How Salesforce Consultants Rack Up Charges - And How You Can Spot it.
When selecting a Salesforce Consultancy it's never a good idea to look at price alone.
Having said that, it's still an key factor in the decision making process and in the current economic climate it's dominating the conversation more and more frequently.
After a process known in the industry as "presales" - which can be anything from a 1 hour call up to an exhaustive RFP process, the consultancy is likely to construct an SOW which breaks down the project's key themes into hours and costs.
For many, the costs that come back can be a surprise. If you've recently experienced a 'wow' moment (and not in a good way), here are some ways you can analyze the information provided to work out if the costs have been overshot.
1. Project structure
A good project team structure should always have business-focussed consultants at every level of the project. If the Solution Architect is the only real client-facing resource, then it's likely that person will be billing more than expected as they have to face the inefficiencies of relaying their every conversation to the consultants/developers.
And no matter how detail-oriented that Solution Architect is, things will get missed. These are often the most stretched people in the industry and that means they'll probably bottleneck some of the information.
2. Offshore rate vs onshore rate
Some consultancies will offer an enticingly low rate for their offshore team but then put a full time Solution Architect on the project at $250/hr. This is a somewhat false economy because:
(a) that means the Solution Architect will be a full-time explainer to the offshore team, and
(b) the offshore team will likely take longer to achieve the requirements and more exhaustive testing will be required. And that brings you to a number of hours which total up to the price of an onshore project.
3. Doubling up on resources
I once sat through 6 weeks of a longer design process with a 'big 4' consultancy in which I didn't take a single workshop. Myself (a Solution Architect), a technical architect, a BA, project manager and engagement manager spent the whole program watching while one person dominated the entire proceedings.
It's important of course that the project resources understand the business, but this extreme version of that was costing the client more than $15k per day for a period of 6 weeks.
4. Competitive Underestimating
The oldest trick in the book - some consultancies are more sales-driven than delivery-driven. And when this happens you're susceptible to being enticed into a tantalisingly low offer from one consultancy, who reassure you that it's easy and they've done it loads of times before.
And then, of course, halfway through the project the commercials have to be renegotiated and expectations quietly reset.
5. The "please leave me alone" pricing
Your project is probably more in depth than can be gleaned from a 1 hour discovery session. But the Solution Architect railroaded into the presales process is completely overloaded and has limited time to really deeply assess your project.
So instead of analyzing it fully, a high-level estimate is given. But that Solution Architect doesn't want to get caught out during delivery, so that estimate is BIG.
6. Project Management
Does a project with two technical resources really require a full time project manager? Or would 10-20% of hours suffice? Are you asking for heavy handed change management, or can you get away with a 'reporting-only' PM?