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Computer Consultants: Getting It Right

- Choose a consultant who understands how your business works. Get referrals from trade association members or other colleagues. Post queries on industry-specific Internet newsgroups. Select eight to 10 potential firms.

- Check references relevant to your business. Ask: Did the integrator come when called? Solve the problem? Go over budget? Would you work with the firm again?

- Get resumes of everyone who will work on your site. Beware the ``consultant'' fresh from a two-week software course. Don't be the first big project. Demand full explanation of all technical jargon. Assessment of existing equipment should be free.

- Develop a budget, but don't talk money up front. If asked, tell bidders you have a budget you're not prepared to discuss yet. Make clear you're talking to others, but don't mention names.

- Be willing to pay more for a knowledgeable, unbiased consultant with a reliable service record.

- If buying a lot of equipment and software, negotiate all aspects of the purchase agreement. Reserve final payment until acceptance.

- Fixed-price contracts are better than time-and-materials contracts. Beware of ``features creep''--adding unnecessary bells and whistles.

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Updated June 14, 1997 by bwwebmaster
Copyright 1996, Bloomberg L.P.
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