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Updated by Charles Bystock on 12/12/2013

mainframe outsourcing (2)You can’t make strategically sound decisions about mainframe outsourcing unless you’re equipped with state-of-the-marketplace intel and insight. This is precisely why it’s valuable to work with an outsourcing consultant who has specific mainframe expertise. But while you’re willing to pay for sage advice, you don’t want to find yourself paying for more than you’re getting.

You can manage consulting costs just as you would for any project, by establishing clear expectations regarding outcomes, timeline and fees or other expenses associated with the work. It’s important to note that not all consultants offer the same services or charge in the same way, so ask how they price their work.

More and more professionals are stepping away from the traditional hourly charging model, instead offering fixed pricing that gives both clients and themselves better predictability. Ideally, consulting fees should directly reflect the results you’re able to achieve.

Whatever you pay for mainframe outsourcing consulting, you’ll want to include that when you evaluate overall costs associated with transitioning to mainframe outsourcing.

Be prepared.

How many internal folks can you free up to help, and to what extent? You can reduce consulting costs by doing some of the work yourself, especially when it comes to assembling data as part of your initial assessment and making sure you’re otherwise prepared to work efficiently and effectively with your consultant. You need to participate in this process anyway, because it’s your solution and your future that are at stake

Where do you really need help? A consultant can:

  • Conduct a thorough, unbiased assessment of your current infrastructure, services and costs.
  • Develop a high level business case and appropriate solutions.
  • Recommend providers and negotiate the deal.
  • Plan a transition that’s as short and seamless as possible.

Doing some of the initial work yourself will help you define your consulting goals, so you can have the most productive and cost-effective experience.

Cut the fat.

Time is money. You want answers from your consulting exercise so you can move forward expeditiously with your transformation process, whatever that entails. So make the most of consultants’ time and expertise. Stay away from firms that tend to over-populate their team, which rapidly drives up billable hours. And skip lengthy presentations in favor of more “doing.”  

Hire the right consultant.

Mainframe outsourcing consultants come in almost as many flavors as outsourcing solutions. Working with the right team ensures your entire decision-making process will produce strategically-targeted, functionally practical and financially advantageous results. Choose the wrong consultant, and you could wind up with off-kilter solutions or pricing that don’t serve you well.

Ask pertinent questions to find your best candidate. Ask about the firm’s resume and about the people behind the resume. Do you respect these people? Trust them? You’re basing your organization’s future on the value your consultants bring to your table, and you’re only as good as the advice you follow, so be picky. Do you like the people you’ll be working with? Compatibility and success go hand in hand.

Have a budget and a timeline in mind and make these priority discussion points with consulting candidates.

Not hiring an outsourcing consultant could be your most expensive decision.

The high cost of not getting pertinent help will surely follow you into the future. You don’t have staff time or other resources to comprehensively research and evaluate mainframe outsourcing options on your own, and there are nuances to formulating the right solution, selecting the right provider and negotiating the strongest contract that you just don’t know. You could wind up paying more and getting less than you really need, especially down the road.

Sometimes taking risks can be a good thing. But not when it comes to choosing and using a mainframe outsourcing consultant. Clarity and communication will ensure you know what you’re getting and that you have consulting costs under control.