Three Questions to Ask Your Consultant When Hiring for a WFM Vendor Selection

by | Mar 4, 2014

You’ve decided to buy a new workforce management system, and you’ve decided to hire a consultant to lead your vendor selection process. But, how do you choose a consulting firm to guide you through this process?


You’ll want someone that knows WFM, understands your industry, brings tools and templates to the table to help you get through this process as quickly and cost-effectively as possible, and offers their services at reasonable rates. The problem is that all the WFM consultants that offer these services can do those things. So…how do you decide?

Now before I go any further, I feel like I need a disclosure statement. Axsium Group – the company I work for and the company that publishes my blog – does WFM vendor selections. Furthermore, I have personally been involved in dozens of WFM vendor selections as both an independent consultant and as an employee of a WFM vendor. With that said, I am writing this post, not to pitch Axsium, but to address a common problem that I see organizations struggle with in regards to these projects.

So with that out of the way, here are three questions that you can ask to help you find the right consulting partner for your WFM vendor selection:

1. Are they objective?

You’ll want a consulting partner that is impartial and can provide an independent point of view of the WFM vendors. You don’t want to be driven to a particular WFM software solution because the consultant you chose has the most experience with that package, has a particularly close relationship with the vendor, or worse, is paid a finder’s fee by the vendor for bringing them your business (Yes, that happens!).

The easiest way to find out if a consultant is objective is to ask for a list of the last dozen or so WFM vendor selections that they did. They don’t need to tell you who the clients were – that is likely confidential – but they should tell you the clients’ industries and the vendors that won.

The WFM market is fragmented enough that the list should not be dominated by one or two vendors. The track record of an impartial consultant should have a smattering of wins by multiple vendors. (As an added bonus, this list helps serve another purpose: it helps you judge how much experience the consultant has doing WFM vendor selections. If the list only includes three or four completed selections, can you trust them to finish yours?)

2. How does their process account for my unique needs?

As I said above, any WFM consultant that offers a formal WFM vendor selection service will have a tools and templates that will support your initiative. This may include a standard set of WFM requirements, requirement gathering tools, Request for Information (RFI) or Request for Proposal (RFP) templates, demonstration scripts, conference room pilot/proof of concept test cases, and the like. These tools and templates – and the vendor selection methodology that the consultant brings with them – should serve as the starting point for your project. However, it is just the starting point.

All WFM vendors can track time. All WFM vendors can track attendance. All WFM vendors can create a schedule or roster. So what? What WFM requirements are important to you? How will the consultant tailor its tools and templates to emphasize the requirements that matter to you?

I’ve seen other consultants use the exact same WFM RFP for a hotel, small box retailer and casual dining restaurant. While they were all looking for a WFM system, the reality is that their specific needs were very different, and this RFP effectively wasted everybody’s time, not to mention the clients’ money.

Taking this a step further, how will the consultant tailor its standard vendor selection process for your organization? Does your personal or your organization’s experience with WFM have an effect? How does your purchasing process influence the selection methodology? How does your organization’s culture influence the vendor selection process?

3. How will they help your organization make its decision?

Ultimately, you go through a formal vendor selection to buy a new WFM solution. In other words, you are looking to make a decision. The problem is that lots of people are involved in this decision, and even when you go through an objective process that is tailored for your specific requirements, it is not unusual to be left with a multitude of opinions as to which product best fits your organization.

The good news is that the mere act of bringing in a third-party consultant helps raise the decision above organizational politics. Still, it doesn’t eliminate this challenge. Your consultant needs to have a plan to address this challenge because if you cannot get everybody on the same page – if you cannot make a decision – then why did you hire them to begin with?

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I am interested to hear about your experience selecting a WFM vendor (or any software solution, for that matter). Let me know if you used a consultant to help or not, and whether you did or not, would you go that same route again in the future? If you’re brave, you can leave a public comment below or email me.

Want to learn more, download our Axsium Vendor Selection brochure.

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