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Where to find IT consultant reviews

There's lots of IT consultants of every stripe around.  Is there a good place for competitive reviews of them?  We're considering a project, and have a couple quotes in hand for various $,000s.  Part of the evaluation is getting references from them, but of course, none will provide a reference from someone who will tell me how bad they are.

Is there a out there?  Where do you go for reviews of consultants/consulting companies?

Justin Johnson
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

There are simply too many consultants to review in every area, go with word of mouth and make sure the projects are similiar.

the artist formerly known as prince
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

There's probably no money in it. Prone to bias. Honey pot for libel suits.

Li-fan Chen
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

You might get lucky with Google (don't forget the newsgroup search as well).

And this is going to sound wacky, but why not ask them for a bad reference?  (=  Well, don't put it that way exactly, but see if they'll cop to having worked with a client that they don't work with anymore.  Ask them why they think the project or relationship failed, and if you can contact the other party.

Chances are, you won't get any useful data out of it (in which case, see initial comment).  But there *is* a chance that one of your candidates will be honest and say, "Here's a project that didn't work, and this is why."

Sam Livingston-Gray
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

You might also want to consider that they may have learned from their mistakes, so a bad review from a few years ago may not be relevant now.

When I was just starting out, I used to put the best possible face on every situation. Now that I'm more experienced, I get good responses when I "tell it like it is", because the people who I'm talking to have been there too.

Not everything works out well; "there are dreams that cannot be, and there are storms we cannot weather".

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Had to run to class, so didn't get to finish my thoughts above.  The reason I suggested asking (and really, it's just a slight variation on one of the standard interview questions) is that the way people talk about people or jobs they didn't like will tell you a great deal about how they were.  If someone can respectfully and calmly lay out the facts about how some client or boss went off anti-psychotic medication and started taking potshots at their car, chances are good they'll be reasonable enough to work with you when problems arise.

Like Portabella, I've learned that telling it like it is can work -- my last full-time job, I got in part because of the way I told my story about getting fired from a network consulting job, which gave me the impetus to learn programming.  (=  If you find someone who can honestly tell you something like that, hire them.

Sam Livingston-Gray
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Honestly, how many people have trouble weeding out the "bad" hires or consultants.  Ask them for a recent project they've worked on, have them explain at detail.  It should be painfully obvious wether they're competent or not.  You may not get a superstar, but this way you can be sure your not getting a dope. 

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Just ensure you can fire them quickly with little expense.

After you weed out the '15 years Java, 5 years .NET and I overclocked ENIAC' idiots, you've still got another problem.

Domain knowledge.

A superb financial developer may produce a crap vehicle spare parts database, whereas a mediocre developer who is a revhead will do a better job.  (Tip - hire both!)

Some consultants are happy to learn.  If you are running a mail centre, make them spend a few days sorting mail.  The ones who refuse because 'it's beneath them', 'it's trivial' etc are no-hires.  It's like the 'eat your own dog-food' mantra.

Yes, I've sorted mail, and learned a few things from it.

Friday, October 24, 2003

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