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May 27, 2008: Questions for IA/IM vendors

Occasionally I help my clients find consulting firms for information architecture and information management projects. Here's how I help:

  • Establish an overall hiring process
  • Develop RFPs
  • Assemble an initial list of potential vendors
  • Review proposals
  • Develop short list selection criteria
  • Come up with (and ask) questions for the interviews of short list candidates
  • Develop systems for evaluating proposals and presentations

Because I'm such a swell guy, I've decided to share a general set of interview questions below. Hopefully some Bloug readers might find these helpful to consider when hiring a vendor. Chime in with others you think should be added...

Your company

  • Please give us the "elevator pitch" for your company.
  • What makes your company different?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • How has your company evolved (e.g., staff, service offerings)?
  • Has your company used a different name in the past?
  • Where is your headquarters?
  • Where will the team assigned to us will be based?
Your people
  • How many consultants are employed by your company?
  • What is your likely team configuration for our project?
    • Team size
    • Mix of permanent versus contractors
    • Mix of full-time versus part-time
    • Job types/skill sets
  • Do you know who specifically will be assigned to our team? Can you share their biographies? If not, why not?
  • How long have they worked together?
  • Will you need to bring on additional staff for our project? Do you already have those staff identified? Have you worked with them before?
Your past work
  • Describe a project that the team has worked on that's similar to ours (in terms of industry, technologies, etc.).
  • What were the key take-aways from that project?
  • What would you have done differently?
Our project
  • What appeals to you about working with us?
  • What appeals to you about this project in particular?
  • Which aspects of this project will be the most challenging for you?
  • Which aspects of this project will be the most challenging for us?
  • What should we be doing now to prepare for this project?
How will you tackle our project?
  • Would you walk us through the methodology you're likely to use?
  • Which aspects of your methodology are particularly unique to your company?
  • If we had a much larger budget, what would you do differently in terms of methodology?
What will the outcome be?
  • What would the product/deliverables ultimately be?
  • Would it be possible to show us a sample?
  • At the end of the project, where will we be?
    • What would the likely next steps be?
    • Would you be the logical vendor to continue with? If not, what type of company would you recommend?
    • Do you have established relationships/partnerships with other companies? Which ones?
How should your work be evaluated?
  • What metrics should be used to evaluate this project's success?
  • Have we missed any important ones in our RFP?
Working together
  • Will your team have a single point of contact?
  • Who will be your team's project manager? How much of their job will be dedicated to managing our project?
  • Should one of our own people also allocate time to project management?
  • What is the best way to communicate with you (e.g., email, phone)?
  • What one thing makes for a successful client/consultant relationship?

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Comment: ML Chan (Jun 6, 2008)

Very much appreciated...have in the past helped small time folks hire consultants.

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