One of these things is not like the other — it’s the right choice!

Three bids for that spend analytics project from the three leading Big X firms come in at 1 Million. One bid for that spend analytics project from a specialized niche consultancy you pulled out of the hat for bid diversity comes in at 250 Thousand. Which one is right? Those of you who only partially paid attention to the education Sesame Street was trying to impart upon you when you were growing up will simply remember the “one of these things is not like the other” song and think that any of the bids from the Big X firm is right and the niche consultancy is wrong because it’s different, and therefore must be thrown out because it’s too low when, in fact, it’s the three bids from the Big X firms that are wrong and the bid from the niche consultancy that was right.

Those of us who paid attention knew that Sesame Street was trying to show us how to detect underlying similarities so we could properly cluster objects for further analysis. What we should have learned is that the Big X bids were all the same, built on the same assumption, and can be compared equally. And that the outlier bid needed further investigation — a further investigation that can only be undertaken against an appropriately sized set of sample set of bids from other specialized niche consultancies to compare against. And without that sample set of bids, you can’t properly evaluate the lower bid, which, the doctor can tell you, is likely closer to correct than the wildly overpriced Big X bids.

As per our recent post on don’t hire a F6ckw@d from a Big X if you want to get analytics and AI right, most of these guys don’t have the breadth of expertise they claim to have. In the group that sells you, there will be a leader who is a true expert (and worth his or her weight in platinum), a few handpicked lieutenants who are above average and run the projects, and a rafter of turkeys straight out of private college with more training in how to dress, talk, and follow orders than training in actual analytics … and no guarantee they even have any real university level mathematics (and thus a knowledge of what analytics is and isn’t and can and can’t do).

While there was a time big analytics projects were million dollar projects, that was twenty years ago when Spend Analysis 1.0 was still hitting the market; when there were limited tools for data integration, mapping, cleansing, and enrichment; and when there weren’t a lot of statistics on average savings opportunities across internal and external spend categories. Now we have mature Spend Analysis 3.0 technologies (some taking steps towards spend analysis 4.0 technologies); advanced technologies for automatic data integration, mapping, cleansing, and even enrichment; deep databases on projects and results by vertical and industry size; extensive libraries for out-of-the-box analytics across categories and potential opportunities; and a whole toolkit for spend analysis that didn’t exist two decades ago. This new toolkit, built by best of breed vendors used, and sometimes [co-]owned by these best of breed niche consultancies (that don’t try to do everything, and definitely don’t pretend they can), allows modern spend analysis projects to be done ten times as efficiently and effectively, in the hands of a master — a master that isn’t on your project if you hire a Big X. A niche consultancy will have all these tools, and only have masters on the project who do these projects day in and day out. Compared to the Big X, which will have a team of juniors using the manual playbook from the early 2000s, and one lieutenant to guide them. That’s why their project bids are five times as much — and why you should be inviting multiple niche best-of-breed consultancies to bid on your project and be focussing in on their six figure bids for the one that provides the best value, not the seven figure Big X bids.

(This is also the case for implementations. The Big X always have a rafter on the bench to assign to any project you give them, but there’s no guarantee any of them have ever implemented the system you chose before, or if they did, no guarantee they’ve ever connected it to the systems you need to connect to. You need specialists if you want that big new system implmented as cost effectively as possible. Even if you’re paying those specialists 500 or more an hour because getting a system up in 2 months at 40K is considerably better than a small team of turkeys taking 4 months at 250 an hour and a total cost of 100K.)

Remember, where Big X are concerned, All of us is as dumb as One of us! Don’t fall for the Big X Collectivism MindF6ck! the doctor does NOT want to do say it again, but since a month still is not going by where he’s hearing about niche consultancies being thrown out for “being too cheap” (which means the enterprise throwing them out is too uninformed and not recognizing that the Big X bids are the outliers because they aren’t inviting enough expert consultancies to the table), apparently he has to keep writing (and screaming) this truth. (the doctor isn’t saying that you can’t get a million dollars of value from some of these consultancies, just that you won’t by giving them these types of projects which they are not suited for and don’t have the expertise in. Remember, most of these firms got big in management, or accounting and tax, or marketing and sales consulting, not technology consulting. The only reason these big consultancies are offering these services is because of the amount of money flowing into technology, money which they want, but while the best of the best of the best in more traditional accounting, management, and marketing fields flocked to them, the best of the best in technology flocked to startups and c00l big tech firms. So they just don’t have the talent in tech.)


Did you ever try eating a mitten? the doctor bets they did! (He feels you’re not all there if you think glorified reporting projects still cost One Million Dollars and might actually try to eat your mittens!)