Consulting and Professional Services (02.02.22

Last week we covered the software procurement process, and we’ll continue this week with the theme of complicated procurements by discussing consulting and professional services.  

Different types of services are defined within policy BS17 with consultants being defined as: 

“An Independent Contractor who is exceptionally qualified, by education or experience in a particular field, to render an opinion or give advice that is unavailable from an Employee of the University.” 

In situations where you feel your engagement meets the definition of consulting you should submit a Consulting Justification Form with your Shop OnLion shopping cart. 

Professional services are defined as: 

“Services requiring specialized skills (e.g., physician, dentist, sports officials, etc.) performed other than as a Consultant or Subcontractor” 

And purchased services are defined as: 

“Routine activities performed other than as a Consultant or Subcontractor, normally paid to OTHER than individuals.” 

Now that we have an idea of the differences between consulting, professional services, and purchased services, let’s review some common aspects of these types of engagements and how to make sure they are successful from a procurement standpoint. 

Payment: The first determination that you should make is how the engagement will be paid.  You should consult the Payment Decision Matrix and Services Matrix for guidance on the allowable methods of payment for the type of engagement.  Questions on the best method of payment for an engagement should be directed to either your Finance Office or Procurement for guidance. 

Scope of Work: Making sure that the consultant or professional services provider has supplied you with a detailed scope of work (SOW) is important for both the department and Procurement to verify what work is being purchased.  Scope of work documentation should include clear deliverables and timelines for work to be completed.  It is also important that the SOWs include details about pricing including milestone payments, hourly rates, and ancillary expenses that are part of the engagement.  These pricing details should be included in the Shop OnLion shopping cart.  More information about completing a successful shopping cart can be found in the Shopping Cart construction article. 

Supplier Registration: Making sure your consultant or professional services firm is registered as a supplier prior to working with them will help make issuing purchase orders or payments to them go smoothly.  All outside entities (whether a single person acting as a consultant or a large professional services firm) must be registered as a supplier to receive payment from the University.  Suppliers interested in the registration process can visit Procurement’s supplier information page. 

Following these few tips can help make your consulting or professional services engagement successful.  If you have questions about the process or documentation, please contact the Procurement staff responsible for this area.