An association recently contacted me to help them review some proposals they’ve received from some AMS vendors. The association is looking to replace their existing homegrown system with an off-the-shelf system (a wise choice). They’ve spent countless hours going through demos, reviewing proposals, making matrices of vendor comparisons, and narrowing down their decision.

As I reviewed the paperwork, somewhere within all the information I discovered that their budget for the AMS is $30,000. Considering all the staff time they’ve already spent on this project, I’d guess that they’ve spent at least half that much in indirect costs for all the research they’ve done. In other words, they’ve likely spent $15,000 in salary and benefits to make a $30,000 decision.

Does that sound like a good use of their time?

I’m glad they contacted me and I’m certain I’ll be able to help them make a wise decision, for a relatively low cost. But I always wince when I hear from associations who have spent untold hours doing research on a very large and very diverse and dispersed market (association management software). I’m glad they finally find me, but I wish there was some way they could find me prior to spending all that time doing research that they could access quickly and easily through me.

The next time you have a project that will require lots of expertise in an area where no staff has that expertise, consider outside help. When you calculate the time required by staff to get up-to-speed, it’s likely a consultant can help you for a much lower total cost.