The NSW Government is a major buyer of consultancy services, with 90% of this spend currently shared with just 20 suppliers. It is important that agencies get the best value from engagements with consultants.
Buying consultancy services is quite different from buying goods; for inexperienced buyers there are many unknowns.
Click on the links below to go to the appropriate section:
- Consultancy services – a general overview
- Standard commercial framework - the standard commercial framework supports best practice buying of consultancy services, and is mandated by Procurement Board Direction 2018-01 Engagement of professional services suppliers
- Tools and templates – an engagement toolkit for buying consultancy services
Agencies should consider engaging a consultancy supplier if they need:
- specialised skills or experience not available through their staff or a contingent labour hire
- problem solving
- independent advice to enhance public credibility
- diagnostic management, facilitation and change management advice.
Consultants should be engaged to deliver outcomes that your organisation is unable to deliver due to capability, credibility or the need for independent advice.
Define the scope of your engagement
Buying consultancy services is different from buying goods and it is very important to define the need and scope:
- What is the problem you need solved?
- When do you need a solution by?
- How long will the project take?
- Why do you need a specialist or an independent view?
- How much will it cost?
- What kind of engagement will you need – fixed cost, time and material etc.
You can check the Major Suppliers' Portal to see if you can learn from previous engagements procured by NSW Government agencies. If there has been similar work done before, speak to the agency project manager to see what they can recommend.
If you need support, discuss your requirements with NSW Procurement’s Professional Services Category Management. They can provide advice on how you may be able to leverage off existing engagements. Contact them through the NSW Procurement Service Centre.
Is a consultancy supplier the best fit? What other options are there?
If your agency does not have the in-house resources to solve the problem and deliver advice on the solution, carefully consider your project requirements and the type of labour required:
A problem is identified, you select a consulting firm which will get its best team on board to deliver. The supplier is responsible for any risks. Payment is based on delivery of the solution and/or meeting milestones. You would expect higher daily rates as the consulting firm takes on the project risks.
An individual with specialised skills who is seconded from a consulting firm to assist a team within NSW government to deliver a project. The individual will complete timesheets for hours/days worked and the consulting firm will invoice the NSW government agency for these services. You should expect lower daily rates than for a consulting assignment as the NSW government agency directs the secondee, provides work facilities and manages the project risks.
Consider if a major consultancy supplier is required with well known branding or could a smaller, specialist consulting business deliver the project? For a list of prequalified suppliers of consulting services see the Performance and Management Services Scheme.
Contingent labour hire
A named individual who is engaged and directed by NSW Government on a temporary contract. This is for a set timeframe and intellectual property remains with NSW Government. The contractor will complete timesheets for hours/days worked to receive payment from a labour hire company. See the Contingent Workforce Scheme for details.
Which type of consultancy supplier should I use?
The NSW Government supports the engagement of small and medium enterprises (SME’s) which are typically more specialised and can provide value for money. However, in choosing the right services and provider you should consider your project risks, branding requirements and the suppliers organisational capabilities.
How do I buy services from a consultancy supplier?
Your agency may have additional requirements and processes and administrative or financial delegations. Please review your agency procurement guidelines and/or speak to your Procurement department.
- The Board direction PBD 2018-01 Engagement of professional services suppliers outlines the approval and exception reporting requirements when engaging suppliers of consultancy services.
- For a list of prequalified suppliers please see the Performance and Management Services Scheme (SCM0005) - referred to as the 'PMS Scheme', it is managed by NSW Procurement. This scheme is recommended for use by all government agencies.The scheme offers a pool of suppliers who can deliver general, strategic and functional government/business-related advice and services. These suppliers have completed a due diligence process and a capability assessment. They have agreed to standard terms and conditions.
What type of capabilities/services can I buy from a consultancy supplier?
The PMS scheme capabilities includes strategic, general and functional business advisory, high end strategy and infrastructure and specialised services.
Prequalified PMS scheme suppliers have had their skills and experience assessed against the scheme requirements and are mapped to appropriate capabilities and specialisations. Please review the full list of engagement and sub-engagement types (DOCX, 28.27KB) for the PMS Scheme.
Most capabilities/engagement types in the PMS Scheme are covered by a standard commercial framework. The framework supports negotiations with consultancy suppliers and ensures value for money. Full details on the standard commercial framework for the PMS Scheme are detailed below.
The PMS scheme is undergoing a refresh in the first half of 2018, and the supplier listings may change – please check the current supplier listing on the PMS Scheme (XLSX,1.99 MB) or contact the NSW Procurement Service Centre.
For general information on how to best engage and manage consultants, please refer to Consulting 101 (PDF,1.39MB)
Within the PMS Scheme, a standard commercial framework was implemented for engagement types 1 - 13. The NSW Government introduced a centralised approach to ensure a better commercial outcome, with a category management team to support implementation across all the clusters.
Access the standard commercial framework
The standard commercial framework is available to NSW government staff with a valid email address via the Major Suppliers' Portal. New users can use the new user self registration guide (DOCX, 272KB) to self register and gain instant access to the Major Suppliers' Portal. For support with the self registration process, please contact the NSW Procurement Service Centre.
The overview (PDF, 306KB) of the standard commercial framework is publicly available.
The framework was rolled out in three phases. Initially to the suppliers with the highest spend and then to the remaining PMS Scheme suppliers.
To check a PMS Scheme supplier's current status, please review the supplier listing.
The framework consists of:
- standardised engagement types and resource types to allow like-for-like comparisons of proposals
- daily capped rates – a maximum daily rate a supplier can charge for various categories or capabilities
- discounts for engagements based on the team size engaged and the duration of each project
- capped expenses – with a maximum cap on expenses such as travel or office sundries
While the PMS Scheme is recommended for use by agencies, use of the standard commercial framework is mandated by PBD-2018-01 Engagement of professional services suppliers. Both agency buyers and suppliers have obligations when seeking or providing services to the NSW Government when using the PMS Scheme.
What isn’t included under the standard commercial framework?
- infrastructure and construction
- contingent labour
- training – learning and development
Exceptions and requirements
Use of non-compliant suppliers, high end strategy engagements and pricing above the capped rates in the standard commercial framework are considered 'not compliant' to the framework and any such engagement must:
- have your agency head /Secretary or Cluster Chief Financial Officer sign off before going to market
- seek a minimum of 3 competitive quotes for the required works
- report non-compliance details in the Major Suppliers' Portal.
On occasion, you may require a consultancy service capability from the standard commercial framework, by a provider that is not prequalified but whose expertise is warranted for an engagement. The exception process would be required to be followed for such works if the suppliers’ rates are above the capped rates in the standard commercial framework.
Procurement Board Direction 2018-01 outlines the approval and exception reporting processes for engagements that are not compliant to the standard commercial framework.
Please note, your agency may have additional requirements when engaging with consultancy suppliers - either administration or financial delegations. Review your agency procurement guidelines and/or speak to your Procurement department.On occasion, there may be consultancy services not covered by schemes, but whose experience is required. In such cases, an agency may engage this services provider. They must comply with:
- the agency's procurement guidelines
- the Procurement Policy Framework
- procurement policies covering approved procurement arrangements
- specific guidelines on the use of probity advisories and auditors (Board Direction 2013-05)
Agencies must use their approved standard form of agreement for engaging a service provider. If one is not available, agencies can use the non prequal short form consultancy agreement template. (DOCX, 62KB)
Overview of the Standard Commercial Framework (PDF,306KB) - publicy available information on the standard commercial framework.
Standard commercial framework for the PMS Scheme - link to the framework document, which includes capped rates, discount structure, expenses policy - only available to Government buyers.
Engagement toolkit for buying consultancy services (PPTX,2.26MB) this is a one page overview of the procurement process and links to relevant tools.
Project brief template (DOCX,143KB)
Part A – specification (DOCX,972KB)
Part B – response (XLSX,304KB)
Supplier Commercial Evaluation (XLSX,73KB)
Negotiation Pack (PPTX,599KB)
Statement of works template (DOCX, 128KB)
Standard form of agreement - advanced/full suppliers - PMS Scheme (DOCX 35.41 KB)
Standard form of agreement - base suppliers - PMS Scheme (DOCX 86 KB)
Consulting 101 (PDF,1.39) a holistic reference to engaging consulting services in general
Exceptions / reporting in Major Suppliers Portal
Quick 'How To' Guide to use the Major Suppliers' Portal (PDF, 1.41MB)