Hoping to avoid the mistakes it made with the Susan B. Anthony coin, the U.S. Mint decided to hire consultants for advice on how to launch the new golden dollar. To find and screen consulting firms, the Mint turned to ProSavvy. ProSavvy is an “e-procurement solution”—a Web-based service designed to help companies of all sizes “more efficiently and effectively select professional and consulting service providers.”

Formerly known as Expert Marketplace, ProSavvy boasts facilitating work on more than 6,000 projects, worth more than $240 million. The site’s 160,000 registered business users (which, besides the U.S. Mint, include such companies as Texaco, Hasbro, and Fruit of the Loom) can search a database listing more than 1,700 firms that have agreed to ProSavvy’s qualification requirements and paid a fee to become a ProSavvy Affiliate. Many different types of consultants are available through the site, including those who focus on IT, marketing, management, human resources, finance, engineering, or telecommunications.

If your firm is looking to put itself in front of new customers, ProSavvy may be the ticket. In this article, we’ll tell you how to register with the site and what benefits ProSavvy membership can bring to your firm.

Signing up
If you’re just interested in doing some poking around on the site, go to ProSavvy’s home page and click the button labeled Create A Free Membership To Find Projects. After you enter some personal information, you can use your free membership to search for projects. But many of the listings in the database, including those fewer than three days old, are available only to those firms that have paid a fee to become a ProSavvy Affiliate.

To register as an affiliate, click the Become An Affiliate tab and fill out a brief application form. After you submit the form, you should, according to the site, expect a ProSavvy business development specialist to contact you regarding the status of your application. (Actually, you should expect a representative to call even if you just register for the free membership.)

ProSavvy boasts to its business users that it puts its consultants through rigorous evaluations and prequalification requirements. So to become a ProSavvy Affiliate, you’ll have to go through the company’s Quality System by submitting to ongoing quantitative and qualitative surveys of previous clients. The results will be presented online to hiring managers in the form of performance appraisals that show how clients rated you in the past. The site even gives hiring managers the option of interviewing your former clients.

You also will have to agree to adhere to ProSavvy’s Professional Code of Ethics and “demonstrate a superior level of expertise, personalized service, and cost-effectiveness.” Last, but certainly not least, you’ll have to pay a fee, which varies depending on the size of your firm but could run as high as $8,000.

Benefits of affiliation
According to ProSavvy, the benefits of affiliation include:

  • New business development.
  • A benchmark report that shows how your firm compares to other affiliates.
  • Brand recognition from being able to advertise your firm as a qualified ProSavvy Affiliate.
  • Exposure through ProSavvy’s partnerships with more than 265 other business sites, including Office.com, BuyerZone.com, and VerticalNet.
  • Access to networking events that promote the exchange of ideas and partnerships between affiliates.
  • Discounts on services for consulting firms (e.g., insurance, legal, and accounting services).
  • Professional development opportunities, including online seminars customized for consultants.

ProSavvy also promises that its account managers will evaluate all projects clients post on the site to ensure they are “legitimate projects from clients actively pursuing professional and consulting services.”

The ProSavvy process
After ProSavvy’s account managers approve a project, clients can then use the site’s online specification tool to help them refine the requirements of a project before beginning the search for a consultant.

After a client posts a project that calls for your expertise, you’ll be alerted via e-mail, although you probably won’t know who is posting the project because the client remains anonymous until it chooses to reveal its identity.

ProSavvy will present all the consulting firms that respond to a client’s posting to the hiring manager through standardized online reports that help the client quickly evaluate each firm’s capabilities compared to the specific project criteria. Clients also can access detailed online profiles listing each firm’s complete set of skills and experience.

Overall, ProSavvy seems best suited for large firms. If you’re an individual consultant or contractor, you may be more interested in the services of SkillsVillage.com (with which ProSavvy has formed an alliance) or eWork Exchange. (You can also read my review of this site.)

For additional information about ProSavvy’s services, visit the site and take the online tour, call (800) 983-9737 or (720)- 873-5400, or e-mail ProSavvy’s Webmaster.

Thomas Pack is a freelance technology reporter.

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