Habush Habush and Rottier

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Consulting Firms that are more worth it than others

These guys seem legit (and appear in no particular order):
 
314e
Vonlay
Sagacious
Parker
Technisource (now Randstad--they're not Epic aficionados, but they can find you a job for the non-compete year)
Nordic (Based on a reader's recommendation)
Henry Elliot  (They staff specifically for Cach√©/MUMPS-related jobs. This could be useful for the non-compete year. I can't remember if they do Epic.)

If you get an email like this, my recommendation is to ignore:

From: [xxxx]
To:
Subject: Epic Clarity (Healthcare) Certified required for my client in [XX]. Please send me the resume.
Date: Wed, 22 Aug 2012 08:07:18 -0700


Epic Clarity (Healthcare) Certified required for my client in [XX]. Please send me the resume.

Location: [XXXXX, XX]
Duration: 1-2 months
Start Date: ASAP
Rate: Expense will be paid
ROLE: Report Writer
Must be Certified.
REQUIRED SKILLS
  • We would need a report writer certified in Clarity reporting (for sure) and HB (ideal) and with experience in both applications (specifically reporting workbench in the HB application).
  • This position would be 30-60 days in duration.
  • The focus would be developing an extract in Clarity for a decision support/cost accounting vendor (Med Assets Avega).

Regards,

[XXXXXXX XXXX]

O: [111-111-1111]
F: [222-222-2222]
E: [email@fakeemail.com]
company name

There's nothing personalized about this email. It's nice that it includes the contact information, but I'm not even certified in Clarity or HB. My certs are readily available on my resume on all the job sites--this smacks of a bot trolling for the word "epic" and then a recruiter is just attempting to find a warm body. A company that sends emails like this doesn't seem like it would care about the best fit for me, just the best fit for their bottom line.


Contrast with this exchange, with a managing partner from Vonlay:



Hi [anonymous]

I am touching base to see what interest you may have in Epic consulting positions. My partner and I have a consulting company, Vonlay LLC (www.vonlay.com), and we focus heavily on EMR with our core being Epic. My partner Aaron Carlock worked for Epic for about 4 years and most of our consultants have as well.

I would be interested to find out what your long term interests are regarding type of projects, project locations etc. I see that your non-compete with Epic will go through this year. We are looking for a resource experienced with Epic Ambulatory for two Epic projects in Wisconsin and we have many other needs as well.

We are based in Madison right next door to Epic, and have great relationships with Epic, many Epic clients, and consultants across the country. We are a small consulting company focused on our people, and many former Epic employees have joined our team and are finding our culture and benefits to be a great fit for them.

I would appreciate any opportunity to find out more about you, your background and your interests. We don’t have any recruiters, and you would be working directly with myself and Aaron as owners of Vonlay.

Let me know if there is a time that we can speak. Thank you for your time.

Mike Kolpein
[mike's email address]

From: 
Sent: 
To: Mike Kolpien
Subject: Accepted: RE: Epic Consulting

---

LinkedIn

INMAIL: ACCEPTED
[anonymous]  has accepted your request.
Email: [anonymous at undisclosedlocation dot com]
Title: Epic Consulting
Hi Mike,
I'd be interested in any Epic positions you have. My strength is in [specific apps] but I'm certified in other apps as well. My non compete expires at the end of this year, so unless you have clients that disregard the non-compete, I can't really do anything until then.

I'm open to relocation, short term/contract projects, pretty much anything.

Thanks,
[anonymous]

 ---
From: Mike
Date:
Subject: FW: Accepted: RE: Epic Consulting
To: [anonymous]
Hi [anonymous],

We are a partner with Epic, so we certainly honor the non-compete and are aware of it.  What I would like to do is schedule a call or get together sometime over coffee to review your background and what the best projects would be for you.  We would certainly be able to line up multiple projects at the end of the year or beginning of next year for Epic work.  But I am also aware of many consulting opportunities in the Madison area that are outside of Epic that could possibly be of interest in the mean time.  Let me know if we can schedule something.

Thank you.

Mike

Mike Kolpien
Vonlay LLC – Managing Partner
mike's email address
mike's phone

----
The difference is obvious. There's personal attention, from an actual person who has an actual photograph (check their website), and it's obvious that he read my resume before contacting me. The impression is that I would not just be a product being sold, but an actual person. All the companies I've listed above do this. I picked Vonlay as the example because I still had the email exchange.

68 comments:

  1. I was curious as to what if any experience you have had with Nordic Consulting. I know they are local to Madison as well and they seem to specialize solely in Epic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The name sounded familiar, so I checked my email history. It looks like they put some ads on Craigslist for Epic experience, but in my case nothing panned out with them. They asked the usual questions about non-competes, and there was an implied promise to reconnect closer to the expiration date, but I don't remember any actual communications after that.

      Since they're local, though, give them a try and then write back about your experience.

      Delete
    2. They've called me over the summer, and my year just came up. I've heard through the grapevine that they pay above market, but that's all I know.

      Delete
    3. I actually signed with Nordic - they pay WAY higher than the other firms - Sagacious offered me a salary of about $120 a year and Nordic got me $103 per hour (you do the math)and don't have recruiters that blow up your emails. I've been with them about 6 months, never been "out of work" and they just got ranked 1st in Klas - bottom line I actually enjoy Epic work again. Add Nordic to your list.

      Delete
    4. I ended up signing with Sagacious since they moved faster to place me, but both they and Nordic (from what I hear) are top-notch. Sagacious threw in some extra concessions on benefits to sweeten the pot, which in my situation is more useful than raw dollars. I'm on a large Epic customer with a reasonable work schedule and get to work remotely fairly often, so I'm happy.

      Delete
    5. Currently in the deliberations on which firm to work with and here is what I'm finding out:
      - Sagacious is mostly for "Epic Refugees" who didn't last long (for one reason or another) at the mothership. If you were only there for less than 3 years, and only expect to make around $120k SALARY, then this might be the place for you. They are not extremely selective, and didn't strike me as having a good vision for what their business model will be once the major US implementations dry up.

      - Vonlay is a better option (but maybe not the best) for people who did well at Epic, and have a wealth of knowledge about their applications and how to be a good implementer. Vonlay is created by former Epic, and run by former Epic. This is both good and bad. It's good because they understand what many former Epic people want. It's bad, because there is noticeable lack of business experience and direction from their leadership. I feel like there might be a little too much of an Epic circle-jerk going on, and I don't think that is a successful business model in the long term. They pride themselves on being "smaller than Nordic" but in an industry where the number of connections you can make is going to be essential in the coming years as the industry re-defines itself, I don't see how being small is going to be extremely beneficial if Nordic is making all of the major connections.

      - Nordic seems to be the best group I've talked with so far. They are consultant focused, and offered several benefits that I thought made them stand out such as a monthly technology allowance, 3-month overlap period on benefits between contracts allowing you to travel, and a guaranteed quick turnaround on reimbursement payments due to more free capital. They're focusing not only on placing current staff, but also on what the industry is going to look like in 5-10 years which I think is very important. They already have business models set up for how they will address upgrades, enhancement packages that Epic doesn't have the free resources to provide, and they are the only licensed Community Connect consulting firm which will be HUGE. They set higher pay expectations with me as well that were better than the other firms, anywhere from $100-115/hr. In fact they even offered to give me bench pay, if they couldn't place me right away (but said they don't do that for everyone).

      If you're looking for a Madison based, Epic-only firm, I'd say it goes:
      1. Nordic
      2. Vonlay
      3. Sagacious

      Delete
    6. Sorry, but I have to disagree. My best friends was at Epic over five years, and she's made a happy home at Sagacious. I know she's taking on some internal leadership roles and easily bringing in over 150k. She mentioned profit share and some crazy perks. Also, have you looked at KLAS? I wouldn't be surprised if Sagacious takes it this year...

      Hurry up non-compete!!

      Delete
    7. I would not touch Nordic with a 10 foot pole. I interviewed with them once and lets just say loose lips sink ships. They are VERY unprofessional when it comes to talking to others about who they are interviewing.

      Delete
    8. Today's Nordic is not the same Nordic from two years ago. Being invested in has changed the company culture. It no longer feels like it's about the consultant anymore but about the bottom line. I would tread carefully with them also.

      Delete
  2. Our firm has been in business for close to 30 years. We started in IT and in the mid-2000s we created a healthcare department to handle the high demand we were receiving for EMR consultants. We are one of those firms that has direct relationships with our clients and we take pride in the development of those relationships. As a recruiter, I take the same pride in developing the relationships with my consultants. I make every effort to earn your trust and the right to work with my you.

    I don't just want to put consultants on projects, I want to put you on the right project. I want you to enjoy the projects you take on with me. I have lots of opportunities for Epic consultants and if I don't have a project for you that's a fit, I make it my mission to find you one that is!

    We have both contract and full-time consultants working for our firm. We have tons of great clients across the county. We offer competitive rates and for our full-time consultants I would argue we have the best benefits in the industry. I am always looking for strong new additions to my Epic team and I will take the time to get to know you, your experience, and your preferences. If I sound like someone you would like to work with, please call me or send me an email and we can set something up!

    Also, we are an Epic-sponsored partner, so we can sponsor you to get you additional certifications. And we definitely honor the 1-year non-compete.


    Cheers,
    Jordan Sims
    National Recruiter
    Oxford Healthcare IT
    817-900-5376
    jordan_sims@oxfordcorp.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've been out just a year now, and had calls from two consulting firms over the summer. I've accepted an offer from one of them (VCS, which is now merged with MaxIT) as of this week. I would assume that once my paperwork is finalized, they should be able to place me with a client fairly quickly (like days)? FYI, I'm still employed by my current consulting firm doing non-Epic work, but I'm anxious to get out as soon as possible.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It varies by consulting agency, and by current market for Epic-certified folks. I'm with my current company because they placed me at a client site the fastest--I didn't do any time on a bench. Each agency probably does things their own way. If I were you, I'd ask your pimp the same question. Then come back here and leave a comment with the answer. :)

      Delete
    2. VCS didn't make much contact after the first 2-3 weeks, and just one email since then, saying "customer response has been slow". In that time, I contacted another firm, spoke to a recruiter and the CEO, got an offer, got placed with a client, and have a start date, with a better offer.

      Delete
  4. It's been four weeks, and I haven't heard anything other than "waiting to hear from client". In the meantime, I got a better offer from Sagacious, and they seem much more on the ball.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm interested in applying for a position at Epic because I'm finding it a little difficult to get into Epic Consulting without any Epic experience and I was also thinking that would be the best way to get certified on the modules. Since I already know that I would like to become a consultant, how long do I have to be at Epic before I can exit, considering the year (or is it more) non compete?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Epic gets about a billion applications a year, but only hires a thousand or so new employees.

      If you get hired, you can leave whenever you want. There's no contract forcing you to work there at least a year, for example. If you get certified in two months, then you can quit. You'll still have to wait out the one year non-compete, though.

      Delete
    2. If you are fortunate to get hired, I would recommend staying on at least a year to 18 months for several reasons.
      -It doesn't look great on your resume to be in and out so fast, either with Epic or anywhere, unless there's a good reason.
      -If you're going to IS/TS, this will give you customer experience, and time to build contacts that will help you get consulting experience later on.
      -Odds are you will be there through at least one upgrade, which is useful to see whatever your role.
      -Frankly, you'll never have better insurance than you will at Epic. Even with Sagacious, where I have great insurance, I still have (small) co-pays. Epic covers everything at 100% from day one of hire.

      Delete
    3. If you want the big money, stay for at least 3.5 years and get a good rep for yourself with both clients and fellow employees. If you're looking for quick cash, maybe work with Epic for a year and then go work at Sagacious.

      Delete
    4. I strongly disagree . I went to work for Sagacious and it is a lifestyle . I never imagined a company making there employee's best interest their first priority. My salary is amazing /well over six figures. Sagacious is my home

      Delete
  6. Does anyone have any information on the rumors of "blacklisting" for a salaried employee of a hospital IT implementation within in 30 or 90 days of a go-live? I've heard different rumors about it but don't know what's what.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I used to be an IC at Epic, and here's what I saw:
      - I would get an email from one of Epic's consultant relations folks
      - The letter would call out whoever was being requested by another client from my current client (hence why I was getting the notice as the IC)
      - The email was asking for a judgement call on my part regarding whether that analyst would be interferring with the project by leaving, and how close we were to current go-lives.
      - If I thought he person sucked, I had no problem letting them leave. If they were good and important to the project (based on asking the AM/AC), I would say as much and they wouldn't be able to leave.

      It's weird I know, but that's how it worked when I was doing it about a year ago.

      Delete
    2. Does that apply to 90 days post-live or just pre-live? Can you get blacklisted for leaving Epic 30 days after one of your customers goes live?

      Delete
    3. Hello, I have a question for the Administrator or anyone who may know... is there a list of consultant companies who don't work directly with Epic if you have been "blacklisted?" I left my position as an AC with a hospital 60 days post-live and ended up on the "list". I've thought about contacting Epic directly to ask about removing my name from their list, but I wouldn't even know who to ask for. In addition to Epic, I have 10 years experience with a much smaller EMR company, and am looking to stay in healthcare IT. Many thanks for any advice...

      Delete
    4. @Anon 9/15 1031:
      I'm not sure. I always assumed that if the consulting firm wasn't listed on the list that new Epic employees have to sign, you'd have a somewhat easier time with it. I don't have that list anymore (maybe a recent Epic alumn has it and doesn't mind sharing), but it was a pretty short list, iirc.

      For Epic employees, the process is outlined in this post, under the "Bargaining" section. I imagine a similar process would need to be followed for non-Epic employee blacklistees, and it would probably have a similar stonewall in place.

      With your experience, you should apply everywhere--if stuff isn't panning out, you've got a good case for a wrongful interference with employment relationship lawsuit. I've also heard it called tortious interference. I'm not a lawyer; I'm not sure if these are in fact the same thing; consult an actual lawyer for correct and accurate information.

      I've always thought that Epic had illegal contracts, but short of them being sued, nothing would ever change.

      Delete
  7. Within one day after posting my resume on LinkedIn, Monster, CareerBuilder, and Dice, I was contacted by the seven consulting firms below (in no particular order):

    1) ettain
    2) Virtelligence
    3) Engage
    4) Global
    5) Culbert
    6) HealthVMS
    7) 314e

    314e is listed on this blog as one of the better Epic consulting firms. Has anyone had experience with the other six firms I listed?

    About the "legit" consulting firms listed on this blog, should I initiate and contact them?

    Thank you for creating this blog!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We had some Culbert consultants where I work. There were some problems with some of the people they sent to us, though--for example, Culbert said the consultants had certain skills, but when it came down to it the consultants couldn't deliver. That could be isolated, but it wasn't a good first impression. My employer quit using Culbert after that, so I haven't had a second impression.

      Virtelligence sounds familiar: I think they may have approached me as well. IIRC, they were nice enough, but other firms staffed me faster so I went elsewhere. I have nothing to say against them, but I don't have enough for a recommendation either.

      Global: They seem to have a huge LinkedIn presence, and send lots of emails offering personalized staffing assistance, one-on-one conversations with the head honcho to get the right position, all kinds of good stuff. When I tried to avail myself of this resource, the face of Global seemed pretty flaky and I received empty promises and no follow ups. Your mileage may vary, but dealing with Global was a waste of my time.

      Delete
  8. Another firm I forgot to mention earlier is Henry Elliot. They don't do Epic per se; their focus is on Cache/MUMPS. I haven't worked with them on any projects or placements, but their recruiters are friendly and don't spam. They'd be an excellent choice for the non-compete year.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I worked at Epic for around 4 years on a clinical application. I was an AM on 6 installs, an IC on one, and was also a TL. I never actually hated my job at Epic, like some others might have, but I basically didn't think it was a sustainable way for me to live the next few years. I won't give too much more info, because I want to remain anonymous.

    I have done extensive research both online, and in talking with friends and former coworkers. I weeded through the spam, I navigated LinkedIn, I talked with random recruiters on the phone and ultimately created a short list of firms that seemed respectable. I am now allowing a few firms to "court" me, and here are some observations I have gleaned from these experiences:

    - There are basically two major groups of Epic consultants - those that worked at Epic, and those that didn't. If you're in the first group, you're in the driver's seat and can/should be very picky. There's no reason to settle for anything less than $120k a year and full benefits.

    - There are then two subgroups of former Epic people - those that stayed for over 3 years with a good reputation, and those that didn't. There are different shades of grey in the latter group, of course, but if you're in the former then you should expect around $200k a year with an hourly pay structure. Beyond that, you can sometimes work out additional benefits with the firm if they really want you to sign such as guaranteed bench pay for an hourly consultant and additional internal roles/investment opportunities in the firm. These additional benefits likely vary depending on the person.

    - Look for the Epic-specific firms. They will pay better, and usually know how to better cater to a former Epic employee because they better understand and relate to your expectations. At some of the larger, non-specifc firms, the hourly pay might be comparable, but you're not getting the benefits package or the high standard of coworkers and support you've come to expect while working at Epic.

    - Ask about remote work opportunities, and how much of you're time you'll be able to spend working from home. You likely won't get a guaranteed answer, but they should be able to tell you what their current consultants do and it should be around 25-50% remote work.

    - Ask about their vision for the future. While the Epic consulting industry will likely be around for a long time, the current boom of implementations and the meaningful use bubble will not. Where do they see the industry going, and what business models are they putting in place to ensure they remain on the bleeding edge? If they don’t have much of an answer, that should tell you something.

    - Talk to your friends who left Epic before you did and are now consulting at the firms you’re interested in. How good at their job were they in relation to you? If you liked and respected them, find out why they chose the firm they did.

    - Pick 2-3 firms you like/trust, let them take you out to lunch and then work with them to get your resume in top shape and out to potential customers. Let them approach you with different client opportunities until you get one that you want. Play coy, and don't tell them what the other firms are telling you (also be ethical and don't give away leads from one firm to another). Remember, you're in control here and aren't committed to anything until you've signed something. Make sure they understand your intentions, and don't allow them to overcommit you before you're ready (I've heard some tales of this happening).

    - It's best to start the whole process about 3-4 months before you're non-compete is actually up. This gives you plenty of time to sort things out, get to know the firms better, and ultimately make the best choice (plus more free lunches as they try to woo you!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is the best entry on this blog page. I've been in Healthcare IT for about 8 years (including 2 at Epic) and can assert that this is all true.

      Delete
  10. If you handle things like this, you're extremely likely to find a firm that is the right fit for you. My personal opinion is that the Madison-based, Epic-only firms ARE in fact the best, but they are not all created equal. Quick (opinionated) synopsis of the big three in Madison which are Sagacious, Vonlay, and Nordic.

    Sagacious
    Pros:
    - Large sized client base, so they can usually place you quickly and give you choices of where you want to work.
    - Nice benefits package
    Cons:
    - Reputation for not being “selective enough” in regards to who they will take from Epic. If you’ve worked there, they will take you. Customers will eventually catch on.
    - Pay is done on a salary basis, meaning the consulting firm and the client will “own” you. You don’t get paid for every hour you work and you ultimately won’t make as much money.

    Vonlay
    Pros:
    - Smallest of the three firms in Madison giving it a “tight-knit” feel and strong company culture.
    - Selective in choosing their consultants and seem to be trying to find a niche as a “boutique” agency in the industry which could land you a higher rate with the client…potentially.
    - Has in-house R&D folks from Epic, which allow them to get a little more creative with their solutions.
    - Have a plan for the future, yet it struck me as unrefined.
    - Best 401k plan
    Cons:
    - Smaller customer base which might mean you’ll sit on the bench at some point. Also means the firm isn’t even ranked in highly publicized customer focused reports like KLAS.
    - EVERYONE there is from Epic, not just the consultants. This means it’s a bit of an echo-chamber without a lot of business diversity. As a former Epic person, I realize we all THINK we all know what we’re doing…but do we when it comes to business intelligence?

    Nordic:
    Pros:
    - Large customer base with tons of connections helps influence future clients throughout the industry. They were ranked #1 in KLAS among all Epic Consultant staffing firms in the US.
    - They quoted me the highest estimated rate from all three firms.
    - Diversity of experience. There is a mixture of former Epic, Microsoft, IBM and Cerner on the executive and management teams, while still keeping all of their consultants and client managers as former Epic.
    - Recent outside investments into the company allow them flexibility and options due to availability of capital. Competitive salaries for internal roles allow the potential for upward mobility, they can pay hourly consultants on their bench to ensure they lock in the best people, and can quick-pay reimbursements.
    - Extra benefits such as $100/month tech allowance, up to 3 months paid benefits between contracts if you want to travel, paid certification training, bench pay, internal investment opportunities.
    - Comprehensive plan for the future including enhancement packages, remote upgrades, and hourly “side-work.” There are even rumors regarding them getting their own “playground” environment.
    Cons:
    - Growing very fast and attracting outside investments. While this is certainly a positive right now, it could cause drastic changes in the company culture over the next few years (i.e. going public, being acquired, etc.)
    - Recently have become somewhat less selective in consultants and clients due to fast growth, which could manifest in a drop in quality down the road.

    As you can probably tell from my admittedly biased reviews (hey, I said they were opinions!) I am leaning heavily towards Nordic. They seemed to have the highest quality reputation in the industry, more visionary leadership than the others, and they also seem to pay and treat their best consultants better than the rest.

    I hope this was potentially informative to someone else out there going through the same thing.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I would like to point out some observations having experiences with all three of the Epic only firms mentioned in the previous posts. I agree with most of the comments except for a few additional points.

    Sagacious – They aren’t truly based in Madison and their office is in Kansas. If you live locally in Madison they won’t have an office for you to go to. I would definitely agree on the cons and think their compensation structure is too rigid, but may work well for you if you have less experience in the Epic space. Not sure of their ownership, but I think they are still privately held. They do a company vacation together which is pretty unique.

    Vonlay – They are smaller than Nordic and have around 100 people now. They seem to be the only firm who has remained 100% Epic ex-Epic but I have heard grumblings that this might change for areas outside of Epic Application consulting. They have a local office with actual working space if you want to work out of the Madison area. They do more in the development and reporting space than the other firms and seem to work more on technical and strategic projects, but I am told they do everything the others do. They have Remote Services for non-travelers and the ability to do side jobs for hourly pay. Pay is generally the same as Nordic but they have better benefits. Had a friend recently go to the bench there but they do pay bench time if you are salaried. They are still privately held.

    Nordic- They have good leadership but their quality has been slipping lately and they are owned by the same VC companies that flipped MaxIT and Vitalize to SAIC. They are definitely not 100% ex-Epic, you can verify this by doing a quick LinkedIn check. Their VC backing and their size are advantages for placements now but they are quickly turning into another large staff mill. I guess we will see where they go with their plans to add additional services. Most people I talk to who worked there have good things to say. They do a good job selling and have a more professional marketing presence. The big thing with Nordic is will they sell again? Usually when VCs are involved a sale is in the near future.

    I think all the companies are pretty good, but Vonlay and Nordic seem to be a level above Sagacious when it comes to quality. The bigger question is who will be the better place to work for 2 or 3 years from now if the consulting bubble bursts or if a sale of the company is in the cards. Acquired companies seem to always implode in the consulting world. One other good Epic consulting company not mentioned is CIPE, they are based in the northwest and have a good reputation as well. I would suggest if you are interested in consulting that you check out all the companies to get a feel for which one you like best. There are pros and cons to each and you might be a better fit for one based on your individual characteristics.

    Hope this helps!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Sounds like Vonlay isn't just hiring ex-Epic anymore...time to take down their billboards that state they are 100% ex-Epic??

    ReplyDelete
  13. Another company that I have worked with is DCS - Dynamic Computing Systems. After working with various consulting firms over the last 8 years, I can confidently say they are the best in the business in my opinion. They take care of their employees and subcontractor as if they were one of their own. The group is friendly and treats you like family. They are hands off which is what I look for in a good firm.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Does anyone know anything about Cipe Consulting Group? Looks like it was started by former Epic employees and they're based out of the Seattle area (interesting?). I really, really (did I mention "really"?) like what they have to say on their website. It seems humble and genuine and the kind of culture I would want to be a part of. Is it true? Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi..Can you shed some light on 314e? Hows is the experience dealing with them? Is that company reputed, reliable? Or it's just like many "other" category of consulting companies(Their website has pretty generic/standard info...and it doesn't help much)

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    Replies
    1. I've been working primarily with Nordic - who definitely are the best firm to work with - with other companies calling me with possible opportunities - one such company being 314e. 314e found me several positions right after I sent them my resume but I passed on interviews until just recently. I accepted 3 interviews from Nordic and one from 314e and had an offer from the 314e client as soon as I hung up the phone. High offer, W2. I felt that 314e was professional and knew their business. They didn't lead me on and didn't hound me like some firms do. I wished that I had found something with Nordic - it wasn't for their lack of trying, more on my limitations on travel due to family but I like 314e and recommend them.

      Delete
  16. Another firm to look at is BlueTree Network. I am not working with them currently, but I have some friends who are and it sounds like they're doing some cool things. Vonlay, Nordic, and Cipe are all good choices too. Stay away from Sagacious. Even if you look at their website, their management staff was basically B team at Epic. Work with former Epic people who were good...not those who were on the bleeding edge of being fired.

    ReplyDelete
  17. In my situation, I'm currently in a contract position while my non-compete runs down. Both my non-compete and contract end in Feb. I have an offer from Sagacious and have been in talks with Nordic since last Feb. Just spoke to Nordic today and they say they are "100% sure" they can place me but they have to wait until after my non-compete is over because you aren't considered an employee until you are on a customer. Whereas, Sagacious hires you and then looks for projects. Nordic's numbers are way higher but I am nervous. It seems like a big risk to say no to Sagacious and wait for Nordic to act on their word. I don't want to be left with no job offer in the end. Any advice? Oh, I have like 2 days left to decide before my Sagacious offer is no longer valid...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A lot of people love Sagacious, but the fact that it's almost entirely ex-Epic frightens me, from a long-term company viability standpoint.* However, contracting is, by definition, temporary. I would say go with the option that gets you a guaranteed paycheck soonest. See if there's anything in Sagacious' legalese about having their own non-competes. If you're on the bench, you should be free to jump ship to any other company.

      As for my own experience, I was working a contract during my non-compete, similar to you. I had my resumes with Sagacious, Nordic, Vonlay, and probably others. From my info on LinkedIn, a company I'd never heard of contacted me, set me up with several interviews, placed me in a position, and only then did I go through the rigamarole of getting put on that consulting firm's payroll. No waiting on a bench, no delay in finding a position. On Friday, my contract with Company A ended, and on Monday I was working with Company B. If that sounds appealing, comment with your contact info and I can send you details. I won't publish the comment.

      * Epic pretty much only hires kids right out of college. For the most part, Epic is these folk's first real-world job. Since Sagacious employees were all steeped in the same toxic culture, I see Sagacious going the same way as Epic eventually. Compare it to getting your bachelor's and your master's from the same university--it's typically frowned upon. Having a broad range of experience is more useful than just learning the same things from the same people, and Sagacious just doesn't have that breadth of experience, from an individual standpoint and as a company.
      That's just one anonymous person's opinion though. Sagacious people, I will post whatever rebuttals you wish to enter.

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    2. I would not go with Sagacious unless you're comfortable being associated with a firm that hires anyone and everyone. It is best to align yourself with a company that prides itself on quality as that will get you better roles in the long-term. Additionally, remember that once you become salary, while you will have a guaranteed paycheck, you will likely get pressured into roles that are outside your scope. I've heard of people who were certified in one app (let's say Cadence) being pressured to do ADT or HB stuff because it is "close enough".

      I highly suggest you consider a firm that pays hourly, at least for now. The market is so hot that it should not take you long to find a job. And, when you compare what Sagacious will pay you versus some of the hourly firms (Nordic, Vonlay, BlueTree, Cipe), you'll see that you could either have a steady paycheck that is low, or possibly have some shorter stints that pay much more and allow you to take time off and find the best role for yourself.

      I think I saw in another post a recommendation that you should connect to all the firms and let them do the work for you. That is definitely the best way to go. Don't just limit yourself to Nordic. If the other companies haven't contacted you, contact them...they will be happy you did and I'm sure all of them will be jumping at the chance to find you a role.

      Remember, consulting is a very fast moving market so you should not be concerned AT ALL if you don't have a placement yet. Things are slowing down due to the holidays and will likely pick back up after the first of the year. I really recommend you get each firm working for you and then wait till about the middle of January to see what each one presents you with and take the one that is the best fit for you.

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    3. I appreciate the time you took to craft such sound advice, thank you!

      Delete
  18. I posted an inquiry about Cipe on this thread back in October but didn't receive any direct responses :(

    Anyway, I interviewed with all the Epic-focused consulting firms (Cipe, Nordic, Vonlay, Sagacious, BTN, etc.) and was most impressed by Cipe. (Honorable mention goes to BTN mostly because I like their business model.) Beyond that, I agreed with most of the feedback in this thread about each of the firms.

    A few things that made Cipe stand apart for me was their leadership, diversity, and culture (at least I was convinced). From a leadership perspective, they seem very selective and really seem to know Epic and I felt I could really learn from them and get the guidance I need/want as I transitioned into the "consulting" world. In terms of diversity, their consultants aren't all ex-Epic. This might be frowned upon from us ex-Epic folks, but I found the Cipeans (as they call themselves) to come from varied backgrounds (operations, clinical, statisticians, etc.) and they were high caliber folks (people I would be proud to call my colleagues...which is very important). But what I appreciated the most was their culture - they were the only firm that focused more on what I wanted and not just in terms of a role but what I wanted to accomplish in my career. They seemed flexible and open - and willing to help me develop. They seemed to genuinely care about me and if they were being disingenuous, I was fooled.

    All that said, I ended up not going with any of the firms and accepting a position with a no-travel management consulting firm. When I was faced with the reality of becoming a road warrior again (after not traveling during my non-compete), I just couldn't do it...

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  19. I also recently interviewed with many of the Epic firms and agree with the above poster. I think Cipe and BlueTree are the best firms to consider if you're looking to get into consulting. I don't think either of them are as big as Nordic or Vonlay, which you could consider to be a negative in that they may not be able to find you so many great opportunities moving forward, but in that case, you can always jump ship. In fact, BlueTree even said that they realize there may not be a perfect role for me once a contract ends and said they do a lot of things to help find the right role, even if it means losing me (with the idea that I would return at some point).

    Also, while many of these firms have ex-Epic people working for them (which has pros and cons), Nordic and Sagacious (that I know of) have a lot of account managers who have no healthcare or Epic background. That's a huge turnoff for me...how can they find the right role for me if they don't even know the space. I don't necessarily want a firm to have all ex-Epic people, but at least have people who have experience in the space and can ask the right questions of the client to ensure they get the right role.

    As for me, I'm doing what I can to get a role with BlueTree. They don't have anything yet, but they've been really transparent in what they have and I really like that they let all their consultants and prospects see every role they're working on in case I may be interested in something that's not obvious. They really seem to be focused on career growth and acknowledged that consulting isn't a long-term career choice for most of us, so they are doing what they can to help grow their consultants during that time and are even considering helping to place their consultants in FTE roles once they're ready to leave the market. That was really cool to me as it made it seem like they would really care about me as a person and not just a person to bring the dollars in.

    Ultimately, I have to make money, so if I can't find something with BlueTree, I'll likely go with Cipe. Then I would check with Vonlay and Sagacious. Like many said, I won't even consider Sagacious. I've heard some horror stories and I am not impressed by the people they have running the show there. But, to each his own!

    Best of luck to all of you in your hunt! I just discovered this blog and it has been extremely helpful to me. Perhaps you should advertise it? You could be the new Mr. HISTalk of the HIT consulting world!

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  20. Vonlay and Cipe were acquired, so that may change things a bit.

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  21. Venture capital and investment baking firms have a large stake in Nordic, so they are now beholden to the almighty dollar. That's what allowed Mark Bakken to start his own venture capital company (got chips off the table with the investment). Quality is really slipping and they're getting sloppy. I spoke w/ them about a role once and they then handed me off to another person who had no idea of any previous discussions. I felt like another cog in the wheel. At the end of the day, if they can find me the best contract, I'll work through them, but I certainly won't be jumping at the opportunity to do so. Pretty sad as they used to be pretty good.

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  22. I'm an ex-Epic IS that just finished my non-compete about the couple of months ago. I'm now looking for consulting gigs. I'm in the talks with Sagacious and Nordic right now. I'm wondering (to readers, but mainly TheAdministrator):

    Sounds like everyone so far recommends just reaching out to all of the consulting firms that let the best and quickest offer win - with all the takeovers and change in management this past year, is that still the recommendation (still talk to Cipe, Vonlay, etc.)?

    Does you feel that the work is slowing down (I'm IP Clinical)? Sagacious has been trying to find me a real gig for like 3 months with no success...is that just failure on their part or an indication of the growth of the industry?

    What are your thoughts about Epic becoming a consulting firm. Any inside news as to more details of what it is? I've only heard that they're considering it like this past February.

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    Replies
    1. I've been FTE for the last couple of years, but from what I can tell, that's still the best way to go--apply with everyone and let the first one with the right pay win.

      As far as work slowing down--what I'm seeing in my own corner of the world is a lot fewer implementations, but a much higher demand for ongoing support. My team's size has grown by about 400% in 2-3 years and we still have open positions to fill. I don't know what Sagacious' problem is, but my employer has hired IP certified folks for Amb support, then certified the new hire in Ambulatory. That's for FTEs though. If you want consulting, I suggest Parker or HCI--most of the contractors we still have are with those two firms.

      I know about as much as you do re: Epic as its own consulting firm. If anyone has inside info, I'll post it.

      Delete
  23. Sorry, I haven't been following completely, but I thought you were a consultant for a while?

    How do you like FTE work? What are the pros and cons of it compared to consulting? Work-life balance? Pay?

    Just interested in hearing more so that I know all the options out there.

    Thanks for the quick response!

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    Replies
    1. I consulted briefly (~1 year), and it was a contract-to-hire gig.

      Consulting pros:
      You'll get the highest paycheck from consulting.
      Your hours are topped at 40, except in rare circumstances (major project go-lives).
      If you don't like your current placement, you don't have to stay and there's no bad mark on your resume.
      Consulting cons:
      You'll travel every week. Depending on where you live and where your client is, you could be in planes and airports for a good chunk of your weekend, non-billable time. That can eat into the work-life balance unless you live locally to your client.
      No job security. Contracts can be cancelled and you can be let go at a moment's notice. You never know when it won't get renewed.
      No insurance/crappy insurance. Bluntly, Obamacare failed. If your consulting company offers insurance, it's likely going to be awkward to use (networks that don't apply to your home location, or work location, or both) and have expensive premiums and out of pocket expenses.
      Family: you won't see it if you're traveling all the time.

      FTE pros:
      Job security: it's a long, hard process to fire someone, typically. You have a reasonable expectation that you'll still be employed this time next month.
      Insurance: Much better than what's available on public markets, and your employer will cover more of it than a consulting firm.
      FTE Cons:
      You'll be the go-to people for after hours support. They won't pay contractors for that.
      Work-life balance. It's a crapshoot. Depending on the organization, it'll either be great or terrible.
      The pay is a lot less than consulting. When I switched from consulting to FTE, I took a 20% pay cut (which was a cut from 225% what I made at epic, but still). My consulting firm was paying my mortgage for me in lieu of putting me in a hotel. I had to start making those payments again, and it wasn't fun.

      Hope that helps.

      Delete
    2. @TheAdministrator, thanks for sharing your experience and take with us :-)

      I find it interesting that you only took a 20% pay cut to go FTE. Mind if I ask how much you were getting as a consultant? After my first consulting contract where I was getting $100/hour take home, I got approached about being an FTE with a salary from $100K to $120K. I decided to stay in consulting and have generally enjoyed the freedom and flexibility. However, I may look to go FTE at some point when I get tired of constantly moving/changing projects.

      Brilliant idea about getting your mortgage paid off :-) I've thought about that myself but wasn't sure how to present the expense to the customer. Did you essentially lease it to yourself on a week-to-week or monthly basis? Did the customer know you owned it? I'd be very curious as to how this was arranged.

      Delete
    3. I discovered recently that I was extremely underpaid as a consultant. It was about $50/hr, and all the ancillaries (paid room/board/transportation) made my effective pay about $60-70/hr.

      As for the mortgage, I started off in a hotel. It was a contract-to-hire gig, as I mentioned, and I needed to find an actual place to live. I had been turning in the hotel receipts, so I knew what that was costing--turns out four weeks in a hotel is more expensive than a month in a bona fide house. I said to my consulting pimp: "This is my house payment. It's cheaper than the hotel. Reimburse please." They did without a fuss.

      Delete
  24. It's helpful for sure. Thank you!!

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  25. Stay away from Sagacious!! Shady people leadership that doesn't back their employees with difficult clients. They pay once a month which stinks. Loved Nordic but they make sure the ex epic consultants get jobs first before other consultants.

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  26. It should also be noted that rumor on the street is that Sagacious is on probation with Epic for violating non-compete rules and, thus, none of their consultants can access the Userweb or attend training. However, Sagacious is apparently not telling consultants that during the recruiting process and allowing them to find out after the fact that they work for a firm that is obviously not in Epic's good graces or won't allow them to do their job as effectively as any other consultant. Shady is right!

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  27. Work at Nordic is slowing down, quality of employment is not great. Expect to work for practice directors who aren't invested in finding you work.

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  28. I work for Nordic now and I generally like it. Yes, the health insurance options aren't great (you might want to shop your state's exchange), but they do offer free (and good) dental and vision. They are solid and definitely have a personal touch, and most of their leadership and practice directors are former Epic, but keep in mind they are still a consulting firm, and if they can't find you work, you should look for someone who can. This is not the industry to be in if you're loyal.

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  29. This is a fanstic blog. Thank you everyone. I will be entering the Epic consulting market soon, so no lessons learned yet. However, I wanted to share with you every company that I have interacted with, submitted my resume to, or that has simply posted some sort of Epic contract out there:

    CSI Healthcare IT

    Sagacious

    Nordic

    Bluetree Network

    Huron

    Cumberland

    The Chartis group

    Soliant

    HCI Group

    ObjectWin

    Innovative congsulting group

    Stontelberg consulting

    Accenture

    Optimum Heal

    Saam

    Memorial Health

    FutureStep

    Warbird consulting

    Blueprint resources

    Direct Consulting associates

    Orchestrate Healthcare

    Oxford

    Parker Healthcare It

    There are in no order of preference or importance thoiugh it is worth mentioning that Vonlay (now Huron), Nordic, and Bluetree Network seem by far superior. Good luck with the transition.

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  30. Hi. I currently hold an FTE position, am not an Epic ex-employee, and am entertaining the thought of being a consultant. I am certified in Beaker, Bridges, and Inpatient. What is the current state of the consulting industry. Have I missed the band wagon? I'm not happy with where I'm at.

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  31. I am currently interviewing with both Nordic and Segacious. The acquisition of Segacious concerns me being a former VCS analyst. The change to big company killed their culture. As for Nordic their hourly sounds great but there is no vacation or sick time and benefits are limited with medical being just as much as exchange rates. Segacious provides stability with their salary only option and the new Accenture acquisition allows them to offer numerous benefits at discounted group rates. Plus their perk package of the 2 trips sounds great (hopefully will last post acquisition). So I'm really struggling between the 2 as far as best fit. I do have a family and stability is nice. But big hourly rate is great too. What are current state thoughts on these two at present.

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    Replies
    1. Sagacious was never good. Ask any former Epic employee what their reputation is at Epic and among seasoned Epic professionals. They take everyone who got fired. Nordic used to be great, but they've slid quite a bit since they've gotten so big. There are better firms out there...keep looking.

      Delete
    2. which are the better firms these days? So many of these posts/recommendations seem to be out of date according to more recent posters.

      Delete
    3. What are the hourly rates these days for ex-Epic people with 3+ years on analyst contracts? Want to make sure I'm being fairly compensated. Saw the $100-115 range on here but that was three years ago -- does that still apply?

      Delete
    4. I've seen consultants pulling in $100/hr, and consultants with the same firm at the same customer site bringing in $50/hr. It varies wildly.

      As for which firms are still good--I don't know. I rely on the kindness of strangers to answer that.

      Delete
    5. Depending on what role or app you're on, you should expect 80-100 for three years of Epic experience. 100 is likely pushing it...more in the 80/90 range.

      Delete
  32. I'm a former Epic employee who has worked as both FTE and consultant. (Epic for 4 years, FTE for 7 years, consultant for 4 years.) I've been around a lot of consulting firms as a hiring manager, a consultant, and a coworker. All I can say is that consulting firms are RAPIDLY changing organizations. Firms spring up, get sold, and go out of business at the drop of a hat. Plus, they're not homogeneous. One recruiter could be awesome, and the next one is terrible. Ditto for the consultants they're selling: anywhere from awful to amazing. I've personally worked for Soliant, Modis, Oxford, and Healthcare IT Leaders. They've all been fine, and they all offer the same basic package. The compensation will depend a lot on the contract you're submitted for. Keep in mind that nearly all the firms are fishing in the same contract pond. So, as long as you're a top notch talent, and your compensation is in line with your experience, you should have no problem no matter where you go.

    Note: there are a few firms that amazingly secure "exclusive" rights to a customer. I have no idea why a customer would do this, but it's easy to see why a recruiting firm would do it. You MUST work with that firm to be considered for the contract.

    I spent the longest at Oxford, but my favorite contract was with Healthcare IT Leaders. It had very little to do with the firm. I just liked the customer better. One of the reasons I stayed at Oxford longer was because they sent me for two additional training classes on their dime as long as I paid for the travel to Madison myself. I had to sign a contract that said I'd pay back the cost of training if I went elsewhere in less than a year. (In case you're wondering, the classes cost $440/day, e.g. a three-day class costs $1,320.) For me, it was totally worth it. Not all recruiting firms are able to offer this. It's at Epic's discretion whether your firm is a "partner" or not.

    In addition to the firms I've worked for (Modis, Soliant, Oxford, and Healthcare IT Leaders), I've worked alongside many other consultants from Sagacious, Nordic, and Cumberland (formerly Cipe). There are good and bad consultants from all of them. And, I'll bet if you took a survey, they'd say there are good and bad recruiters at the same firm. But the key is this: I was WORKING with them. That means these are legit companies and they can bring home the contracts. Smaller companies tend to get drown out (and then just go out of business).

    So, my advice is to send your resume to several of the biggies and wait for the right position to come along.

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  33. Any people who just recently entered the consulting market out there ready to comment on their experiences? Would love to hear thoughts on best firms, rates, how competitive it is, best way to break in... anything really! It sounds like it changes yearly and there's not much on late 2016/early 2017 out there.

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  34. Does anyone have good experiences working with specific firms for hourly go-live support contracts?

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