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Site supports hiring IT consultants online

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Need to find a consulting firm to build your e-commerce system? Point your browser to www.IQ4hire.com, a new Internet exchange for buyers and sellers of IT professional services.

The Web site, currently in beta mode but scheduled for launch this summer, allows corporations to put complex systems integration projects out for bid and provides tools for selecting the right consulting firm. It also offers a standard, electronic process for purchasing consulting services in such areas as e-business, customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning.

The site targets chief information officers and IT managers who farm out complex systems development projects. "We are not a services exchange that's built around free agents," explains CEO Brian Sommer, a 20-year veteran of Andersen Consulting. "These are large projects for large companies serviced by large integrators."

The site provides project planning tools that help users estimate the size of their development efforts, the timeframe required, the kinds of people they need to hire, and the billing rates they can expect to pay. The site has a database of information about systems integrators and tools that help identify the five firms that are best able to respond to a particular bid.

So far, IQ4hire.com has signed up 20 integrators and five corporate buyers that have $27 million in outstanding contracts. The site makes money by charging a few percentage points of each deal to both the corporate buyer and the consulting firm. The consulting firms also have to pay an annual fee to belong to the exchange.

Sommer says that what differentiates IQ4hire.com from other systems integration marketplaces under development are its estimation and pricing tools. Another special feature of IQ4hire.com is that staff reviews all bids before they go out to the integration community.

"The most important factors to [CIOs] are not price or speed. What they want is access to our metrics on how much something should cost," Sommer says. "They want references about firms and consultants. They want to be empowered so that as they sit at an executive committee meeting and get questioned about a contract, they have the ammunition to justify their decisions."

IQ4hire.com, in Chicago, was founded in January and raised $3.5 million in its initial round of venture financing. In June, the company plans to announce another round of financing as well as its first customers.

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