As a manager years ago, when faced with my first challenge of finding an external consultant, I was all at sea. The good thing is that I intuitively struck two of the three selection goals. The project was to make a communication video, so it has been relatively easy to see and examine what each consultant got previously produced. I had several consultants to choose from, but ultimately chose the one that I sensed most comfortable with, and whoever work impressed me many. The project was prosperous, and in the process, I figured out a lot.
Since then, I have been required to employ several consultants, Plus a consultant myself for 20 years, and I have worked quite a few other consultancies, both vast and small. The following strategies for selecting a consultant are based on our experience as a manager, including in the consultancy field.
Which are the three targets that one needs to hit to decide on a consultant successfully? (Note; I am using the word “consultant” to refer to just one person or a consultancy firm). Firstly and most obviously, the consultant must be able to do the work. Secondly, the specialist must be able to fit in with individuals in your organization and, specifically, those who will be working on this specific project. Finally, if the specialist is good, you should constantly improve your knowledge due to the job.
1 . Can the consultant do the actual work? Seems obvious, yet there are some traps. For instance, when starting as a specialist in partnership with another (who has also been new to the role), submitting a tender for a large job, and getting selected in the final number of interviews. Individually, there was some experience with the type of work, but not for a partnership, nor had most of us worked in the prospective consumer’s industry. We won the career. Why? The client saw with us some creativity and freshness that was not visible in our competitors. However, this has been an unusual client. Typically, Rankings do not suggest taking on a new consultant (like us), having not had the degree nor breadth of practical experience in the project. So, except when one of your criteria is definitely “freshness,” in terms of selecting to get experience, here are some tips:
o Exactly what are your specifications? Be obvious about the outputs you will require inside the project. These should constantly be tested in terms of quality, quantity, a moment cost. Use these production criteria to compare consultants.
Who has recommended this therapist? Check their references instructions and ask for the contact with the last job they did. If checking references, use your preceding “output criteria” as information.
o Are you looking for someone to put into practice solutions to a problem you have known to be, or are you looking for professionals to help you identify and discuss the problem? Or both? That can be useful to split often the project into these two pieces.
o In discussions with the prospective consultants, do they give you the time to say what you look for before jumping to conclusions? If they appear to “have every one of the answers,” chances are they do not listen closely very well.
o Does their suggested solution appear to be specifically made for you, or is it any “one size fits all”? Be wary if it is not specifically made to meet your project criteria.
a Do they explain the things they cannot do as well as those they could? This is always a good check of integrity, truthfulness, and reliability.
o Is their particular initial response to your ask for up to your quality specifications sufficiently detailed (but certainly not overly so) to make a selection and within your time anticipations?
o Does the consultant have the depth of expertise in the material and breadth of expertise inside the application?
o, Ask the consultant what is unique about the man or her. What makes these stand out from all the other consultants you could choose?
2 . Secondly, does the consultant fit in with the people they will have them working with? This is a critical rendering issue, as while they may be able to do the work, should they can’t work harmoniously with all the people, the results will be a lot less than optimal. For instance, as soon as working on a significant government task (total budget over M$43) where the client continually held us at arm’s length (for example, in a residential class, we were not encouraged to consume or mix socially using the client project leaders). All of us met the output requirements for your client, but had we been allowed to work much more closely with the client, they might have received a lot more value-added support. In this case, the client should have chosen another consultant.
The following tips can help ensure you get the correct client/consultant match-up.
o Is the consultant probably able to gain the regard and trust of your crucial stakeholders?
o Could you believe in this person (people)?
o Very best process they will use? We. e, How will they function within the organization? How will that be seen? Try to visualize typically the consultant working with you and the many people as they complete the venture. Will it work? Is it ofttimes be a good partnership?
o Who specifically (from the consultancy) will be working on the venture, and what will be their role? For instance, will the people you are legitimate to be carrying out the work? Be suspicious of consultancies that have “front people” that win the roles, then send in less encountered people to do the work.
e Ask the consultant to spell out what a “good working relationship” looks like to them. Is the outline the consultant gives you of any “good working relationship” of times be, and to be seen to be, some partnership?
3. Thirdly, have you been able to learn from this kind of consultant? One of the reasons you work with a consultant is that you (or your organization) do not typically have the depth nor breadth involving experience to accomplish the project. One of your aims should be to increase your individual experience through this venture. For example:
o Why do you decide to employ a consultant? Precisely what were the gaps you may not fill internally?
e What will you be prone to learn from this consultant?
Will, you increase your knowledge of each process management (how the actual consultant works) and content material management (their area of expertise)?
o Will the consultant reinforce and support your part in the organization?
Finally, if all of your criteria have been fulfilled and you cannot decide between two equal experts, consider setting them a little task or part of the task to complete as part of the selection process. Some years ago, we competed with another big consultancy for a sizeable task with an initial budget of around M$1. The client could not choose between the two of us. Therefore, he asked us to undertake a small project (for which he paid all of us both), which would ultimately turn out to be part of the larger project. Whenever we each completed a small task, he had an excellent idea of each of our capabilities and the way we worked. After all, isn’t very the final selection criterion trying the consultant out?
Oh yea, yes. In case you’re asking yourself, we won the job!
Rettighed © 2006 The Country-wide Learning Institute
Bob Selden has been a consultant since 1987. Prior to that, he was a senior citizen manager within an organization exactly where he was regularly required to make use of consultants. As Managing Representative of the National Learning Commence, he often sees both equally successful and less successful consultant/client relationships. He is happy to offer free tips, or tips – you may contact Joe via.