Consultants rely on building a good reputation for securing work so of course every one of them will be good, right? Wrong!

I have worked with lots of very good consultants but I have also seen clients suffer bad experiences that could have been avoided.

So here are my 10 suggestions for you to consider when engaging a consultant:-

  1. Expertise – do they have the right knowledge and skills? Are they an expert in their field? Make sure the consultant is clear on how they will address your needs and ask them for examples of their work if necessary.
  2. Experience – what experience does the consultant have? Beware of theorists and generalists. Make sure the consultant has a track record of delivery in what you are seeking.
  3. Credentials – check what accreditations and qualifications they have and get evidence if necessary. You wouldn’t let an unregistered gas fitter install a boiler in your house so why would you let an unqualified consultant loose in your organisation?
  4. Price and Value For Money – Cheapest is rarely best.  Equally I have seen consultants charging extortionate amounts of money for straightforward work. My advice is to get some comparisons. Bear in mind that price needs to be considered alongside value for money so think about the benefits the consultant will deliver for you. Consultants should respect the fact that you are paying good money for their services and strive to add high value.
  5. Recommendations – Can you get some reliable recommendations about work the consultant has done? Good consultants won’t mind you making enquiries and these days it’s easy to track down relevant people.
  6. Who Will Do The Work? – Particularly when dealing with large firms of consultants be clear on who will actually do the work. I’ve seen situations where clients like the consultants they meet during the sales process only to find later that the work has been delegated to junior staff who don’t have the same credentials, aptitude or experience.
  7. Can You Work With Them? – The consultant has to ‘fit’ with your organisation, your stakeholders and your team members. If they don’t ‘fit in’ the work will not get done and your value for money diminishes rapidly.
  8. A Clear Plan – When I meet with new clients, many of them have ideas about what they want but either don’t know how to get there or cannot define the deliverables required. A good consultant will provide input, advice and direction to ensure the outcomes are clear.
  9. Communication – Can the consultant communicate and engage with you? Consider the role they will be undertaking and whether the consultant will be delivering workshops, presentations, training, writing reports and plans etc.
  10. Timeframe – How long do you need the consultant for? Don’t enter into open ended arrangements. Agree targets and deadlines with the consultant.

Hiring a consultant is like buying any other commodity so having considered the above points if you have doubts – seek alternatives. There’s lots of good consultants out there.

September 13, 2012 at 9:00 am
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