Looking for a Consultant? Here’s the Ultimate Checklist
There’s always a time when you’re about to start something new — a new program within your organization, a new project or an experimental launch, or anything you’re attempting for the first time. There’s also that moment when you’re in a transition period. Perhaps you’re expanding or downsizing or moving key personnel across the board. Then there’s the inevitable, the one thing everybody prays never happens but still does — when there’s a serious problem within the organization, and worse, nobody from the organic staff can seem to solve it.
Who do you call?
But it’s not as easy as that. It’s not like there’s a fire a you call the fire department. Of course, you first need to consider three important things – the triple constraints, as project managers call them:
- Cost/Budget – Is money your concern? How much are you willing to pay?
- Deadline – What’s the timeframe of the project? Is it urgent?
- Scope of work – What exactly do you want the consultant to do? Is there a specific expertise you are looking for?
It’s important that you first answer these questions because the kind of consultant (and even the consulting firm) you choose depends on your answers. Under ideal circumstances – meaning, you have ample budget, the timeframe is flexible, and you’ve clearly outlined the consultant’s scope of work – choosing the right consultant won’t be a problem, for obvious reasons. Otherwise, you really need to identify your constraints before knowing what to look for in a consultant.
Granting you’ve already done that, here are the non-negotiables when choosing the right one for you:
- You’d want value for money. Whether you have a limited or more than enough budget, you’d still want to get what you’re paying for. As a general rule, find a consultant who can deliver higher quality services in less time. However, there is no formula in discovering that kind of consultant. Resumes alone cannot guarantee a consultant’s real value – there are plenty of them who have good credentials and ample experience but still perform no better than beginners, and vice versa. Interviews are a better indicator of potential fit, but make sure the consultant you interview is the one who will do the actual work and not just some stand-in. Sometimes, character and work ethic matter more than what you see on paper. It’s really more of a trial-and-error method, and if you’re a decent judge of character, you’d know which one to get.
You hire a consultant because you and your team rely on him or her to do something that you can’t. The consultant’s job is to deliver. Sounds simple, but it’s the number one quality needed to build trust and credibility among your organization and your clients. Find one who can accomplish both rote tasks such as taking down notes and organizing things and complex assignments that need analysis and other hi