Many companies and executives choose to hire outside consultants to complete projects that they lack the in house skills, time, or objectivity to complete themselves.
However, making the choice to work with outside consultants can be a tricky proposition, and does involve a large amount of input along the way from the company or executive involved.
Rather than abdicating responsibility for your project when hiring a consultant, follow these 6 steps to make sure your consulting project is a success:
- Create a comprehensive brief, outlining your requirements, desired results and outcomes, resources you are willing to commit, and any other information that can help your consultant complete the task at hand easily, quickly, efficiently and to your satisfaction.
- Be prepared to take a hands on role – attend meetings or brainstorming sessions, make sure you make yourself available when your consultant needs advice and direction.
- Choose a consultant based on their capability and capacity for these reasons – opting for the expert if you have little time and resources to devote to the project is a great idea. If, however, you have more time and effort available, you could choose a smaller, lesser known (and cheaper) consulting firm.
- Make sure your hire is not based on politics, and that there are no politics at play while your project is underway. Having internal issues in your organization is one thing – allowing those issues to interfere with the work of a consultant you have hired is quite another – it’s counter productive, and will end up costing you time and money, if not the success of the entire project.
- Always bear in mind that if you are the executive choosing and hiring a consulting firm or even a temporary, independent consultant, the success or failure of the project will reflect on you. Choosing the right consultant, providing them with the tools and resources to complete the project, can be a great success for you. The opposite is true of a project fraught with problems!
- Objectivity is also key. Make sure you choose the best consultant for the job. Choosing based on having worked together before, or even an existing relationship, damages not only your credibility, but the consultant or firm you choose.
The bottom line when choosing a consultant – in fact, before you even advertise a consulting job, is to define your reasons for using a consultant, decide what level of commitment you are prepared to provide, and make sure you know exactly what you need from the consultant you hire.