If you or your company chooses to hire consultants to complete specific tasks, making the right selection can make or break the project or task in question. The process of finding and selecting qualified consultants for your projects involves many steps, and here are a few things you may want to consider:
- What is the scope and specific requirements of the project? This helps to narrow the consultant search, by identifying key skills and aptitudes, as well as expertise required.
- What processes and steps are involved in reaching the desired outcome? Once the type of consultant required is defined, you still need to ascertain which particular consultants have the specific experience and even resources required. A small contract could be assigned to an independent consultant, but a large, complex one that requires a team would be better suited to a consulting firm.
- Another key factor in choosing a consultant is the value associated with the project, whether in terms of prestige or actual cost. A smaller, less critical project can be assigned to a less established consultant or to a less experienced consultant from an established firm. A project that carries a high financial or other value should be assigned to only the best consulting firm available.
- Apportion resources. If you are willing to provide office space, access to equipment, or even staff, it can make hiring a consultant a much less costly proposition. However, if cost is not the main criteria, but rather completing the project with minimal interruption to your business, you may want to choose a larger consultancy that uses their own resources.
- Set parameters. Consultants, like any other business people, provide estimates of cost based on a specific definition of the project at hand. Make sure that the brief you provide contains all the information, on the entire project, in order to ensure that the consultant you choose bases his or her estimate on all work required, or ask for rates, to be applied to any “extras” you may need.
Even when all of the above have been addressed, it is still possible that mistakes can be made. These can be attributed to a host of factors.
Assuming that a consultant can provide a quick and easy solution to a complex problem is one, as is the practice of hiring a consultant for a personal political agenda within a company.
Hiring a consultant for an unbiased, objective opinion or solution, and then ignoring that opinion or solution is another mistake many clients make. If you are prepared to make the decision to hire a consultant, and then finding qualified consultants, means you need to commit to following, or at least seriously considering, their findings or recommendations. Otherwise, you are wasting money, and they are wasting time!
Choosing a consultant based on cost, where they provide the lowest bid or proposal is a big mistake, as they may lack the necessary skills. Likewise, choosing a consultant based on their good name or reputation, when they actually lack the specific skills or approach for the project at hand is another.
Clearly, there are many factors involved in hiring a consultant. Choosing carefully and hiring the right consultant for the job can yield great results. The opposite is true for a rushed or rash choice.
Taking these tips to heart, and making an informed and considered decision makes all the difference.