Hiring A Consultant
Businesses today rely more heavily on consultants to provide skills that are
missing from the organization. Hiring a consultant and managing the resulting
project, however, can be a daunting task. To make things a little easier,
remember these three concepts: Scope, Relationship, Management.
Before hiring a consultant, you need to define what you want to accomplish or
create. The proper consultant can fill the void in your business, but only if
you can communicate your needs.
First of all, keep your project goals focused. Second, divide the project
into phases, creating manageable chunks of work. In conjunction, gather as much
peripheral information as possible: how you run your business; employee input;
your future needs and vision; and impacts on customers and vendors. This
additional information will give the consultant a broader view of your needs and
how you operate your business.
The consultant suitable for you will not only be able to listen effectively
to your needs, but will also be able to reiterate what you asked for.
Additionally, they should also be able to recognize and suggest enhancements to
your project, a sign that they are skilled and aware of your business. A
consultant who dictates to you or insists on a rigid solution is NOT working for
Your relationship to the consultant is very important.
Typically, because you are hiring someone who works outside of your field of
knowledge, it is hard to evaluate the consultantís expertise and competence.
Therefore, you must develop a relationship. Do you feel that you can trust the
consultant? What was your first impression? Does the consultant posses candor?
Does the consultantís ego interfere with your concept of the project? If you
find yourself uncomfortable, start your search anew. Consider that your
relationship may last many years.
Before starting your project, you should understand how
the project will proceed, what you will receive at a given milestone, and the
time and costs involved. Ask questions. Read and understand proposals.
Use this process as an education.
Once youíve hired the consultant and started the project, you need to take
an active part in the work being performed. Remember that ultimately, this is
your vision, and you need to ensure that your vision is realized. Ask for
progress reports. Be prepared to work out remedies to problems that develop.
Maintain contact with your consultant so that neither party is working in
Hiring a consultant is an investment in your business and your future. Hiring
a consultant who understands your needs, works with you and provides a good
product is an immeasurable return on that investment.