Executives are held accountable to make sure company funds are being used wisely. A solid connection with excellent consultants can make limited finances go a long way, so finding a consultant who can become a useful member of your team is critical.
Choosing to work with a consultant isn’t enough to ensure a successful engagement. You must clearly define your objectives and collaborate to guarantee that they are achieved. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind while working with consultants.
KNOW WHAT YOUR GOALS ARE
Take the time to properly comprehend the challenges you wish to tackle before hiring a consultant. Make it clear what you anticipate the consultant to deliver, and identify any important stakeholders who may need to be involved in the project. It’s also critical to identify any potential roadblocks to the project and to be extremely clear about your time frame and budget.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT CONSULTANT
Once you’ve determined your goals, look for a consultant with the necessary skills and experience. For example, you may want someone who speaks fluent Spanish, understands qualitative data analysis, and has the interpersonal skills to work well with your team.
Would you rather deal with a sole proprietor or a larger consulting organization with greater resources? Is it necessary to hire a consultant who is familiar with your community, or would it be beneficial to have an outside perspective? Once you’ve narrowed down your options, make sure to verify references and do your research before signing anything.
ESTABLISH A CLEAR RELATIONSHIP
When you start a project with a new consultant, you are building the groundwork for a long-term partnership that will benefit both you and your business. Take the time to fully explain your requirements and to answer any questions the consultant may have. Make sure both of you will agree on the scope of work: Include specific deliverables, a timetable, and a budget.
Determine how you will collaborate: Do you wish to be kept up to date through email or phone? How frequently? Do you wish to plan in-person meetings at crucial project milestones? Finally, offer all required introductions to your consultant, as well as background information and, if necessary, infrastructure support.
PLAN FOR SUCCESS.
Even if you have the best consultant on your team, you won’t be able to allocate everything, therefore plan ahead of time to manage your project. You may wish to meet with your consultant on a frequent basis to address any concerns, solve any issues, review draft surveys and reports, or discuss preliminary findings. Pay the consultant on time, and keep in mind that if you add deliverables to the contract, the cost and schedule may need to be extended as well.
CONCLUDE AND DEBRIEF THE ENGAGEMENT.
Although it may seem obvious, it is critical to officially end your engagement when it is complete — or when you are ready to move on to the next step. Schedule a meeting with your consultant to offer feedback on the deliverable and to discuss how you intend to use the findings in your organization. Discuss how you can work more effectively together in the future in an open and honest dialogue regarding the consulting partnership. We all learn via experience, and here is your best chance to share what you’ve learned.
When you approach your engagement with a consultant with a shared, clear knowledge of your objectives, duties, and expectations, you are well on your way to success. Working as a team and managing the project as a group brings you one step closer to your final goal. And with clear follow-up on what worked and where there were obstacles, you can find yourself on your way to a long-term business partnership that benefits everyone.