We often hire consultants where we need to step into unknown territory. It may be setting up HR policies, Sales and Marketing strategy, Software, Legal procedures, working on Technical verticals etc. Often our expectation is that consultant (being an expert) will guide and lead us to cruise through the unknown territory.
However, how we can ensure that we get value from these engagements? How do we know if consultant (we hire) will meet our expectations? How we ensure that consultant is guiding us in the right direction?
Well, I am sharing following tips with you:
- Decide if you are hiring a Consultant or Contractor: Industry does not make distinction between Consultant/Contractor and use both terms interchangeably. However, there is a big difference. Decide upfront, if you are requiring a Consultant or a Contractor.
- Choose your Consultant: Go extra mile to select the best consultant. Review consultant profile, meet with them in-person, check out their previous work, check references (direct and indirect), test them with the simulated scenarios.
- Check if consultant is Simplicity master or Complexity master: Obviously, you need a Simplicity master.
- Provide safe environment to consultant: Consultants cannot (should not) work in isolation. Depending on type of work, they need to collaborate with your employees, review data, reports and interview staff etc. Consultant needs to be supported in your organisation. Often there can be resistance due to change, political, social, cultural issues. It is your duty to provide Consultant safe environment, where Consultant can perform their work.
- Set the Scene/Induction: When Consultant is engaged, provide clear instructions on the goals, existing problems, constraints, assumptions, boundaries, political structure, cultural considerations, tools, available support and stakeholders etc.
- Treat consultant’s engagement as a Project: Set Plan, Prepare for the agreed plan, Execute the plan, Control the Project and Close the Project. Set clear constraints of budget, time and quality. If we don’t manage it as a project than Consultant’s engagement may end up as a temporary employee or contractor. Earned value from such engagement will be substantially low.
- Provide right resources: To maximise utilisation provide consultant with the required assistance on admin, reporting, data mining etc. If possible, your employees should do the groundwork for the consultant.
- Status update is must: Consultant must provide status update report at the agreed frequency (daily, weekly etc.).
- Prioritise the effort: Everything within business is a risk. However, with the limited resources consultant should focus his energy to mitigate high probability and high severity risks. Similarly, keep on monitoring and guiding consultant things that are important to you and your business. Channel energy for the things that are actually important.
- Consultant should transfer knowledge: Before Consultant shake hands and say ‘Goodbye’, check if all appropriate knowledge is transferred to your business. Try to be self-sufficient as much as it is possible.
I hope that helps! Share your thoughts, views and experiences!