When you’re settling in to select a consultant – I mean that stage where you’re down to the last handful of prospective consultants, you’re ready to choose – it becomes critical to break down the possibilities to their most minute details. Y0u want to be sure that you get big bang for your bucks. Top rate consultants are incredibly expensive and you’d feel a fool if you didn’t do you due diligence. On the other hand, less expensive ones may not actually have the niche skills or the right mentality for your organization. Either side has it’s down falls and both require you to make the most intelligent investment you can.
Here are questions to ask the consultant as well as some things to think about yourself.
Is this a single consultant? Or do they represent a firm?
A single consultant means a much more personal relationship and attachment to the issues, while a firm may be able to bring more resources to the forefront.
Are you guaranteed a relationship with one consultant?
This can both help and hinder. While a relationship with the consultant can help, sometimes it indoctrinates them into your mentalities which may be exactly what is holding you back.
Does their education build to their ability?
Some people have studied the field they work in, others gained their consultancy other ways. Having a textbook approach or background knowledge can help.
Do they have experience? Relevant Experience
Experience is one thing, relevant experience is a whole different bag. When someone has worked with a project similar to yours or with software similar to yours, it will make the first steps go so much more easily.
What strategies do they employ? Particular preferred tactics?
Don’t hesitate to ask these questions. Your prospect should have certain templates he or she uses to assess, address and initiate work on a project. Hearing about them will help you gain an understanding of what to expect. That way, when you don’t see them for a month, you’ll know they are in their research phase.
Do they support themselves through consulting alone?
If they are fully supported by consulting, you can tell they are established and take it rather seriously. That way you can be assured they’re dedicating their fullest effort to your project.
How frequently do they get repeat business?
Repeat business and referrals are a high mark on their report card. It means they’ve done solid work for someone else.
Does the consultant truly have the capacity for this job?
How many other projects do they have? How much energy do they devote to each? At the end of the day, a consultant may overload themselves and not dedicate the energy required for your job. Make sure your project gets it’s due.
When you get through these questions, you’ll have a solid idea of how well your consultant is going to fit. More importantly, you’ll have a solid metric for the quality of your investment.