Since that time, I have had to employ a number of consultants, I have been a consultant myself for almost 20 years, and I have worked with many other consultancies both large and small. The following suggestions for selecting a consultant are based on my experience as a manager and in the consultancy field.
What are the three targets that one must hit to successfully select a consultant? (Note; I am using the term “consultant” to refer to either one person or a consultancy firm). Firstly and most obviously, the consultant must be able to actually do the work. Secondly, the consultant must be able to fit in with the people in your organisation and particularly those who will be working on this project. Finally, if the consultant is good, you should always improve your own knowledge as a result of the project.
1. Can the consultant do the work? Seems obvious, but there are some traps. For instance, I remember when starting out as a consultant in partnership with another (who was also new to the role), submitting a tender for a fairly large job and being selected in the final few for interview. Individually, we’d had some experience in the type of work, but not as a partnership, nor had we worked in the prospective client’s industry. We won the job. Why? The client saw in us some creativity and freshness menschen im vertrieb that was not evident in our competitors. However, this was an unusual client. Normally, I would not suggest taking on a consultant (like us) who has not had the depth nor breadth of experience in the project. So, unless one of your criteria is “freshness”, in terms of selecting for experience here are some tips:
• What are your specifications? Be very clear on the outputs you will require in the project. These should always be measured in terms of quality, quantity, time and cost. Use these output criteria to compare consultants.
• Who has recommended this consultant? Check their references – ask for the contact of the last job they did. When checking references, use your above “output criteria” as a guide.