How To Find the Right Consultant

As companies grow, so does the list of things that need to get done – and at some point things that ought to get done don’t get done because either time or expertise are in short supply.  When critical items languish at the bottom of the list for too long, business suffers.  Ideally, either the payroll grows or a consultant helps out before things go sour.

Many consultants will be happy to do the work – but picking the right one out the bunch requires some planning and foresight.  The journalist’s “What-When-Which-Where-How” approach to story reporting is a good place to start:

  1. What needs to get done?
    1. Is critical information lacking?
    2. Is there too much data, but too little useful information?
    3. Does conflicting data have to be reconciled?
    4. Does the business need a new way of looking at things?
  2. When does it need to get done?
    1. One time only
    2. Periodically (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.)
  3. Which skills or types of experience are required?
    1. Business analytics
    2. Industry experience
    3. Data skills
    4. IT skills
    5. Beginner vs. Expert skills
  4. Where should the consultant be located?
    1. Are face to face meetings required?
    2. Can the work be done remotely?
    3. Is access to company data/IT resources required?
  5. How should the work be done?
    1. How much team interaction is needed?
    2. Who should manage the project?
    3. Can work results be transmitted electronically?
    4. What types of presentations and reports are required?

Each situation has its own idiosyncrasies, of course, and this list can be modified and expanded as needed.

Relationships Rule!

Earlier we said that this list is only a starting point because the secret ingredient to success is the relationship between consultant and client.  If client and consultant cannot get along, the project sits on shaky ground – no matter how proficient, competent and talented everyone is.

The bottom line:

the Right Expertise + the Right Relationship = Success.

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