Finding the Perfect Consultant

Hiring a consultant is a big step for any organization. After all they’re not just a vendor, but someone who will partner with you to help you complete a project, and may be around even longer if you need ongoing support. That’s why it is so important that you choose the right person with the appropriate skill set on the first try.

Your first step is to define your project, determine what your needs are and what you want to accomplish. Next you should locate several consultants who may be a good fit. You can find them by searching the web, looking in industry publications, or online directories such as asaecenter.org, or snpo.org/directory/index. Many cities have a fair share of consultants to choose from, so the natural next step is to find out if they can help you with your specific requirements. If you are planning a large or complex project, it can be a good idea to send out a request for proposal or RFP to communicate what your needs and goals are and to detail the kind of expertise you require. An RFP should include:

  • The kind of expertise you’re seeking.
  • The expected start and end date for your project.
  • The scope of services you require.
  • A request for credentials and qualifications.
  • Information on how you would like the consultant to respond.

Once you have narrowed your list of consultants, some qualities to look for include:

  • Expertise that matches your needs.
  • Their personality fits with the culture of your organization.
  • They should be knowledgeable and energetic. You want someone who will finish the job they start.
  • They should have the ability and fortitude to communicate with your organization’s decision makers in such a way as to convey the important steps and items necessary to complete the project.

Additionally, you should ask yourself these questions…

  • Is the consultant someone who can help you better define and organize your project?
  • Can they be trusted with confidential information?
  • Can they deliver what you need within your budget?
  • Do they seem interested in your mission and goals?

Once the consultant has been selected and the project begins, it is important to hold up your end of the partnership. It takes effort from both sides to complete a project – so don’t expect the consultant to bear all the weight. Some things you can do to ensure you are doing your part include:

  • Having a continued stake and presence throughout the project’s implementation;
  • Defining and communicating your budget;
  • Making the consultant feel welcome and up to speed – giving them any background information they need in a timely manner;
  • Being responsive;
  • And paying on time.

Source article: Secrets to Finding the Perfect Consultant, snpo.org.