Sometimes it’s easier to know what you don’t want in a consultant. Like the ones who say, “Implementation will be a breeze!” or “Don’t say anything else about requirements: I know everything I need to.” In the first case, they’re underestimating the work that needs to go into real, substantive change; in the latter, they’re making some wiggle room in case they mess up (“But you didn’t tell me that!”). But let’s turn to what you should look for in a consultant. The right fit can make a world of difference for your business.
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- Education, credentials, references
This is the equivalent of making sure the i’s are dotted and the t’s crossed. They are the price of admission into your organization. You need to know someone has the training and expertise necessary to help you face complex challenges. But this is only the start.
- Targeted experience
I don’t mean that the consultant has to have experience in your specific sector. That can be helpful, but in many cases, it is not a must. More important is to ask yourself, “What is the fundamental issue we’re trying to address?” You need to get someone with experience in that area.
- Broad experience
Look for experience in a cross-section of industries, types of organizations, and best practices. The scope of a consultant’s previous work allows him/her to draw from a much bigger “database,” as it were. This can mean the difference between finding a viable solution and floundering.
I mentioned fit earlier, and that is something you must consider as well. Is the person you’re inviting into your business going to be a help or a hindrance? Can you work with this person? Do you respect his/her opinion?
Will the consultant’s advice be sound? Will his/her processes and methodologies be effective? Will the tools used get results? Will the change planned be implemented? This depends on choosing the best consultant for your needs – and then putting your all into achieving results.