Using external consultants in line with your strategic direction improves the quality of your decision making, the productivity of your teams and the profitability of your company.
Using a consultant properly means aligning their project objectives with the longer-term goals of your company. When investigating a market opportunity, for example, or looking to diversify, you need to make a thorough outline of all of the skills, resources and information needed to complete the task successfully. Many of these may be provided by you and others within your internal organization. However, you may also discover that your core competences will not provide you with the necessary skills or expertise to participate in these business opportunities.
You will benefit at this point by using consultants from a reputable consulting company with the skills to work with you to conduct feasibility studies, prepare your strategic plans, develop and execute specific projects to enable you to grow your business.
The following details will help you to establish the consultant criteria and qualifications necessary to accomplish your long-term goals and the strategic direction you want to take.
Consultant Skills, Talents and Expertise
Consultants’ levels of expertise, knowledge and experience will vary. The value they can bring to your company can be reduced if consultants are taken out of their specific areas of expertise. Determine:
o The consultant’s areas of expertise: Match those with what you want them to accomplish. Verify they have worked on similar projects within your industry. Choosing the right consultant will reduce costs and minimize potential risks. Asking consultants to work outside their areas of expertise will result in issues and project delays.
o The consultant’s knowledge of your industry: Has the consultant worked in your industry? Does the consultant know the current trends and emerging opportunities? Choosing a consultant who is up to date with events within your industry will improve the quality of your decision making and decrease the amount of time needed to achieve the outcomes you desire.
o The consultant’s ability to research your industry: Will the consultant provide a balanced and factual perspective based on actual research finding?
o The consultant’s capabilities: Ask for reports and other documented evidence that the consultant has completed assignments similar to your requirements. Verify that the projects were completed successfully, on time, and within budget.
Certain project deliverables may demand the consultant to have the relevant qualifications as well as the skills to manage and complete the project. Examples may include:
o Project management
o Quality management
o Financial Control
o Training and Development Needs Analysis
as well as business and functional qualifications such as:
o Marketing Management
o Manufacturing Management
o Materials Management
o Facilities Management
Consultants will normally provide references from previous assignments. Those references, however, may not include the client companies where the outcomes were less than successful. The input from those companies may prove invaluable in selecting the right consultant for your company. recruitment
If the consultant does not provide you with references, ask for them. If the work done for those clients matches your own requirements, those references can provide you with valuable information about the consultant’s work, management skills, people skills, attitude and so on.
Ask the reference if they were totally satisfied with the work and desired outcome of the assignment. If they were satisfied, find out why. If they were not satisfied, find out why. Check more than one or two references to gain a balanced perspective of the consultant’s skills and abilities.
Check with clients who have not been listed by the consultant. Take the time and effort to find and contact these clients. They may provide insights that were not provided by the more satisfied clients.
At ConsultantFORCE.com, companies and organizations can connect with qualified, dedicated consultants from every field and find the right consulting firm through ConsultantFORCE’s unique matching process.