The Truth about Consultants
As e-commerce and the online community grow larger, so does the need for IT consultants, business strategists, management consultants, and restructuring experts.
Even a company with the most specific goals can lack the ability to achieve those goals in house, but if you have the insight (and fortitude!) to admit it, you will find that one of the greatest challenges is finding the right consultant. Determining the type of consultant that best fits the needs of your new plan or project may well be the key to achieving success. Is there an effective formula for choosing a consultant who can drive the plan home rather than driving it into the ground? YES!
- Define your goals clearly.
- Determine if a consultant is truly needed. Does your current staff have a clear understanding of your needs and the capabilities required to meet them? Are staffers being properly used or are their technical skills in a holding pattern, waiting for a less busy day?
- Decide to hire a consultant, determine what type of consultant will best suit your needs. If your goals are clear, but a plan of attack is not, your best bet is a strategy consultant.
If e-business is where you’re headed, contact a firm or a consultant who specializes in e-business technology.
If you are having difficulty defining goals and have no idea where to start and no time to get started, select a management consultant who can walk you through every aspect step-by-step without disrupting the core of your current strategy or your staff.
If your plan is to restructure your entire business, you’ll need an organization consultant.
- Research! Research! Research! Locate company evaluations and seek recommendations from trusted sources.
- Meet personally with individuals and firms. Don’t risk a personality conflict by blindly selecting your new partner. Select someone with whom you can speak easily and openly. Select someone who can fully explain the benefits of his or her service.
- Outline realistic goals on a realistic timeline that you and the consultant both agree on and put in writing. Arrange to have a contract drawn up that defines your expectations. Be sure to include a payment schedule that is based on deliverables. Set a completion date.
Openly discuss your plans with your staff so that they are not alienated in the process and appoint one individual with whom the consultant may communicate directly. Don’t be afraid to request scheduled updates, on-site visits, or even a weekly or monthly phone conference, depending on the size and scope of the project. Be prepared to pay for quality work and experience. Finally, keep in mind that a big name firm doesn’t necessarily guarantee you big results. After all, experts constructed the Titanic, but amateurs with a vision built the Ark.