The DOs and DON’Ts in consulting

office table for business meetings

Every company is familiar with the acquisition of services from external service providers and the transactions of ordering, agreeing and buying them are routine. It is indeed easy to describe what kind of site do you want and how are you going to use it for your business activities, so the rest lays to the IT expert. However, things start changing when the sought service is closely related to activities already existing within the company. Let’s imagine, for instance, that you are thinking of assigning to a consultant the project of strategic business analysis for the market you are currently participating, and for your company as a supplier. Are you adequately prepared for this or should you face confusions, drawbacks and a final dissatisfaction with the results obtained?

There are several DOs and DON’Ts we want to share with you, in order to prepare your organization and obtain the best achievable result for the money you are about to spent.

THE DOs

1. Clarify the real reasons you want to utilize a consultant and the real work you will ask him to provide.
2. Verify that within the organization you do not have the necessary professional who will be able to do the job.
3. If you have such employee but you don’t want to assign him the project, clarify the reason why.
4. Make sure that you have a clear decision on whether you will assign the project exclusively to the consultant, or if you will also participate in its implementation.
5. Verify the type of the project, i.e. if it will be a one-off or repeated, i.e. periodical
6. Consider the possibility of assigning a one-off project that will also include on-the-job training for your personnel members.
7. Verify that you are willing and prepared to trust your consultant and supply him with the fundamental data and information, necessary for him to do the job.
8. Wright down every issue that will influence your decision and be prepared to discuss them in an open manner with your consultant.
9. Shape a group of company employees and a team leader, who will communicate directly with your consultant.
10. Ask copies of a draft contract and a Confidentiality Agreement, read them thoroughly and ask for clarifications and/or supplementary terms.
11. Discuss thoroughly with your consultant your needs and requirements, the project content, the terms and conditions of the contract and everything else that will make you feel comfortable with the assignment.
12. Ask your consultant to prepare a quotation for the project you have mutually discussed.
13. Review his technical and economical proposal and discuss with him every detail.
14. Together with your partner(s), shareholders or CEOs, decide the GO or NO-GO.
15. Prepare a written assignment and proceed with a contract.

 

A relationship with a consultant or a consulting company should be regarded as an integrated investment through which you expect immediate tangible results and intangible benefits, as well as mid-term intangible results and added value(s). Under certain circumstances, you could also quantify the expected results and conclude with an ROI (Return On Investment) for the money spent.

THE DON’Ts

1. Don’t imitate your competitors. Use consulting service because you are persuaded that it is what you really need, not because your competitors did so.
2. If you are not sure about the necessity of a consultant, don’t proceed.
3. If you doubt about using a consultant or another type of external service, don’t proceed before having thoroughly discussed the issue with your partner(s), shareholders of CEOs.
4. Don’t let your CEO’s to decrease or distort the real advantages derived through consulting.
5. If your CEO’s are strongly opposing the utilization of a consultant, do not proceed unless you have first resolved the conflict in any form (positive or negative)
6. Don’t accept your CEO’s negation without asking his/their justification. Ask them what they can offer instead.
7. If your organization as a whole is so conservative that denies the necessity for a consulting service, don’t proceed. You might, probably, need an external advisor who will resolve the problem of conservatism first.
8. Don’t ‘’filter’’ your needs and requirements when discussing the project with your consultant.
9. If you have extremely confidential issues that cannot trust to your consultant, don’t proceed with him. You should, first, find someone you can really trust.
10. Don’t place excessive and big tasks if you have limited financial resources. Try to obtain a preliminary indication of the estimated cost, before finalizing the content of the project.
11. Don’t place tight deadlines for a project. If you have reasons to do so, keep in mind that meeting tight deadlines will require additional human resources on behalf of your consultant, hence you will be asked for a higher fee.
12. Don’t leave your consultant without a contact person or team during the project. If you have no such persons available, be you the contact person and be available to him.
13. Don’t accept only verbal feedback on the progress of your project. Responsible consulting always delivers intermediate reports.
14. Don’t forget to ask your personnel members for their feedback and impressions on the progress of your project.
15. Don’t mask your comments on the intermediate reports and conclusions submitted by your consultant. Express them thoroughly and don’t keep them for the final phase. Your feedback will facilitate his improving in matching your requirements.