6 questions to ask before you hire a management consultant
Companies thrive when they generate fresh ideas. Sometimes, these come from people who have worked longest in the company, since they have seen the business in various stages.
Other times, though, you would need fresh eyes to look at your business. An outsider might highlight things that you do not see and provide a different perspective on your recurring issues.
Management consultants offer clarification by providing a way for companies to enrich their strategy and gain more professional input. Here are things you should consider when looking for the right consultant for you.
1 - What previous experience do they have?
When hiring consultants, it is helpful to check if there are case studies of their past work. Think of the team’s skills—are they a good fit for your project? Perhaps their skill set worked excellently for other companies, but that is not a 100 percent guarantee that it will work for yours. Striking a balance between track record and tailoring experiences is essential.
2 - What do you know about the delivery team?
Meet your partners before beginning. The consulting team’s senior members should understand your challenge in detail, and they must provide clearly outlined solutions to it. You could also make a tight brief, which would help them zero in on what to do. Also, since managers are not on the ground every day, you should meet the delivery team.
3 - Has your team met the consultants?
People often dismiss things like chemistry and work culture, but these are essential when working with consultants. You must ensure that your collaborators integrate well with your in-house team.
A consultant should be self-sufficient and able to exercise sound judgment without continually referring to you or your team. However, they should also know when they must seek help.
4 - Are you clear on the scope and outcomes?
Projects can be derailed due to scope creep, or the prioritizing of non-essentials. While it is always great to have bonuses, these should not detract from the quality of the main output. Prevent this by formally documenting briefs and workstreams.
Likewise, you must clarify the deliverables or project successes. These give you a way to gauge how much of the objectives the consultants achieved. However, do not fixate on these; the most important thing is still the product or the results. As a rule of thumb, you can ask two questions. First, “how are things different because of the project,” and “who noticed the difference?”
5 - Are you in contact with your consultants?
Communication is not just important at the start and end of a project. Often, clients leave everything to the consultants after the kick-off meeting, and the consulting team keeps their heads down and avoids engaging with the business any further.
Weekly touchpoints, at the minimum, are mandatory. These will help managers determine if the project is proceeding as it should, and it also allows teams to identify points for pivoting early in the process.
With regular check-ins, you can also conduct analyses with your team. As the project progresses, you can ask them what benefits or insights they have gained from the consultants. Doing this lets you decide if the organization should continue with the partnership.
6 - Do you give regular feedback to consultants?
A consulting project can take a toll on everyone involved, which is why feedback on achieved outcomes is necessary. Doing this can motivate your consulting team. Likewise, do not hold back on constructive feedback. It will help prevent issues you would rather avoid. A consultant is not going to be sensitive about your input, and would much rather hear what they could do better than not.
Getting a consulting team for your project has various benefits. However, you cannot just hire someone and check-in with them at the end of the project. As the client, you must strike a balance between communicating your needs and getting out of the consultant's way. Only then will you get the results that truly matter to your company.
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