How to Be a Good Client for a Consultant
A healthy and positive working relationship is as important to the consultant as it is to you the client. Before you outsource your project, you need to understand the effect you will have on the success or otherwise of the project. To understand that you must first appreciate what it means to outsource.
How to be a good client?
There are a number of ways in which you can take a lead role in providing direction and support to both your external consultants and your permanent staff. To make this responsibility as straight forward as possible, take the time to:
- Define clearly the scope of the project and the deliverables you expect the consultant to accomplish.
- Align the scope of your project with your strategic plan. Is this the most cost effective solution? If not, re-consider your decision before committing valuable resources.
- Consider using a reputable consulting company to help you determine which direction you should take and what solution(s) will help you to meet your strategic objectives. You will save time, effort and money in the long run.
- Consider using the same consulting company to match your project requirements with the best consultants for the assignment. Unless you have external consultants who you use or have used previously, getting assistance at this stage can minimize any risk that may be associated with outsourcing. The better consulting companies will also screen the consultants, manage the whole verification and pre-selection process for you, and provide the means by which consultants can submit their proposals to you.
- Decide which consultant is the best fit for your company taking into account all aspects of the proposal such as qualifications, references, track record, pricing, and how the project will be managed including timelines, milestones and key measures of success.
You are now ready to continue your lead role and manage the project at the strategic level.
Your permanent staff will support you and the consultants when you have made the effort to explain the reasons why external resources have been chosen to complete this important project. Explain who has been chosen, why they have been chosen and what they will accomplish.
As well as communicating with your permanent staff, make sure the consultants:
- Are aware of the sensitivity of the situation.
- Are fully conversant with company policies and procedures.
- Understand the precise terms and conditions of the project.
- Know that you will meet the company’s commitments as outlined in the agreement including resources and payment schedules. recruitment
- How to report progress and how often.
- Know how and to whom they should communicate if and when issues arise.
You are still the primary link between the consultants and your permanent staff, until the project is fully underway. Monitor the early stages as your permanent staff and consultants integrate and form their working relationships. Intervene only if and when necessary.
Provide every resource needed to enable the consultant to perform to the best of his or her ability. More often than not, consultants will over-deliver and exceed your expectations, helping to build a strong working relationship. Support your consultants and your permanent staff throughout the project and both will regard you as a good employer. Make sure consultant invoices are paid according to payment schedules to ensure service continuity.