Keep an eye out for the following when it comes to consulting:
1) Just because they are a big name doesn’t make them right for you : yes, big name companies are well known for a reason-they also know they can charge extra because of their name and not necessarily because they can do the job better in every situation. Sure if you are doing a huge implementation across different countries, you would want to go with a large international firm. But if you are doing a smaller scale implementation, why not go with a smaller outfit with specific industry or functional expertise that will probably save you a little money? When it comes to your consulting firm, forget your ego and the bragging rights that come with using a big name firm—be smart
2) Beware the change-up: If you have ever experienced this trick, you already know what I am talking about. For those of you who are scratching your head right now, let me explain. The change-up happens when a consulting firm, usually larger ones, will send out a senior level consultant to pitch the work, and then all of a sudden on the day the project begins, you are looking at fresh-faced junior consultants who have been shipped out to do the work. Yes, we all start somewhere and it is understandable that these young professionals need to gain experience somehow…but wouldn’t you feel cheated at this point? Wouldn’t you have liked the opportunity to tell the firm how important this job is to you and that you would rather a senior consultant do the work, or at least lead the team of young associates? To avoid this situation all you need to do is ask one simple yet specific question, “who exactly will be doing the implementation?” and make sure you get a straight and specific answer.
3) Define your goals: Before the consultant walks in the door, know what you want your end result to be. Have clearly defined deliverables as well as targets and even due dates for your consultant? If you do not have a clear idea of a) your problem and b) your idea of what the solution should be then it gives your consultant the ability to come in and drive the process and tell you your problem and your solution…it may sound good, but is that what you really need? That does not mean close off your mind to alternative solutions; you did bring in outside help for a reason; but start with a foundation. Remain in control and grounded in reality throughout the process.
4) Pay attention: consultants, although they are technically outsiders, should not be thought of that way. They are temporarily a part of your team and they should be handled as such. Depending on the size of the company and the size of the project the amount of management will differ, but consultants should be managed on some level no matter the scope of the project. This does not mean you need to hire a full time person to keep up with the consulting work (although if your company often hires consultants this would not hurt) and it does not mean you need to be following them around the office either. The management could range anywhere from periodic progress reports to developing a project review board. The point is simple, make sure that as the project progresses, it is being done efficiently and aligns with the goals I spoke of earlier.
5) Let them do their job: Getting out of your own way can be an extremely difficult thing to do but when dealing with a consultant, get out of their way too! You brought in a consultant for a reason… Do not let a consultant come in and run the show; trust your instincts but, at the same time, remain open minded and be ready to accept ideas and constructive criticism.