Saturday, August 4, 2007

10 Questions to Ask a Consultant BEFORE You Hire Them

Finding one isn't that difficult, however, finding one that fits you and your company is another story...

One of the reasons the task can be so difficult is the diversity of consultants' backgrounds and their methods. Just some of the areas in which consultants can differ are educational background, number of years experience, types of industries served, information provided to you and its timing, costs for fees and travel expenses, and personality.

While all the above are important, I list personality for a reason. No matter how qualified a consultant's glorious resume appears, if you cannot work closely with them, and feel comfortable relying upon their advice, you won't receive the benefits of seeking outside advice in the first place.

Before you decide to hire a consultant, prepare your list of questions to learn as much as possible about your potential hire before taking the plunge. This list will vary depending on your specific needs and goals, however, the following is a guide that can be used until you have developed your own questions.

1. Does your web site cover your background and methods?
2. What makes your firm ideally suited for this project?
3. What differs in your approach from your competition?
4. How will you keep me informed and keep yourself on target?
5. If selected, when could you begin? When will you complete the project?
6. How much will it cost in fees? Travel expenses?
7. What results can I expect?
8. What kind of support do you provide after the the project is completed? How long?
9. Do you offer a guarantee or warranty of your services?
10. Specifically, who will be involved in the project? May I see their resumes? Who will supervise them?

In addition, there are questions you should be asking yourself.
1. Does this firm's values match those of my company?
2. Do I feel comfortable accepting advice from this person?
3. Does this consultant really listen?
4. How will my staff react to this person?
5. Were the verbal answer I received in line with their web site presentation?

So, what is the key to finding the right firm for you? Their web site is a good place to start since often the site's appearance is a reflection of the firm's personality, professionalism, and approach to a client's needs. Just look for the firm and the person with whom you are the most comfortable.

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