Did we miss something? Below are the questions many of our clients struggle with prior to bringing on a consultant. We hope our answers help you evaluate your situation and options – if not, let us know what questions we missed: Ask a Question.
What kind of consultant do I need?
Answer: By now you’ve likely identified one or more key areas you would like to improve in your organization. Assess your situation further by listing out your needs, and compare that list to your in-house resources, expertise and talent. Where are the gaps? Look for a consultant whose talents and expertise fill the gaps you’ve identified. See our Areas of Expertise.
Do I need a workforce specialist?
Answer: Working with a workforce consultant that is certified, holds a specialty designation, or is committed to the field has many benefits, the most important being credibility. Considering your goals, how important is it that the consultant you hire understand the ins and outs of your field? Will the consultant be interacting with outside partners, board members or staff? If so, a general consultant without field-specific knowledge might not get you the results you are looking for. On the other hand, if your issues are not workforce related (even if you are in the workforce development field), a workforce specialist might not be necessary.
Should I interview several consultants?
Answer: Why not? Unless you are strapped for time, interviewing two or more consultants will improve your confidence in your choice and start the relationship off on the right foot.
Should I check the consultant’s references before hiring?
Answer: Absolutely. The best way to obtain a reference is to ask the consultant for a name of a client with whom the consultant did similar work.
How much should I pay for a consultant?
Answer: What is your own time worth? Consultants are in business to earn a living just as you are, and to a consultant, any time not spent conducting business is a loss. Ask the consultant about their rates, and be prepared to pay top dollar for the best talent. Network with peers in similar size organizations to find out what they pay consultants. If a return on investment is critical, consider asking the consultant to work out a contingency deal based on results.
Does the consultant have to be local?
Answer: Not necessarily. Many organizations enjoy a tremendous relationship working with consultants who are located across the country. Much of the business may be handled online or through conference calls with personal visits arranged as needed. Just because a consultant is close by, doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she will be the right fit. First and foremost, look for a consultant with a deep understanding of your issues. If your primary need is someone who can assert influence in your local community, then a local consultant might be your best option.
Questions for You
Have you done your homework? It takes due diligence to ensure you get the most out of contracting with a consultant. What areas are not running as efficiently as possible? Have you carefully written out your strategic plan for the next three to five years? (See Strategic Planning Services.) What is it going to take to realize your goals?
Can you educate someone internally to handle the responsibilities?
Consider this: Life-long learning is great for you and your team. You may not need a consultant if it is a viable option to train someone within the organization to handle the matter internally.
- Can you identify someone with the time, capacity and energy needed?
- Is training available, affordable and acquirable in a timely manner?
- Will the time and resources spent on training be considerably more or less than it would be to hire a consultant?
Incidentally, if this doesn’t sound like a practical option to you now, you might consider hiring a consultant to help identify areas where your organization could benefit from developing its staff further, and outline growth plans for the future. (See Staff Development Services.)
Who will be the liaison to the consultant?
Consider this: In working with a consultant, someone within your organization should be appointed as the person responsible for working directly with the consultant or firm. This should be someone with the authority to prioritize organizational needs and the ability to implement changes. Consider the chaos if several staff personnel were to ask the consultant questions or assign work without anyone prioritizing. You’ll end up with confusion and unproductive time.
Your first conversation with a prospective consultant should help you answer these questions:
- Does this consultant’s values match those of your organization?
- Does this consultant really listen?
- Will this consultant take the time to understand your organization?
- How will my staff and others involved react to this person?
Above are just a few questions for your consideration. If you’d like to discuss how Workforce Matters can meet your needs – contact Dazzie McKelvy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512.924.7761.