Choosing a Consultant

Choosing a Consultant

Choosing a consultant is a daunting task. If you make a wrong choice you might get yourself into big trouble. To help you avoid this we have covered a few main points you should consider before hiring a consultant.

What is a consultant?

A consultant can be an individual, or sometimes even entire organization consisting of consultants, that have experience and in depth knowledge in certain area and can assist you in whatever issue you might have. The consultant’s role can be very versatile and it might include different services. Here are some of them.

To offer you their knowledge on a certain topic

  • It can be a theoretical knowledge that the consultant gained though their specialized studies.
  • It can be practical knowledge that the consultant gained through personal experience.
  • It can be knowledge in a certain industry that the consultant was able to gain first hand.
  • It can be knowledge gained from applying specific method.
  • It can be a combination of new ideas coming from practice or theory, or even both.

To offer you knowledge of a certain process

  • If you need someone to help you asses the community or some organization, help you with some assets, needs or your preferences.
  • Assist you in strategic planning.
  • Create a plan for a certain intervention or initiative.
  • To help you implement that plan.
  • Help you start an organization.
  • Help you develop that organization.
  • To help you manage your staff and teach you how to cope with different people.

To offer you their knowledge in a certain area

  • Business, negotiation and official interaction.
  • Writing grants.
  • Facilitation of meetings.
  • PR related matters and community relations.
  • Evaluation of work and comparison with some given standards.
  • Knowledge and training for developing your professional or technical skills.

To offer you objectivity as sometimes it is better when someone can help you see things from a different perspective.

Why do you need to hire a consultant?

  • When you have a problem and you are not able to solve it on your own. If you have tried to find a solution so many times but each time you’ve failed, maybe it is time to look for someone that has different approach and might be able to offer you the expertise and knowledge you lack.
  • When you need someone to facilitate a process you are not sure how to handle. Sometimes certain processes require skills you don’t have. Once you recognize this issue it is better not to waste time and hire someone that can enable smooth development of the process.
  • When you lack knowledge on a certain topic. You have to accept that there will be things you won’t be familiar with. This is when you need to hire someone who has in depth knowledge on the topic and can help you understand things that are unfamiliar for you.
  • When you need a set of skills you or your staff members don’t have. Some tasks can be new both for you and your team and you will need to hire a consultant that has the specific set of skills and can help you get the job done.
  • When you have unusual task you are not sure how to complete. This might refer to a one-time event for which you have limited time and you need someone to help you take care of everything.
  • When you have a difficult situation and you need someone to mediate to solve the problem. It can refer to any type of conflict between you and the people working with you, or with someone outside of your company / organization.
  • When you need someone who can see things from a different perspective. Very often it is difficult to distance yourself from the work which prevents you to see things clearly. A fresh view point can make a big difference.

In which situations do you need to hire a consultant?

The right answer to this would be that you should hire a consultant whenever you need help. Here are a few examples for it.

  • When you are planning to start something new. It can be a completely new business or just developing a new area in your current business.
  • When you are transitioning from one business into another or from one stage to another. If you are changing your business or developing it, you might need someone that has experience.
  • When you encounter a problem you are not sure how to solve. Even if you know how to solve the problem but it is time consuming for you, it might be a good idea to hire additional help.
  • When you have to implement a new idea or new plan but you are not sure how to do it. Some consultants specialize in planning and organizational structures and they can be of great help in times when you are getting ready for a change.
  • When you don’t have capacity to respond to the needs of your project. If you need help with your taxes, planning an event or similar tasks your company doesn’t usually have you should hire someone to do the work for you or show you how to do it.
  • When you need a person that can evaluate the situation without being bias or simply take care of something you don’t have enough time to do.

Who can act as a consultant?

  • A professional consultant that offers consulting services.
  • Academics or researchers that have the skills and knowledge you lack.
  • People who work in the same industry or have worked before.
  • Former public officials who have been part of the industry you are interested in.
  • People that have specific skills you usually don’t need on on-going bases.
  • People who can be affected by your problem.
  • People who have understanding of the current situation and can help you manage things better.

How can you choose the right consultant?

Before you hire someone you need to make sure you have the right person for the job. Here are some things you need to consider before making your final decision.

  • Analyze the things you believe you need help for and decide whether it is something you can do on your own or you need to ask for additional help.
  • Define the scope of your project and identify the areas you need help.
  • Determine the skills that the consultant should have. What knowledge and experience do they need to have to be able to tackle the problem successfully?
  • Think about the personality that will fit best in your organization and what kind of energy should this person bring to your business.
  • Decide on the budget you have available and how much you can afford to pay for the extra help.
  • Start a search for the right candidate.
  • Screen the applications you have received, shortlist the good candidates, interview them and make your final choice. Make sure you make in depth analysis and carefully examine each potential candidate. If you make a mistake now, it might cost you a lot later.
  • Once you hire the consultant don’t think that your task is done. You have to always monitor the consultant’s work to ensure they are doing a good job. This will allow you to spot problems in their early stage and be able to find appropriate solution.

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