September 12, 2019 14:47
Best tips to select an independent consultant
How your customers make their choice for subcontractors
Today, I'm going to put myself in the shoes of my prospects.
How is he going to make his final choice for a specific consultant with so many independent contractors in the market?
It may then be tempting to choose an independent advisor only by considering the pricing policy of the services he offers. However, putting too much emphasis on cost, a customer might end up commoditizing the process of outsourcing. So which criteria really establish the solid foundations of a strategic relationship?
Define Your Purpose
The Make or Buy decision is the cornerstone of the outsourcing industry and you need to figure the exact reasons why you want to work with a freelancer.
Independent consultancy reduces cost & increase human resources flexibility
This remains one of the main reasons why companies outsource. In times of economic uncertainty, it is understandable why businesses would avoid operating expenses. (CAPEX & OPEX).
Freelance contractor increases company business productivity
To understand how outsourcing increases business productivity, ask yourself, « how much time do I spend on this particular task? How long does it take for my team to find the solutions to this problem and implement them? » Now, imagine if you outsource all these steps. The time that you previously spent can now be repurposed to managing tasks that are directly related to your core business.
Consultants are experts. Learn to hire better than yourself
Steve Jobs used to say “A player hire A players; B players hire C players”, meaning that great people hire great people. Finding the right outsourcing partner is similar to finding the right employee for your company. You want to make sure you hire the best consultant for the job. When you outsource services, you have to be 100% sure the independent has the requisite skills, experience, and expertise to guarantee you high-quality performance.
Independent advisors embrace different vantage points
If you want to increase your success rate in the business, you are compelled to test in parallel different approaches and challenge the status quo. Why not injecting fresh blood within your company?
Share the same value as your outsourcing consultant
How consultant communicate with their customers
Does the consultant communication style match yours? How often does he use to contact you regarding the different milestones of your project? How well structured is the final report including all data? Be sure to be on the same page.
Is the consultant organization a one-person company?
Keep in mind if you are a small client at a large consulting provider like McKinsey, it can be difficult to get the attention you require. Large firms typically have mature processes that can be rigid and hard to modify. On the contrary, a small provider can rapidly feel overwhelmed with big player requirements in terms of communication, reporting, processes and quality standards.
Deal with consultant availability & flexibility
You may have found the perfect partner but if they don’t have a slot until next year and you need your outcomes this year, it’s not going to work. Some consultants use to work with prebooking and are going to ask you upfront fees before starting the project. Clarify this point.
Ask your consultant some referrals and testimonials
Find out what other customers think
Many independent consultants can provide case studies attesting to the benefits of their services, but it’s always better to go directly to the source.
If your consultant posts testimonials on his website, reach out to the companies in those testimonials. If they include a person’s full name, it’s even better since you’re not facing a potential false testimonial. I strongly advise to get a customer over the phone: they are usually more honest and will tell you the pros and the cons of working with that particular service provider.
Look at employee reviews
In case you're dealing with a large or mid-size consulting firm, you can tell a lot about this company by how it treats its employees. Like having a spy in the place, Indeed or Glassdoor can give you a great inside view of the company and how things are going there.
A consultant is a business partner.
When The Sea Is Calm, Every Boat Has A Good Captain
You will recognize a good partner in the way he anticipates but also solves issues. All service companies have experienced a crisis situation at some point. This is part of the game we play. Ask your independent advisor about its ROI, its back-up solutions but also how he handled the last problem he faced. If he can’t answer in a concrete way on this last question…run away.
A real tailored consultancy service
You need to be sure that your partner offers a personalized service. Of course, every player in the field is going to tell you he’s doing so. But believe me, there are customs and customs. And you do want the latter. Verify the point by asking questions of detail.
Consultants are more than just service providers
The end of the project is never the end of the performance. Ask details about the implementation, transfer and potential training when the consultant is going to leave. Are you sure to have everything in-house to run the entity without him?
Conclusion: Consultancy Outsourcing, Your Hedge Versus Uncertainty
While the shortest distance between 2 points is a straight line, the same can’t be said about the road to choosing the best service provider for your project.
Don’t forget the simple rules :
- there is no such thing as THE BEST SUPPLIER: each company has to find its own supplier, fitting its culture and requirements,
- be rigorous during the Qualifying process: use our checklist or use your own Request For Information (RFI) or Request For Proposal (RFP) documents if necessary
- learn to identify red flags: no website, a refusal to come to meet in person, no social media page, invalid business papers should put you a flea in the ear.
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