If you’ve decided it’s time to bring in a consultant, you’re taking an important step! Hiring a consultant can help you optimize performance, solve problems, improve efficiency, add expertise, and make other essential improvements to your operations. Here’s how to make the most of your consultant relationship and get the results you expect for your investment.
Step 1: Identifying Needs
Before you hire a consultant, identify the areas in which outside help will be appropriate and the specific type of outside help you need.
- Do you need help solving a discrete problem, overcoming a hurdle, or improving a specific process? If so, have you already identified the cause of the issue, or do you need help with that also?
- Do you need someone to simply analyze your issues and provide you with solutions that you will implement, or do you need a leader who will take the reins and guide you through implementation?
- Do you need a simple, straightforward solution, or do you need longer-term guidance to address broader issues?
- Do you need expertise in a specialized area like engineering, design, or marketing?
Whether you’re trying to improve the overall efficiency of your business, turn around a faltering company, or expand into new markets, identifying where and how you need to add resources and outside expertise is the first step. The more specific you can be about your needs, the greater your chances of finding a consultant that can get the results you want.
Step 2: Setting Goals
Once you’ve identified where you need help, your next step is to determine the results you want to see. Doing this before meeting with a consultant ensures that YOU stay in the driver’s seat and set yourself up for success. Knowing where you want to go—and making sure your consultant does, too— significantly improves the chances that you’ll reach your goals!
Consider using an ROI consulting agreement, which builds in clear goals and checkpoints throughout the duration of the project. This ensures you have regular communication with your consultants and gives you opportunities to talk about what strategies and actions are working and what needs to be adjusted to meet your project goals. It also helps you see, in black and white, what value your consultant is providing to your organization.
Step 3: Hiring the Right Consultant
Once you’ve identified your problems and goals, the final key step is hiring the right consultant. You need to make sure any consultant you hire is qualified to do the job AND that they’re a good fit for your organization. Ask for the resumes or CVs of the consultants who will be working on your project directly; if possible, meet them in person and introduce them to the team they will work with. Evaluate their backgrounds, specialties, and previous experience, and compare it with your organization’s needs and goals.
Notice whether the consultants’ questions are generic or more in-depth, revealing a clear understanding of your business and industry. Ask for references and recommendations from other clients who have engaged the consultants for similar projects or to remedy similar problems. In the end, trust your instincts about whether to work closely with these people for a significant period of time. You’re the expert at your business, and a consultant is there to help you succeed.
If you’re ready to find out how hiring a consultant can help your business blossom, contact Cornerstone Consulting Organization. We offer a wide range of consulting services in and around Huron, including operations consulting, ROI consulting, and engineering consulting. Our professionals have experience and knowledge in a wide range of industries and technical specialties, including automotive, heavy equipment, defense contracting, food manufacturing, aerospace, retail, and healthcare.