In his excellent book, The Executive’s Guide to Consultants, David Fields emphasizes the importance of carefully defining the nature of a project requirement before hiring an external consultant.
In my experience, this is a vital – but often undertreated step in defining a project and establishing a collaborative relationship with a consultant.
Before hiring a consultant or launching a procurement process, it can be helpful to ask yourself whether your primary requirement is to hire a partner to provide:
- Capacity: Extra hands on deck
- Capability: Specialized expertise
- An External Perspective: An objective outsider with a track record in a particular discipline
This clarification of the primary nature of the requirement will help you define your need and find a partner who is well suited to hit the mark. An additional filtering process entails exploring the core competencies you need to hire, which may include:
- Diagnostic/decision support: Analyzing the problem and helping the organization come to a decision
- Planning: The development of a plan of action
- Implementation: Tactical execution
In practice, your project may entail a combination of requirements and core competencies, or all of the above. By taking the time to carefully scope out and define your needs and priorities, you are setting yourself up for success in finding a consulting partner with a strong fit for your unique requirements.