What are your top tips for using consultants?

Benjamin P. Taylor
3 min readFeb 8, 2023

Join the discussion on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/antlerboy_consultants-projectmanagement-innovation-activity-7029005980143132673-edll What are your top tips for using consultants?

Whether it’s for project management, innovation, implementation of technology, or management development, most organisations procure and manage consultants ‘sub-optimally’.

As a consultant of nearly 20 years’ experience, here are my tips:

· If tendering, share your full budget (less, say, 15% contingency) — the one you estimated as right for the task and got cleared to spend. Don’t make consultants compete on price, make them compete on value.

· Share all the relevant information you can, including your organisational data (not just fluffy vision statements etc) — you’ll get better bids if people know what they might be working with.

· Engage in conversation throughout the process.

· Make payments simple but by results, and expect to pay out that 15% when you change your mind or timeline.

Ask these questions of the team presenting — and probe — sorry, consultants are good at bullsh*t:

· How can you guarantee that these individuals presenting will be the delivery team? (Remember, you’re interviewing individuals and a team, not a business)

· How will you ensure we share responsibility for this work during the project?

· What’s your average sell-on, upsell, and cross-sell on a piece of work? (Ask for an actual figure)

· What is the nature of that sell-on work? (You want consultants who stick around to deliver, not ones who ‘land and expand’)

· Where will the expertise sit at the end of this engagement?
(Will it be with the consultants, with you the client, with an internal consulting team, or in all the employees affected?)

· Why is this project important to you personally? What will you lose if it doesnt go well for me?

· How long have you worked together as a team? What will happen if one of you is unwell? Can you look me in the eye and tell me you’re not planning to move companies during the timescale of this project?

· When I call them, what will your previous clients say was the most disappointing thing about working with you?

And ask the consultants:

· How have you made your approach specific to this project and this organisational / sector context? (Look for real understanding)

· What targets do you need to meet in the company? How does this project support or get in the way of these?

· What helps you to boost your career? How can this project be helpful to that?

· How will you help me to manage the context around this project to help make it a success?

· How will you gather the information needed and help the team and the wider organisation be committed to the success of this project?

· What might you discover which would let you know our hypothesis for this project is a bad idea? What would you do about it?

· What could I do that would really p*ss you off and make me your worst client ever?

What do you think? What would you ask consultants? What do you ask consultants?

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