I am writing this article because I have heard too many horror stories from clients about prior consultants they hired. From the maniac consultant that would hurl curses and insults at employees to the invisible consultant that only appeared to present his invoices. Reliable veterans of the consulting industry all agree that businesses commonly fall into one of these five costly traps when hiring a consultant. Let’s see what they are, and how you can avoid them.
Trap 1: Selecting a Consultant Without Expertise
Knowing computers is one thing. Knowing the particular area of business teshnology needed to solve your business problems is quite another. The interaction of software, hardware, networks and operating systems has become so complex that a lot of times you know you have a problem but you don’t know in what part of your system the solution lays. All the more reason to take more time laying the groundwork with interviews. You need to find someone with the right set of skills to address your business problems. Also, your consultant will ideally have experience in your industry. Logically speaking, the solutions used in the pharmaceutical industry might not necessarily adapt well to the manufacturing. management
In addition to technical and industry expertise, a consultant will also be well versed in applicable laws and regulations governing your industry. From personal experience, we worked with a client who was violating several laws simply because their previous consultants were negligent. As quickly as technology evolves, so do the laws and regulations that govern multiple aspects of your industry. Make sure your consultant is knowledgeable on all areas related to your business.
Trap 2: Selecting a Consultant Without People Skills
Your computer consultant must have skills that go beyond the technical, into the realm of communications and training. In your interviews with consultants, find out which ones exhibit a real interest in solving the problems of your staff. Avoid the consultant who shows resentment at speaking with your staff. You’ll have problems down the road when they need technical assistance.
Consultants with an attitude can create havoc with your business. They will try to control how you run your business, or they will do something and not tell you what they have done. Then when something goes wrong you are forced to run them down and find them. The consultant is there to make your life better, not worse.
Trap 3: Letting the Consultant Take Control
Give specific instructions. Establish milestones with clearly stated goals. Develop metrics to measure success or failure. Follow these simple rules, and you will avoid a common trap: giving the consultant too much free rein. Unchecked, the consultant will likely develop a “solution” that only solves his cash flow problems.
The first step is to plan out what you need before interviewing consultants. Get the big picture. Then fill it in, one small job at a time. Many managers resist taking time out of their day to figure this out. When you understand what your problem is, you can better explain it to the consultant. Set out what you want in plain English. Say what you want to accomplish and let the consultant translate it into what the systems should do. Although something will be lost in the translation, your goal is to keep surprises to a minimum.