On choosing a consultant
January 4, 2011
In an on-line discussion about guidelines for choosing a consultant, I suggested the following:
- Start with a statement of your problem, that is as specific as possible. But be clear that you’re stating the problem, and not your sense of what a solution might be.
- See how it feels to talk with your prospective consultant about that problem. Do their questions make you think, broaden your concept of how a solution might be found?
- Don’t attempt to get a free solution from those discussions. Actually with a good consultant, you will learn something in each encounter, but the goal is to test the working relationship and not to move towards solutions.
- Be very clear about fees, retainers, confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements, ownership of new intellectual property, etc. If you and your consultant have trouble with these, that’s a red flag.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for references, and to speak with them.
- The consultant must have the body of knowledge you require, feel like a comfortable partner, communicate his or her professionalism, and acknowledge your role in the consulting process.
- Agree on evaluation criteria at the start of the engagement. (e.g. “So, at the end of phase one, we’ll look forward to having a feature list for the product we’ll be building, and a detailed definition of the market segment to whom it will be directed.”)
- Enter into the consulting agreement only if you respect, trust, and look forward to working with this consultant.