How to find a qualified consultant – that’s a subject many companies struggle to address. But help with determining how to find a qualified consultant may be hard to get. So, here at Consultant Journal, we’ve put together this article to help companies find the help they need.
What do you need from a qualified consultant?
To determine if a consultant is qualified to help you, you must identify your needs. Work out what you need from the consultant. Then determine what skills, knowledge or experience would help you meet your needs. Consider whether anyone in your existing organization can help – or whether you need to bring in an outside consultant.
Where can you find a qualified consultant?
Ask your colleagues, trade associations, professional associations and other contacts for referrals. Check out directories and the Web for listings. Your existing professional consultants, such as accountants and lawyers, may be able to make recommendations, too.
How do you choose a consultant?
Contact several consultants. Not all consultants are created equal. Some may specialize in your particular area – whether it’s a particular problem or industry. You’ll want to talk to the consultants – or at least exchange email messages. Ask about their fees. Early on, you probably should not expect a bid, since it takes time for the consultant to learn about you and your unique problems. But you should be able to get a feel for how they go about quoting on a project.
How do you verify that the consultant is qualified?
Ask the consultant to outline their experience, skills and education. Check references. You may even want to do a background check by calling their past employers or academic institutions. Depending on the consultant’s field, you may be able to request a portfolio or examples of past projects. Keep in mind that many consultants work under non-disclosure agreements, so you might have to speak with their past clients if you want details.
Next, discuss the project with the consultant. You’ll want to discuss your goals, milestones, price and time line. Observe the consultant’s response. Have they done this before? Do they seem to understand you and your problem? Do they listen to what you have to say? Can you see yourself working with them?
Choosing a consultant for the first time can be an involved process. But doing a little legwork in the beginning can save you time, effort and money later on.