How To Evaluate A Consultant

Many organizations, businesses, and individuals find themselves in need of the services of a qualified consultant, or expert in some aspect. Unfortunately, more times than not, the selection process used is anything but the best one for their needs. It is important to beware of who might have recommended a specific consultant. Does the recommending party have the knowledge and/ or expertise to know what is really needed for you? Are you hiring a consultant because he is best suited for you, and best able to propel you to new heights, and greater accomplishments? Or, are you simply hiring a consultant of convenience? That is, someone that someone else knows or knows of, who may or may not be the right party for you.

1. Before hiring any consultant, fully explore what that Individual will do for you. What kind of guarantee will the individual offer you? For example, take the circumstance where an organization hires a consultant to assist it in locating an upper level employee who will have significant authority (such as an Executive Director, CEO, Chief Operating Officer, Director of Development, etc.). Will the consultant offer a guarantee that if the individual selected during a reasonable period of time (generally considered one to two years), the consultant will continue the search for a replacement at either no or a small fee? How can you assure that the consultant has no conflict of interest, and is not merely recommending someone who is either a friend, or someone who might prove beneficial to the consultant in the selected position?

2. What is the area of expertise for the consultant? Very few consultants are expert in multiple modalities, or at least not equally knowledgeable, experienced, or expert in all of them. Simply because a consultant has assisted in party or event planning, for example, does not mean they have what is needed to properly negotiate, plan and market an event as well as needed. This is another circumstance where a guarantee should be expected, that the consultant will at least save or get more for the group, at least as much as he charges as a fee, and usually by some multiplier or factor. When it comes to event planning, it is important to be sure that the consultant is not double dipping (getting a fee from you and paid also by either the venue or vendors).

Just because someone claims that they are a consultant, doesn’t either mean they are, or specifically that they are the one for you. Understand both your and their expectations, and assure that you protect yourself to make sure that you receive what you need and expect, as well as are paying for.