How to Pick a Consultant - 8 Questions
There are many consultants in the industry, so how do you go about selecting the one that is right for you and your organization. Choosing well allows a less stressful engagement and a successful outcome. Here are some insights from Kerriee Hall, Solutions Sales/Customer Adviser, here at A&S Elite Consulting.
Below is a checklist of Eight Questions to ask a prospective consultant. The checklist is based on 28 years of experience working in the mortgage technology space. Over the years, I have worked with many consultants in varied capacities. With so many to choose from, it can be hard to decide the right fit for your organization. Below is my checklist of questions that has served me well over the years-
Consultant Checklist – Eight Questions:
1. Does the Consultant understand your business today and your business or strategic plans for the future?
Does the Consultant have a good understanding of the mortgage industry and mortgage lending technology?
Will this Consultant know how to help you in the future when you upgrade your existing platform(s) or when you select a new platform(s) to fit your technology roadmap?
2. Does the consulting company and its employees have the right experience for the job?
Ask for a Bio and/or Resume for the Owners/President of the company. Make sure business philosophy, goals, and experience match the direction of you and your business.
Research the company and team members on LinkedIn or other Social Media sites.
Ask peer companies who they may have used for similar engagements.
3. Ask to meet the Consultant you will be working with on your project. Many companies do not introduce the Consultant who will be assigned the job until after you sign the contract.
Meet and vet the person who will work with you and your team. Determine that the Consultant who will be working with your organization is a match with your staff. Having the right personality match and “chemistry” is a critical part of the success of the overall project.
Sometimes meeting the person that will be assigned to work on your project is not possible. In this case, ask the Consulting company what their process is to make a change if the assigned person is not a fit for your company.
4. Confirm action plans before signing an agreement and/or SOW with a consulting company. Either option listed below may be acceptable to meet your needs. Know ahead of time what the deliverables are and get them in writing.
What level of system access will the Consultant require to do the work for you?
Confirm providing access to your systems is acceptable with your internal teams (IT Department).
If the Consultant is doing the work, will the Consultant provide knowledge sharing to empower your team to know how to manage tasks going forward?
Create an exit plan to remove access given to the Consultant after the engagement is finished.
Is the Consultant able to evaluate and identify the necessary work and report their findings? Will instructions be given for your staff to do the tasks?
Is the evaluation being documented with a list of findings and recommendations?
Will the assessment provide instructions to complete the recommended tasks? Is there an additional charge for instructions to complete the tasks recommended?
If your team is doing the tasks, will the Consultant review their work to make sure it is done correctly and/or completed? Is there an additional charge for this service?
5. Will the Consultant train you and your team to manage the job after they are gone?
Is training included in your proposal, or will this be an add-on engagement?
Are there any built-in dependencies on the Consultant that will require an ongoing agreement?
6. Does the Consultant have reputable references to speak with before signing an agreement?
Obtain references from the Consultant and follow up with the references before signing an Agreement.
Identify and speak to others that can reference the Consultant’s work. Look at LinkedIn Contacts, and if you have mutual contacts, reach out to these people for a reference.
7. Is the price right; what are the details?
How does the consultant bill? (Fixed contract, Hourly, Half Hour, Quarter Hour)
Identify if there is a minimum billing requirement and/or term of the engagement
How are pricing increases communicated and documented?
Is payment due when starting the engagement? Throughout the engagement? Upon completion?
Is billing done monthly, weekly?
Is the invoice due upon receipt, 15 or 30 days?
Are there any discounts available? Will there be discounts for future projects?
7. How quickly can the Consultant get started? How long do they estimate the duration of the work?
Doing the due diligence upfront and asking the hard questions will make for a successful consulting relationship. Be careful about selection purely on the lowest price. A more experienced consultant may charge a higher rate but able to be more efficient in delivering on desired results. In the technology space, if the Consultant is part of a knowledge consulting team, generally better solutions are provided and implemented as it comes from the collective experience of the group.
I hope you find this helpful and insightful in navigating the process of picking the right Consultant for your company. If you are looking for assistance on your projects put A&S Elite to the test with this checklist. Everyone at A&S Elite welcomes the opportunity to be your partner!