Hiring a consultant with Brefi Group
The Institute of
Management Consultancy has produced some guidelines for this
purpose. These “ten golden rules” are not prescriptive,
but they should guide you towards making the most informed decisions
resulting in successful completion of the project.
1. Clearly define the objectives that you hope to achieve.
- Describe the job you want done and specify the things you expect
from the assignment.
- Understand precisely how you expect your business will benefit
from the work.
- Decide on the timescale, scope and any constraints on the assignment.
- Clarify your own role, which key staff will be involved, and
how their time will be made available.
2. Consult with others in your organisation to agree those objectives.
- Consult with appropriate fellow directors and managers on the
nature of the problem.
- Jointly define your specific needs for the expertise you want.
Is it a systems, human or skills problem?
- You may decide that you require regular "hand holding"
discussions or counselling sessions with the management consultant
rather than a defined assignment. Many clients obtain considerable
value from scheduling assistance in this way – but make
sure you still have a written fee quote and terms of reference.
3. Short-list no more than three consultants, and ask them to
provide written proposals.
- Make sure you only ask consultants to quote for the work who
are qualified to carry it out.
- Potential consultants will be happy to send you basic information
about themselves and talk with you about your needs, without charge.
Invite consultancies to submit written proposals, which should
- Their understanding of the problem
- The brief
- Names and CVs of the consultant(s) who will do the work
- Experience of the firm
- Other support provided by the firm
- Work plan and timeshare – Reports and/or systems that
will be supplied to you
- Fees, expenses and schedules of payment
- The inputs required from you
4. Brief the consultants properly.
- Prepare a concise brief which clearly defines the objectives,
scope, timescale, reporting procedure and constraints of the project
and agree it with others in your organisation who will have an
influence on the outcome of the project.
- Remember that the cheapest quote will not necessarily give
the best value for money and the fees of your preferred consultant(s)
may be negotiable.
5. See the individual consultant who will do the job and make
sure that the 'chemistry' is right.
- Successful consultancy requires goodwill in human communications.
Meet the consultants who will be doing the job and brief them
well, using the written brief and any background information that
you or they think necessary.
- Talk through your chosen proposal with the consultant before
making a final decision to ensure that you have any concerns answered.
If you are not happy with any aspects of the proposal do not feel
pressured into accepting them. Continue discussions with the consultant
until full agreement on the proposal can be reached.
- Select the firm or individual that you feel has the best qualifications
and experience and who you feel you can work with comfortably.
6. Ask for references from the chosen consultant(s) and follow
- Ask the firm or individual chosen for names or written references
from former clients in order to verify the consultants' suitability
for the assignment.
7. Review and agree a written contract before the assignment starts.
8. Be involved and in touch during the assignment.
- Using consultants effectively demands a commitment of time
as well as money by clients.
- Remember that you must keep in touch with the progress of the
assignment if you are to get the most from it. Consultants are
likely to be most cost-effective when working to an agreed programme
and timescale. Make sure there are regular progress meetings and
that the consultant keeps you fully briefed on progress against
- To implement the recommendations it is often most cost effective
to involve the consultant(s) together with your management.
- If you and your staff need to provide input, make sure that
you do it within the agreed timescale. Extra costs may be incurred
if you hold up the progress of the assignment. Consultancy requires
an investment not only in fees but also in client time.
- Assignments are usually most effective when the work is done
on the client's premises. Make sure you can provide suitable office
space and administrative support for the consultants.
- You should aim to involve your staff in the assignment as early
as possible so that they partly "own" the recommendations
and have an interest in the results.
- Assignments are often most effective when run by a joint team
of consultants and staff and when the contents of the consultant's
report are agreed with the staff at a progress meeting.
9. Ensure that the consultant does not save surprises for the
- The consultant's report is often his or her most tangible 'deliverable';
but it must be in a format which is beneficial to you. If necessary,
ask the consultant to produce a draft report so that you can discuss
findings and recommendations with some of your colleagues before
the final report is produced.
- The final report should contain no surprises. If there are
very confidential or contentious issues, ask for these to be put
into a private letter rather than in the report itself. Make sure
the report is written in a way you and your staff can understand
and use. Tell the consultant if you are not happy with it.
- Ask the consultant to make a presentation to you and your colleagues,
if this will help discussion on its conclusions.
- You should note, however, that some assignments will not result
in a written report. If this is the case, make sure you understand
what the deliverable will be before the assignment starts.
10. Implement the recommendations and involve your management
as well as the consultant.
- You may need to make arrangements for the management consultant
to help with the implementation. This can be done cost-effectively
by involving the consultant in regular progress meetings. Get
a written fee quotation and proposal for any implementation work,
even if it follows directly from an assignment.
Consultants need three skills to do a good job: -
Technical skills – the foundation of consulting
skills is some expertise in a specific discipline
- Project management
- Personnel/Human resources
- Systems analysis
Interpersonal skills – necessary in all
- Management style
- Group process
Consulting skills – requirements of each
- Negotiating wants
- Coping with mixed motivation
- Dealing with concerns about exposure and the loss of control
- Doing triangular and rectangular contracting
- Surfacing layers of anaylysis
- Dealing with political climate
- Resisting the urge for complete data
- Seeing the interview as an intervention
- Funneling data
- Identifying and working with different forms of resistance
- Presenting personal and organisational data
- Running group meetings
- Focusing on here and now choices
- Not taking it personally
Brefi Group consultants are trained to apply these skills using
the powerful change processes of NeuroLinguistic Programming. In
addition, we have facilitative, coaching and training skills to
support a comprehensive organisational change process.
What to do next
Selecting a suitable consultant is an important part of any project.
Sometimes it can be a stage of the project in its own right.
Brefi Group will be delighted to discuss with you how we might help you
in a particular project, including using our experience and diagnostic
tools to prepare a project specification and brief that you can
then use to select your chosen consultant.
To contact a representative about how
Brefi Group can help with strategy consultancy, organisation and management development, director development and corporate governance, or coaching and coach training, use our contact page.
Alternatively, if you would prefer to talk to one of our consultants, then call +44 (0) 121 288 3417.