Using consultants effectively


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Small self study on effectively using consultants for medium and huge organizations.

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Using consultants effectively

  1. 1. Using Consultants Effectively <br />Nhung Nguyen<br />
  2. 2. Topics Covered <br /><ul><li> Understanding Consulting and Consultants
  3. 3. Consultants: How are they different from contractors or employees?
  4. 4. Consultants: When and Why do companies need them?</li></ul> When and Why don’t they need them?<br /><ul><li> Consultants: What makes a good consultant?
  5. 5. Consultants: How to work with them during the project?
  6. 6. Consulting: Top causes of Project failure when using consultants
  7. 7. Consulting: Keys to Success
  8. 8. Consulting : Some final thoughts</li></ul>2<br />Using Consultants Effectively <br />
  9. 9. Understanding Consulting and Consultants <br /><ul><li>CONSULTING/CONSULTANCY- Providing professional advice in a particular area of expertise. - Is the act, system, process, or procedure of undertaking or performing the responsibilities of advising as guided by the underlining principles and ethics of the profession.
  10. 10. CONSULTANTS- The professionals or experts in the field who provide consulting service are called consultants. - A consultant usually works for a consultancy firm or is self-employed, and engages with multiple and changing clients. - Consultants often work on contract, they sell their knowledge or services for a fee </li></ul> (Excerpt from Wikipedia)<br />3<br />Using Consultants Effectively <br />
  11. 11. 4<br />Using Consultants Effectively <br />Link Decreasingly<br />How different from contractors /employees?<br />Employers<br />Staff<br /><ul><li>Employees: workers and managers working for a company, organisation or community; hired by an employer to do a particular "job"
  12. 12. Contractors: are engaged to perform predetermined tasksfor which they have specific expertise, such as HTML programming or instructional design. They typically execute defined tasks and require close supervision, whether working on a team or individually.
  13. 13. Consultants: are engaged to perform feasibility studies; research, define and recommend solutions; develop action plans for problems; or make active ongoing team and management contributions. They typically work closely with their client to shape the project they are working on, influence the project’s direction based on findings, and deliver results designed to meet their client’s objectives.</li></ul>Restricted staff<br />Partner<br />Employees<br /> (Wikipedia & Think180)<br />
  14. 14. Comparison of Employee Vs. Consultant Costs<br />5<br />Using Consultants Effectively <br />Comparison at the first year only, for years after, companies will pay less rate for employees (no recruitment, no training…)<br /> (Think180 – Revised: April 3rd, 2006)<br />
  15. 15. When and Why do companies need consultants? <br />Have already defined the objectives to be achieved [What does the consultancy have to achieve? What is the outcome? What is the product or project? Who is it for? …], but for a variety of reasons cannot undertake the project themselves <br />Need people who are experts in the company’s sector, perhaps to assess the implications of a move by one of competitors, or to help decide whether a new management approach brings benefits for the company - a unique organization (e.g.: customer relationship management – CRM)<br />Facing a shortage of expertiseamong existing personnel or have restrictions in hiring new staff, or need to acquire new knowledge through skills transfer<br />The company already knows that the project can't be done without a unique set of skills or access to unique tools, methodologies, or technologywhich the company knows consultants have<br />The given approach must be performed quickly and the person charged with completing the project is unable to meet the demands placed on it without outside (e.g.: PR around a special event)<br />Need objective, independent and outside points of view(e.g.: many outside changes that may not have been adjusted by the company, even the managers)<br />6<br />Using Consultants Effectively <br />3Ps Rule:<br />- People: Special skill <br />Sets<br /><ul><li>Process: How to approach the task
  16. 16. Perspective: Independent view)</li></li></ul><li>7<br />Using Consultants Effectively <br />When and Why companies don’t need consultants? <br />Already understand the problem fully from their own investigation and also have all experiences and skill sets to solve the problem<br />When there is a need some external data, or a requirement to apply creative thinking or innovative approaches<br />Want to resolve conflicts between company staffs (e.g.: Some employees believe the plan working well while other peers do not. )<br />To confirm management decision that has already been made or in order to deflect blame onto the consultants<br />When the company can get help easily from other sources (communities, government, universities, colleges and volunteers…)<br />Source: The virtual consultancy, consultancy book, NAO Report, AFMFL, Total Logistics …<br />
  17. 17. What makes a good consultant<br />8<br />They possess business acumen: Know how to listen company goals, talk to company staffs, reframe problems into business issues and demonstrate business knowledge and behaviour<br />They understand how organizations work: They understand company structures, staff behavior and business processes. They must understand and work within the company politics and power structure.<br />They build trust and rapport: Treat company info confidentially, keep good partnership with company executives and respect company staff. Match the style of thinking of the project team and show compassion in recognizing problems.<br />They communicate effectively: Always listen first and talk after. Facilitate contributions from project team and recognize them as the project owners. <br />They are skillful and knowledgeable: set clear plan, boundaries and expectations for the project. Propose good, feasible and affordable solutions for the company. <br />They accept responsibility: Keep track of activities and proactively address problems, follow up on concerns and make clear reports. <br />Essential Skills for Effective Consultation – EAP Association<br />Using Consultants Effectively <br />
  18. 18. How to work with consultants during project life?<br /><ul><li>Choose project leader and the core team to work with consultants. Make sure they understand the project well and agree to support consultants.
  19. 19. Clarify project scope, related deliverables, related resources, contracts and RFPs. Never let consultants wait for information or people or you will pay for nothing.
  20. 20. RFP, RFQ, contract, consultant proposal and quotation(*) decide project’s success, and must cover every detail and agreements between the 2 parties. (e.g.: consultants may propose timelines which are too short, so make sure you evaluate the feasibility and make corrections)
  21. 21. Define appropriate level and range of authority for consultants
  22. 22. Listen to your consultants [wider experience and look than yours] and treat them like professional partners, not contract employees
  23. 23. Hold regular reviews on the progress and delivery of the contract and project. Action points arising from review meetings should be agreed in writing</li></ul>9<br />Using Consultants Effectively <br />(*) RFP, RFQ, Proposals, quotations and contract are important but out of this presentation scope. The presentation author isn’t mentioning them in detail here. <br />
  24. 24. How to work with consultants during project life?<br />10<br />Using Consultants Effectively <br />
  25. 25. Top causes of Project failure when using consultants<br /><ul><li>Company staff tends to be defensive and not co-operative with changes (*)
  26. 26. Company managers didn’t get good understanding and support from staffs before hiring consultants
  27. 27. Hire consultants just by their reputations or relationships with executive staff (*)
  28. 28. Poor reporting: Executive staff gives the project completely for consultants without reviews
  29. 29. With big company, deployment of a project at company-wide-level at the first step. [Split and do trial on small staff and spreading to other staffs instead] (*)
  30. 30. Insufficient Information: company didn’t give enough info and consultants make assumptions about the project
  31. 31. Change of scope: Changes are not all bad. However, moving the goal or alter the desired outcome are dangerous. As much further project goes, as much dangerous the changes are
  32. 32. Consultants don’t listen and react properly to company staff’s feedbacks
  33. 33. Consultants are too eager to switch tasks too quickly based on their experience instead of really listening to the client, may cause defensive attitude from the company staff (*)
  34. 34. Consultants lack knowledge for the company sector.</li></ul>11<br />(*) Refer to the RECs project<br />Using Consultants Effectively <br />
  35. 35. Consulting , Keys to Success<br /><ul><li>Being sure the company can’t go anywhere with a planned project within available staff and resources before looking for consultants
  36. 36. The company has to define the problem well and decide their readiness first
  37. 37. Good time investment to build up RFPs/RFQs/contracts fully and clearly as well as consultants interviews
  38. 38. Project principals of each party (companies and consultants) have enough understanding and definition of responsibilities for the project and contract.
  39. 39. Company executive staff has to follow and keep track as well as solve the matters regularly with consultants.
  40. 40. No changes to scope without formal change control processes
  41. 41. Project team have to work with a win-win spirit, no behave like “I’m a staff member” and “you’re a stranger.”</li></ul>12<br />Using Consultants Effectively <br />
  42. 42. Conclusion: Is your company ready to get a consultant?<br /><ul><li>Self understanding, do you know what the problem is and what you need to be done?
  43. 43. Think again, can the planned project be done by your staff with a little more training or support?
  44. 44. Remember, you must understand whose project it is. You cannot assign the ownership of the project to a third party. You are accountable for the project success</li></ul>13<br />Using Consultants Effectively <br />
  45. 45. Reference<br /><ul><li>The RECS Project (International journal of Case Studies)
  46. 46. Wikipedia (
  47. 47. Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (
  48. 48. Think180 ( – A consulting provider organisation
  49. 49. Free Management Library (
  50. 50. The Virtual Consultancy (
  51. 51. How to use a consultant in your company: a managers' and executives' guide By John J. McGonagle, Carolyn M. Vella
  52. 52. NAO Report (HC 488 2010-2011) Central government's use of consultant
  53. 53. Connecting Up (
  54. 54. Total Logistics (
  55. 55. Allegany Franciscan Ministries. Inc. (
  56. 56. Ezine Articles (
  57. 57. How To Use Consultants Effectively Seven Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Relationship with McVinney & Company
  58. 58. Business Consulting Buzz (
  59. 59. (
  60. 60. Employee Assistance Professionals Association of Los Angeles (</li></ul>14<br />Using Consultants Effectively <br />
  61. 61. Authorship<br /><ul><li>This document was prepared by Nhung Nguyen under the guidance of Tony Carter, Centennial College School of Business.
  62. 62. It was developed to support the BUSN 450 Case & Field Based Learning RECS Case
  63. 63. Nhung is a graduate of the Universities of Natural Sciences, Ho Chi Minh City , Vietnam and has worked in Canada as a software developer and product manager </li></ul>15<br />Using Consultants Effectively <br />