You’ve decided to outsource some of your work to a consulting firm. This is a big decision and it’s one that you did not come to lightly. You didn’t just wake up one day and decide to outsource; there was planning and researching and evaluating. The next step is to decide where to send the work to. It may sound like a simple task, but choosing the wrong consulting firm can quickly undo all of the careful planning that was put into the initial decision to outsource. As you are evaluating the options, consider things like skills, knowledge, experience and references.
Skills and expertise
The knowledge that you need your consulting firm to have will depend upon the nature of your project. For example, if you are interested in outsourcing your Quality Management System, you will want a company that specializes in international standards and documentation. If you are interested in outsourcing your company’s safety program, you’ll look for a company that specializes in Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) regulations and emergency medical knowledge. Keep your project in mind when you compile the list of consulting firms that you want to investigate.
Some more general skills to look for are attention to detail, clear communication, project planning, deadline management and timely follow up. The list is very similar to what you would look for in a direct employee for a position that does not have much direct supervision.
Experience and references
A proven track record is key when it comes to evaluating experience. A consulting firm can say they are experts in anything and everything. Make them prove it to you by providing a list of customers that they have worked for in the past as well as the nature of the projects that they worked on with them. If the firm is good at what they do, the will have no problem with providing the name and phone number or email address of their key contact for the project as a reference. When you contact the customers of the consulting firm, ask specific questions about turnaround time, communication and their satisfaction with the results.
When to keep looking
Choosing the right consulting firm for you can be hard, but there are some red flags that help make it easier to spot the wrong one. A consulting firm that does not return your calls promptly or is habitually late for meetings is one to strike from your list. These are clear signs that they are unreliable. If they are not responsive during the interview phase, it will only get worse after they are hired and it will cause problems for your project.
A consulting firm that consistently presents ideas that do not fulfill your clearly defined needs is another one to remove from consideration. A good consulting firm will listen to your needs, take notes, ask intelligent questions and come back with solutions for you, not for them.
One final red flag is a consulting firm that is all smiles and roses throughout project discussions. If they are not helping you identify potential problems, they’re not really taking ownership in the project. A consulting firm that really wants your project to succeed will point out possible issues and take time to make sure you both agree that the solutions are the most profitable for your business.
Prince’s Consultancy Services Ltd is there to serve any organization in any industry to implement health, safety and even quality systems. Write or call them here.