Specialist Or Generalist: Which Consultant Do You Really Need?

Executives often wonder how to approach the decision to hire a consultant who specializes in one aspect of their industry, or a consultant who has proven results in most areas, but who doesn’t have any specific niche experience. After all, the population of consultants has exponentially increased in response to corporate belt-tightening in the area of permanent staffing.

If you’re looking for the right consultant, there are several factors that will help you decide whether a specialist or a generalist is right for your needs. First of those considerations are the pros of both types. But there are also some important decisions you’ll need to make before you start searching.

Strategic Considerations

Before you begin your search for the consultant who best fits your needs and your company’s needs, there are two important things you must do:

  1. Be clear about the problem you are trying to solve by hiring a consultant. The more clearly you understand the problem you’re facing, and the better you can articulate it, the better equipped you’ll be to make the decision between a generalist and a specialist.
  2. Balance your resource allocation. You want to procure the right consultant to create new solutions—not to create new financial problems. And obviously, correctly identifying the problem helps balance your resource allocation. Misidentifying your problem can be costly: remember that old saying, “We cut it three times and it’s still too short?”

Consultants—whether generalists or specialists—essentially have one strategic function: optimizing your ROI or expanding your customer base. The consultant you select must understand that she is fulfilling that function, and bring to the table the skillset and experience that will address one of those strategic functions.

Which projects are generalists best for? Which projects are specialists right for? Here’s a rundown of the pros and cons of each:

The Generalist

Generalists, broadly speaking, tend to work in smaller, boutique consulting firms, but also play strong roles in large, global consulting firms. They may be new to consulting or new to the business world, but not necessarily. Typically they have broad-based knowledge and a willingness to adapt flexibly to an enterprise’s needs. Here are the main characteristics of generalist consultants:

  • They work well in teams, especially with other generalists, as they tend to have strengths in seeing both the forest and the trees, and the interrelationships between the two. In other words, they can connect the dots between the problem you are trying to solve and how potential solutions may affect the rest of your enterprise.
  • They tend to be a good fit for broader, larger-scale consulting projects for that reason: their types of experiences lead directly to their ability to connect all the dots and offer the most fitting solution.
  • Generalists excel at analysis, whether the presented problem is the “real” one to be solved or whether it is masking an underlying issue that needs to be solved first.
  • On the solutions side, generalists may have experience with a range of types of solutions. They tend not to offer cookie-cutter fixes. Instead, they custom tailor a solution for your enterprise. As a bonus, they may be able to draw upon former experience and apply it to current your problem in a way that is innovative.
  • Generalists may want to solve by themselves issues that could be better addressed by specialist consultants, and thus lack the right knowledge and/or expertise.
  • They might prove to be a costly solution if their contribution is limited to managing other consultants on your behalf

 

To sum up, generalists are effective in teams and ideal at tailoring solutions, especially for management-level issues or larger-scale, complex projects. Note, too, that if you think a longer-term partnership with a consultant is on the horizon, go with a generalist who can always find a specialist when needed.

The Specialist

Specialists typically have chosen to concentrate their efforts and abilities in a more narrow arena such as energy, IT, or finance, or in a particular industry, such as healthcare or pharmaceuticals. Many specialists have jumped from years of employment in their field of expertise to the world of consulting.

Major consulting firms usually have a range of specialists who are highly trained and deeply experienced in their chosen fields, but boutique firms also may specialize in a given industry or knowledge field. Here are some of the key benefits that specialists can bring to the table:

  • Specialists are passionate about their field or industry. They keep current on new findings and industry news. They understand the competitive pressures within their specialized industry.
  • They also provide solutions for enterprises. With their high levels of training and experience, specialists may be able to zoom in on and implement solutions quickly, which may conserve resources for the company.
  • Specialists love to transfer their knowledge, and will immediately be recognized by your teams on a dimension they comprehend.
  • They can see all problems through their area of expertise. As popularized by Abraham Maslow, “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”.
  • Specialists will bring to you the state of the industry but might reuse at least for statistic purposes some of your data. That is the unsaid rule of the game.

 

The key to successfully using a specialist is the executive’s ability to correctly identify and articulate the problem that needs a resolution. If the scope of the problem is limited to the rapid advancement of IT changes, for instance, a specialist is the natural place to turn. If the problem at hand is limited to circuit board assembly supply chains, turning to an industry specialist makes great sense in terms of both outcomes and resources.

Ultimately, there is a role for both generalists and specialists in the world of consulting. Each type of consultant successfully helps executives find solutions, given the right situation.

Take heart if you find yourself at a crossroads and need to turn to a consultant. There is great news: a consulting brokerage firm has already done all the heavy lifting of assessing a wide range of high-quality consulting firms globally to fit every type of enterprise, budget, and project. They can be a savior in assisting you to select the right type of consulting firm.

Executives who initially turn to a global consulting brokerage company may find they assistance they need to identify which type of consultant will be most likely to optimize ROI or expand their customer base.

Consulting Quest specializes in identifying consulting solutions that boost your competitive edge. Let us know how we can assist you.

Research And Communication Helps You Find The Right Consultant

Research And Communication Helps You Find The Right Consultant

Finding the right consultant for your business can be a tricky process. It’s not just about knowing where to look, but knowing what to look for. Just like hiring a new employee, you want to be sure your new consultant is someone who will actively support and help you achieve your business goals. So, where do you begin?

Before you start your search for a consultant, clarify exactly what you types of results you are looking for. You know for sure your primary objective: increase sales, update marketing efforts, overhaul your HR department… But are you clear on the scope? Do you want a benchmark of best practices, a diagnostic of your current performance or support in the implementation? Besides have you identified how you will measure success? The clearer your goals, the easier it will be to home in on the right consultant for the job.

Whether you’ve received a referral from a friend or you’ve been exploring your options on the internet, it is important to keep these needs in mind while looking for a consultant. Someone might blow you away with her ideas and proposals, but if she’s not going to give you the results you need, there’s not much point in hiring her. However, by taking your time, doing your research, and considering all the facts, you will be able to find a consultant who’s the right fit for your company.

So, if you’re wondering how to find a consultant who can provide the outcome you’re looking for, here are a few tips:

  1. Ask questions. Finding a consultant online is not just about putting in your requirements to a system and waiting. You need to ask the right questions. One great way to do this is by reading a consultant’s past reviews. Has she worked on projects similar to yours? Has she been able to produce results? Has she effectively increased the bottom line of the companies she has worked with?
     
  2. Ask whom she has worked with. According to this article from Huffington Post, you should find out if the consultant has worked with businesses of the same size as yours. If she has generally worked with small businesses, she may not have the right skills to work with large ones, and vice versa. Try to get a feel for the businesses that are rating the consultant. If you find that businesses of the same size and focus as your own are rating a consultant well, then there’s a good chance that she will be a good fit for you, as well.
     
  3. Do you feel comfortable with her? This article from Huffington Post is about bridal consultants, which is probably not the type of consultant that you’re looking for. Interestingly, however, many of the things that people are looking for in a business consultant are the same things that they’re looking for in a bridal consultant. For example, you know that the consultant is not right for you when “you feel pressured to make a quick decision,” “you feel like she’s not listening to you,” “you feel judged” and “you feel neglected.” Even when you’re making business decisions, it’s important that the consultant with whom you decide to work makes you feel comfortable. You should be able to communicate with her easily.
     
  4. Communicate. Before you even ask for a proposal or presentation, you should communicate clearly with your potential consultant about what you are looking for. Make it clear that you expect workable results and not just theoretical ideas. Tell her about your goals and your current strategies for how to achieve those goals. Familiarize her with the structure of your business and the types of products or services you provide. The more you can tell the consultant about yourself and your business, the better she will be able to serve you. The consultant who pays attention, asks questions, and works your ideas into her proposal, is one who likely deserves your business.

 

  1. Read proposals and listen to presentations. Most consultants will be delighted to write a proposal tailored to your business. You might feel like you’re asking the consultant to do a lot of work. However, most good consultants will be happy to have the chance to show you what they can do, in as much detail as possible. If a consultant feels like your business is not worth putting in that extra effort for, then you know that she’d likely not be a good fit for the job. When you’re given a proposal, don’t just skim over it. Be respectful of the time and effort this consultant has put into preparing it, and make sure that you give it your full attention. The same goes for the presentation. Be attentive, and if you have any questions for the consultant, now’s the time to bring them up.
     

By setting clear goals, doing the proper research, and knowing what to expect from the right candidate, you will be able to move forward with confidence and find a consultant who can get the job done. Here at Consulting Quest, we simplify the process for you. We’ll match you with a consultant who has the right experience and skills for your business. 

The 3 Key Lessons Executives Learn When Using A Top Consulting Firm

The 3 Key Lessons Executives Learn When Using A Top Consulting Firm

Attention executives: if you are considering outsourcing a project to a consulting firm, whether or not you have hired consultants before, we have great news—there’s a new way to view the value of the right consultant.

 

Did you know that executives who pay close attention, beginning with the procurement of the consultant through the completion of the project (including debriefing and follow-up), have a bonus waiting for them? It is that partnering with the right top consulting firm on a project offers unexpected key business lessons.

 

First, let’s look at what we mean by a “top consulting firm.”

 

You have heard the saying, “you can’t eat prestige.” Prestige has its place, but let’s face it: you can procure high-quality consulting services at a cost that fits into the budget of any enterprise. Creating a company budget crisis by opting for a global-brand consultant simply makes no practical sense. That consulting firm may offer one solution while putting a large enough dent in your budget, so that other projects suffer.

So where does that leave your consulting procurement? Actually in a better place! Here’s why.

A top consulting firm is one that has the skills and experience to meet your current project needs as well as complement your company’s culture and budget. The right firm may be a smaller boutique firm that specializes in just the type of project you have at hand, or a larger firm with the sub-specialty that you seek.

 

A top firm, then, has a track record of being in the right place for the right project, solid working relationships, flexibility, adaptable solutions, and great follow-up.

 

Happily, this leads us directly to lesson number one.

 

Balancing resources.

 

You have made the decision to pivot to a consultant as a way to solve a problem and, at the same time, manage your overhead. Why then jeopardize that balancing act with a consultant out of your price range?

 

Instead, opt for a consulting services advisor with a depth of experience in matching enterprises with high-quality consulting services at the right price point. As an added bonus, your procurement team will save time, since a highly efficient advisor will have accessed, reviewed, and rated a broad range of consulting services for you in advance.

 

Implied in balancing resources, of course, is the idea of adequate resources. Before you choose a consultant, prepare thoroughly the scoping and the phasing of the project, and the necessary associated resources. You may realize that you don’t need the same resources for the different phases, and thus, decide to buy the phases separately. When you have chosen a consulting team, observe it during both the planning phase and the implementation phase of the project with a focus on balancing resources.

 

The planning phase is a strategic mapping session that identifies objectives, stakeholders, participants, and steps to success. Negotiating what constitutes adequate project resources (beyond procuring the consultant) is a key part of this phase.

 

Balancing resources in this phase often means applying some creativity in optimizing internal company resources at hand. Let’s say the consultant suggests that a person with a specific skill is needed for the project. Is there a person elsewhere in your company who has the right skill, perhaps from a prior workplace or career, and who is able to participate?

 

Now for implementation. Notice how the consulting team balances the utilization of people available to them on the project—and also within their own consulting team. That’s an example of project team leadership which manages to avoid burnout and staff turnover while getting the job done on time and within (a balanced) budget.

 

Notice, too, how the consultant encourages your team to share and conserve resources, and to be creative to resolve resource issues.

 

Marrying current knowledge plus experience

Lesson number two is about the value of taking a range of experiences and marrying them to the latest knowledge in the field.

Experience alone does not always optimize results. Do you want your child to be taught by a teacher who has taught for twenty years and who has “always done it this way”? Better to have a teacher with half the experience who stays current with the latest field-test results on pedagogical approaches.

 

Top consulting firms tend to have systems in place to ensure that team members share both knowledge and experiences.

 

  • They actively access—or contribute to—emerging thought leadership.

  • They debrief past projects internally (maintaining client confidentiality) to cull lessons.

  • Then they connect the dots from those experiences and ideas to your project.

 

Watch how your consultant draws on both her experience and her access to current intelligence in the field to fashion a solution that fits your needs perfectly. It looks something like this:

 

At a specific crossroad in the project, the consultant might say, Oh yes, I’ve seen this issue before. Company A handled it this way last year, but I just read where Company B solved it in a much more integrated way which would work well here, too.

 

Other examples will emerge as you debrief your consultant. It’s all about retaining knowledge, sharing it, and then connecting the dots to apply it appropriately.

 

Now it’s your turn: what is your takeaway lesson on marrying current knowledge and experience, and how will you apply that lesson across your enterprise?

 

The unforeseen significance of debriefing

 

Stifle that yawn.

 

Debriefing a project with a top consultant sometimes yields unforeseen golden nuggets if you know how to uncover them. For example:

 

  • Working on the project may have revealed talents among your employees that you had not been aware they possessed. Perhaps an employee’s leadership skills emerged.

  • Maybe a new way to reach potential customers or interface with current customers bubbled to the surface. How do you get that information to the marketing and sales teams?

  • Possibly the data provided to the project team also revealed tangential information that may be helpful to your company in another arena.

There is a simple way to ensure your access to these golden nuggets: insert into the consulting contract a paragraph requesting that the consultant document these types of data, even though they may be ancillary to the goals of the consulting project, and highlight them in her debriefing.

Working with a top consultant is an efficient way to meet your company’s current needs but it can offer a much richer value for the observant executive: new ways to think about balancing resources, marrying experience and ideas, and identifying new information during debriefings which, although ancillary to the specific project completed, may be significant to the company as a whole.

We now have reached bonus lesson number four: procuring the right consultant matters in more ways than it seemed before.

 

Competition among consulting teams currently is tighter than ever, but Consulting Quest has braved those choppy waters and stands ready to identify the perfect fit for your project and your company.

Where The Rubber Meets The Road: What To Do Once The Consultant Departs

Where The Rubber Meets The Road: What To Do Once The Consultant Departs

You have decided to pivot to a consultant to bridge your company’s skills gaps, better optimize your profits, or boost your marketing and sales effectiveness. As an experienced executive, you completely get that you need a discrete plan—with its clear timelines and goals—and a winning RFP to attract the right partners in the first place.

What may get overlooked, however, is the critical point where the rubber will meet the road: how to follow up the work of the consultant.

After all, procuring a consultant is an investment and the return on that investment comes through the follow-up. Here are the seven most helpful tips for optimizing the return on your consulting procurement.

1. Aim beyond the project.

Envision what success will look like. No, not at the end of the project—longer-term.

Picture someone about to break a block of wood or concrete with a karate chop. If he aims for the block, he instinctually will start to draw back a bit just as he is about to make contact with the block. Now picture him focusing a foot past the block as he aims, then chops. Crack!

Aim past the project. That will help begin to mark the right follow-up path.

2. Plan the transition from the RFP.

Remember, the RFP is all about procuring solutions, not just making a purchase. With that in mind, think long-term and include the ways to determine whether project goals were met and additional consulting support is needed once the consultant leaves.

  • Keep in touch. Executives and consultants should keep in touch to ensure that the consultant’s recommended systems and ideas work to resolve the original issue.
  • Yes, we’re talking about data collection—evidence that the new knowledge and systems work, fail, or result in zero changes that are meaningful. Build in the collecting of data points during the project for three to six months, or even a year afterward.
  • The data points need to measure the extent to which the solution you were aiming for does exist. You or the consultant can analyze these data as a way to determine project success, failure, or status quo, as well as the next steps to take.
  • Include a compliance check within the RFP. Once the original project ends, the consultant should schedule a return visit to determine to what extent your team absorbed new lessons and how well new systems are being incorporated as intended.
  • The last deliverable could actually be the proposed way forward.

3. Decision time: figure out which recommendations to keep.

Just because you paid a consultant to address a gap and offer a solution does not mean that your company needs to jump in blindly.

The company’s senior executives can sift through the consultant’s suggestions and cherry-pick the ones that are most likely to solve the issue at hand.

  • Once that sifting occurs, meet with the consultant for feedback on what your team has chosen as the wheat and what’s the chaff. After all, the consultant may have experience with what result can occur (positive or negative) if recommendation A is kept but recommendation B is tossed.

4. Know the what, the how and the who before the consultant exits.

Clarity with regard to the next steps is key. Knowing what to do but not how to do it is a roadblock to success.

Before the consultant departs, take the time to make sure that everyone affected knows what to do next, and how to do it and that the appropriate resources will be allocated.

  • The combination of the what to do and the how to do it makes the difference between a return on the consulting investment or a loss. It’s not enough that employees just understand. The rubber won’t meet the road if they can’t also implement what they know they need to do.

Plan ahead to build in ways to manage implementation and potential failures.

  • Who will be accountable for implementing the plan? How will the activity be steered?
  • Who will be responsible for correcting implementation issues? How often and by what method will that person be accessible?

5. Plan to retain learned knowledge and skills.

Whether it’s staff turnover or vacation time, new skills can get lost in life’s shuffle. You need a plan to keep that new information at the forefront of employees’ work.

  • Is transferring knowledge explicitly part of the mandate?
  • Will you offer annual refresher courses? Online manuals? Access to the consultant via email or web forum? All of the above?
  • Will there be a mentoring relationship for an extended timeframe once the project ends? Mentoring often makes the difference between long-term ROI or loss on consulting investments. Just be sure to structure the arrangement with a timeline and clear data points for ending the mentorship.

6. Keep the door open to transformational ideas.

You know what often happens when you focus for a time on a project and then step away. New, perhaps even transformational ideas may pop up unexpectedly.

  • Depending on how your company is structured, novel ideas can float up to your senior team or through your project team. Or perhaps the consultant experiences a couple of brainstorms once the project has ended.

You will want access to these raw new ideas. Coming on the heels of intense project focus, they may contain just the right germ of an idea that, when shaped and cultivated, can provide an unforeseen breakthrough that boosts your competitive edge.

  • Explicitly create the potential for following up with the consultant on promising innovative ideas and approaches after the initial project ends.

7. Build in check-ins as a forcing function.

Finally, assuming that you found the consulting team helpful, build in check-ins at the frequency that matches your business tempo to take a fresh look at what was accomplished and perhaps what needs to be tweaked now to continue to optimize the original investment. These build-in check-ins as forcing function will also prevent business as usual from taking over.

Procuring the consultant and working through the project aren’t the goals. Sustainable solutions that boost your competitive edge are the goals.

Meeting those goals requires you to lead the company through a follow-up phase once the consulting team leaves to ensure the highest return on your consulting investment.

For more information on how to make the most of your consulting investing, pivot to Consulting Quest, a global leader in optimizing solutions.

A Sure-Fire Process For Evaluating Proposal Quality

A Sure-Fire Process For Evaluating Proposal Quality

Your winning RFP process has attracted a score of proposals. Once the elation of that bounty fades, you come face to face with the daunting task of selecting the winning proposal.

Don’t just dive right in. Never lose track of the notion that it’s not about just making a purchase—it’s about solving a problem for your company. That’s why this task cries out for employing a sure-fire process that marries alignment with inspiration.

In this post, we’ll look at how to evaluate the quality of a proposal with an eye towards identifying the highest-quality solution for your company’s needs.

Warning: this information may run afoul of the herd approach to RFP evaluation.

Funnel down to potential winners, setting aside the rest.

Think of the process as a funnel into which you pour all the proposals.

  • At the narrow end will settle just those proposals that, even at a first glance, make your heart skip a beat. At the least, they meet every one of your RFP’s criteria. Plus they landed in your inbox on time, are well-organized, and seem promising.

  • A bit higher up the funnel are the proposals that are slightly off-track but still workable. Maybe they came in late with a good rationale or missed an inconsequential step, but some look promising. You want to avoid eliminating a potential gem too early in the process.

 

At this point, your impulse will be to shred the rest. Stifle that impulse.

Yes, anything high up in the funnel should be set aside for now as an unlikely fit, but keep these two key cautionary notes in mind:

  1. Don’t overlook or toss aside too quickly a proposal from an upstart entrepreneur with a great idea but less than desirable proposal-writing skills. There may be a way to have that idea become all or part of your business solution.

  2. Be careful not to burn bridges when you send your response to vendors with rejected proposals, regardless of how you view their current proposal. Here’s why:  In an environment of rapid change, these vendors may evolve into great partners or suppliers. Moreover, your company’s needs can evolve to the point where you might realize that one of these rejected proposals now would be a good fit.

 

Gather a team of proposal evaluators.

Okay—you now have the proposals in hand that, at first glance, meet your eligibility requirements and your other basic criteria. It’s time to get serious and pick your evaluation team.

Who might be among your team of reviewers? Procurement professionals, to be sure. Perhaps a senior executive or two, depending on the type of solution you are seeking.

  • Consider including end users where appropriate. One hallmark of innovative companies is that they view end users or customers as partners rather than consumers of a new product or service.

  • Seeking input from a range of stakeholders helps ensure that the evaluation process is perceived as fair and is more likely to result in selecting the best proposal for your company’s needs. Both of those are vital to successfully implement the new idea or project.

 

If your team lacks deep experience in the area of procurement processes, consider including a qualified and experienced consultant on the team to help build a process designed to procure the best solution for your company.

Review all the criteria: the forest and the trees.

Keep in mind that some people on your review team will be attuned to seeing the big picture—the forest—while others will focus on details—the trees. Having both types on your team is an advantage.

Start with these reminders:

  • Your project’s objectives which any winning proposal needs to fit.

  • Your corporate culture and the type of partner or supplier that might complement that culture and be the right fit.

  • The approach selected reinforce and support the overall purpose of the project, as such, depending on the context :  

    • Look for an entrepreneurial approach and an idea that may act like a company spark plug.

    • Look for an approach that is innovative, original, breakthrough or transformational, and a concept your company can leverage.

    • Be on the lookout for a particularly intelligent solution using advanced technologies and outside-the-box thinking.

    • … Or look for a proven and reliable approach

 

Ask the team to review the proposed solutions along the lines of problem resolution, clarity, internal consistency, and ease of implementation, as well as outside-the-box approaches.

Next, jump to the standards:

  • Eligibility

  • Ethics and any potential conflicts of interest

  • Transparency in the content of the proposal

  • The proposal meets or exceeds all or nearly all the criteria in the RFP

  • Ease of implementation and future buy-in

  • How thoroughly did the vendor research your company’s needs?

  • Quality and expertise of the team that will deliver the job

  • How does the proposal price align with your budget?

 

The fun begins: scoring/weighting/ranking.

In the initial round, go for individual scores based on a matrix. Embed a weight to each scoring criterion.

Since we are limiting our discussion to the quality of the proposal, weighting may look like this, depending on your current needs:

  • meets functional requirements – 30%

  • aligns well with corporate culture / fit – 15%

  • inspirational, breakthrough thinking; originality – 15%

  • team expertise – 10%

  • quality of written proposal and clarity of deliverables – 10%

  • Price 20%

 

Next, gather the team back together to build a consensus score. Why? Procurement is one of the backbones of your company’s path to increasing its ROI and keeping its competitive edge. The procurement process is simply too important to be left to a flat averaging of reviewers’ scores.

What can you gain form a consensus score?

  • You get beneath an outlier number to identify whether that evaluator, for example, has had a past experience that has informed the scoring. A key learning experience!

  • On the other hand, perhaps a reviewer uses the scoring to put a personal agenda into play—a move that can be revealed in building consensus.

  • Finally, a consensus score is more likely to be perceived as fair on the part of potential partners and suppliers, as well as your employees and end users.

 

This all sounds as if it is more work than a simple matrix of X criteria and Y responses—and it is. But the outcome will be worth it: a workable solution that will help keep your company’s competitive edge.

Last, if none of the proposals fits either your requirements or your budget, do not hesitate to go have a second round of discussions with the short listed companines. The better consultants understand your needs, the better they will be able to tailor the solution (scope, timing, team size) to accomodate your requirements.

If you need assistance with meshing your procurement process with your company’s strategic priorities and market needs, Consulting Quest stands ready to support you with a global perspective and a tailored solution.

 

Is it better to work with familiar consultants?

Is it better to work with familiar consultants?

When you have a new project, you might wonder whether you should return to the consultants you’ve used in the past or start over again with a new set of proposals. There are a number of factors to consider, with good reasons for doing either. Whether you work with someone you already have a relationship with, or you take a chance and start from scratch, there are some key questions and considerations to keep in mind.

Do you want a consultant who is familiar with your business and your style?

A consultant with whom you’ve worked in the past has already done the necessary research to understand your company. She will understand your values, your core beliefs, and the fundamental information that shapes your company. This means that she will already have a solid understanding of how all of those things will shape the project that you want done, which makes her more likely to be successful the first time. She also will have existing relationships with the members of your company, which will make working with them easier.

Working with the same consultants on a regular basis will improve your ability to effectively communicate what you want from them. The individual relationship with each consultant isn’t cultivated overnight. In fact, you’ll start working on this relationship when you hire a consultant for the first time. If you like a consultant’s style, you can cultivate her into a fully informed and regular consultant for your business with a minimum of effort.

On the other hand, a consultant who is familiar with your business and your style won’t necessarily bring the fresh new ideas to the table that you’re looking for. After all, taking a chance on a different consultant will give you the opportunity to interact with someone new and benefit from the talent that she brings to the table.

What is the consultant’s area of expertise?

As with any other profession, there will be consultants who are more skilled in some areas than others. When you work closely with a consultant, you’ll learn quickly where her specific skills lie. Over time, you will learn when it’s best to call in a particular consultant who has the skills necessary for the task at hand and when it’s better to look to a different consultant.

You should always choose the consultant with the best skills for the job, rather than allowing yourself to stay with the old and familiar, simply to avoid needing to go through the proposal process.

A returning consultant will need less input from you, but a new consultant will be more likely to come back to you for feedback.

After the job has been outlined, a returning consultant will be able to get down to it. This means that your time is freed to deal with other issues, while the consultant takes care of the job that you hired her for. There might be less frequent communication as you hire the same consultant more often, which can be both good and bad.

As you develop a relationship with a consultant, you’ll learn what information she needs to work, without quite as much supervision.

On the other hand, this does mean that she is more likely to assume that she knows what you want, right up until the final product is handed over. If you’re not satisfied, it may mean that you have a delay while you wait to see the changes.

Is your business becoming too dependent on a particular consultant?

You don’t want to feel as though your business can’t function without the input of a familiar consultant, especially one who could become aware of that dependency. You always want to be able to enter into a new relationship with a new consultant if prices change or you start to see a decline in the quality of your consultant’s work.

New consultants offer new ideas and new skills.

You’re always looking for fresh new material, and bringing in new consultants is one of the best ways to get it. Your familiar consultants will bring their usual ideas and experience to the table, but a new consultant will have a different perspective to offer.

Ideally, you should always ask for a quote from at least a couple of different consultants before diving in with a single one. This will help ensure that you receive the best possible price. There’s a balance to be struck in knowing the right time to use familiar consultants and when to bring in new ones. Choosing the best option will ensures your company the greatest success.