Maximize the Return on Your Business Consultant Investment

In my last post we talked about when you should consider engaging an independent consultant:

> to accomplish things you can’t accomplish with your own resources, skills, and marketplace connections

> to ‘test the waters’ without ‘tipping your hand’ to your competitors or future customers

> to provide an independent and unbiased assessment of tough, contentious issues

If you haven’t engaged a consultant before – or have been less than satisfied with the experience – here’s a practical recipe for earning the best return on your consulting investment.

1. Select a consultant that fits your need – There’s a broad range of perfectly competent consultants out there, from loose networks of individual experts, to small ‘boutique’ companies, to large highly mechanized consumer survey houses (think Gallup and Harris), to the management consulting giants (Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey, and the like).  Selecting the right one for your unique needs will depend on issues like the nature of the business problem or opportunity you face, the particular industries and customer groups relevant to you, and your budget and time constraints.

2. Manage the relationship with your consultant – Your consultant is the expert, but you’re the boss.  You are ultimately responsible for the success of the consulting engagement – by setting clear expectations and deliverables up front, by monitoring and facilitating timely progress, and by sticking to agreed upon project goals and resisting the natural urge to pursue ‘rabbit trails’ and ‘scope creep’.

3. Monetize the results – No matter how insightful the results and recommendations of your consulting project, they’re essentially valueless until you use them to change your operations and the role your business plays in the marketplace.  Identify up front the problems you need to solve and how to use project results to solve them, make sure the rest of your organization is on-board with your goals, and follow through with a plan to change your product line, your marketing and business plan, or the way you operate.

Coming up … Posts with practical advice on how to select the proper consultant, how to plan and manage an effective consulting engagement, and how to transform insights from your consultant project into fatter profits.

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One Response to “Maximize the Return on Your Business Consultant Investment”

  1. Leslie Walker says:

    I am a business consultant, and I totally agree with everything you said here! Thanks for sharing.

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