Getting the best out of your independent consultant

April 12, 2017 Katy Roberts

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If you are reading this article, chances are that you understand the need, and the importance, of accessing a new agile talent pool through independent consultancy, which is exactly why you’ve come to the home of independent business talent. But adopting a new way of working can be a somewhat daunting task – especially if you’ve never worked this way before. It needn’t be. We’ve put together some of the best guides and resources to help you along your way – and to set you on your path for immediate success, we’ve put together a few pointers that will help you to get the best results from your independent consultant, from the very first day. 

1.    A good brief

The importance of a good project brief is often the one factor most overlooked, when it comes to new project management and resourcing. In fact, neglecting to have a formulated, thought-through brief is like having the piece of paper in your wallet without the currency value printed on it - lots of potential, but very little hope of getting there. A good brief doesn’t necessarily mean that you know exactly what solution you’re going to get, but rather a transparent, honest insight into what you’re trying to achieve. A good brief includes things like deliverables, time deadlines, budget expectations and restraints, project rollout expectations and more. A good brief tells your independent consultant more about your goals and values as an organisation enabling them to get a cleaner, more succinct view of your vision. Your brief forms the blueprint for the proposal that they will put together for you. The chances are, if your brief hasn’t enabled them to frame an adequate solution for you, you won’t find the resource you need to get it done.  

2.    Explain the challenge, not the solution

There’s an analogy often used in the Product Management and Development worlds where the Product Manager is looking for the Development team to design a button that performs a function. In the Product Manager’s mind, the button is the solution to a larger challenge. In the Developer’s mind, he wants to understand the challenge before he designs the button – because there may just be an opportunity for a much simpler, quicker to implement, solution.  And so too does this analogy relate to the greater business world. You are looking to use an independent consultant who has extensive experience, highly sought-after industry skill and has more-than-likely seen similar challenges in other organisations before. Be sure to explain your challenges, your goals and your targets as an organisation to a prospective consultant – and you never know, they may just find an even simpler solution to implement that will get you there quicker, and easier. 

3.    Be open to building trust 

We understand that the choice to involve an independent consultant in your business is not always an easy one to make. More often than not, you are requesting help within the fundamental core of your organisation, to work through challenges and hurdles that prevent you from moving forward successfully – and very often, that means exposing a few things about the way that you work, or how your own customers see your organisation, to someone who has never met you or worked with you before. And as much as it may surprise you, the independent consultant who is looking to see you succeed, shares one key motivator: the need to build trust to establish a project plan that will see you achieve your goal.  Entrusting fundamental thought and organisational know-how to your independent consultant means you are enabling them to help you find a solution quickly, and sometimes, this could simply mean acting as their champion when it comes to stakeholder management on a higher level (for example the members of the board, investors, the press).  The sooner you are able to establish a common understanding within a clear, structured framework, the better your chances to see the results of your (and by “your”, I mean both yours and the Independent Consultant that you select) hard work. 

4.    Access to all – from data to people to functions to process. 

The beauty of using an independent consultant is that they join your organisation with one goal in mind – to help you achieve a purpose. They come without any hidden agenda or ulterior motive. Which is why it is still surprising to hear that many consultants are often challenged with gated access to individuals, functions and relevant data. Perhaps echoing the thoughts from point 3 above, providing your independent consultant with the tools, information and access that they need is something that can only be done through trust and clearly defined intentions. We understand that security and duty of care often means a somewhat restricted access level – but before you throw away the key to the padlock, take the time to understand exactly what your consultant requires, the reasons why they require it and what they aim to do once they access your data and your teams. 

5.    Being brave enough to face the truth – no matter what that looks like. 

Your independent consultant is not there to make friends, and they’re certainly not there to fail. Their success is dependent on your success – and it is within their best interests to ensure that their delivery aligns to your goals. But sometimes, that means that they have a responsibility, as a relative outsider to your organisation, to ask the questions that may not have been asked before, and to challenge the perspectives that may be hard to talk about. The biggest step towards success is being prepared to have those difficult conversations that you may otherwise avoid – not because they think it is a bad idea, but more often than not, to test the robustness of a thought or process.  

If you are ready to embrace a new way of working, and kick start your next step to success, then speak to a member of the Talmix team today.

About the Author

Katy Roberts

Katy is an independent marketing consultant and founded Fresh Brew Marketing out of her love for the cuppa. A seasoned marketer, Katy writes for several global publications and provides outsourced marketing services to businesses throughout the UK. She is a keen geocacher and rates running around in city centres dressed in Christmas lights as one of her most successful Social Media campaigns to date.

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