Is It Time to Hire a Consultant? Setting the Table for Success.

by Joe

So,  you think maybe it’s time to bring in a consultant.  Do you know how to match the right consultant with the needs of your organization?    How you address this has a huge impact on the future of the relationship.  Having served many clients over the last fifteen years, we think we’ve learned quite a bit about what fosters productive client-consultant relationships and what doesn’t.

The Roles Consultants Play

One place to start is having a clear notion of what you actually want your consultant to do for you.  Consultants can occupy a fairly broad array of roles. 

As the client, you may be searching for a consultant to help you answer key questions about the business.  A market research consultant, for instance, is retained to study questions about how consumers react to ad messages, new product concepts and other marketing variables.  A good consultant will think beyond the bounds of the project as the client frames it and will ask questions about how the information will ultimately be used.  This additional perspective may result in the problem statement being reworked and the scope either broadened or narrowed.  Beware of the consultant who does not think beyond the RFP.

On another occasion, you may want a consultant’s help in solving an important problem.  For instance, finding a new raw material source, re-thinking a production process, or something else.  As in the first example, the best consultants will take the time to consider if the pinpointed problem is really the right one to address.  Questions Word 4 Asia often asks our clients include

  • ‘What solutions have worked in the past?’
  • ‘Which related aspects of the client’s work are not going well?’
  • ‘How will the solution be applied?’

It’s also important to know the prospective consultant’s record for correct diagnoses.   Ask for case-studies where correctly identifying the root cause of a problem led to effective solutions.

What recommendation delivery method is right for your organization? 

The follow up question to this is ‘What is the prospective consultant’s experience and success in delivering recommendations in the way(s) that best suit your team?’  Is your management team prone to change or is change something which is feared and/ or poorly executed?   A consultant’s ability to influence receptivity of their recommendations will also have a huge impact on the ultimate value of the project to the organization.

Do we have a proper learning environment?

The project your consultant is engaged in will not be the last time your organization needs to work through a challenging opportunity.  Can you find a consultancy that can help you improve your internal bench strength for future problem solving?  This single facet could possibly be even more valuable than the solution to the immediate need!

The Traits Great Consultants Possess

Not all consulting firms will be able to provide solutions to this list of considerations.  However, there are certain traits you can look for which will  help ensure at least some of them. 

Reliability:  It’s an old-fashioned notion, but we believe that doing what you promise and promising only what you’ll do are important in any profession.

Attention to Detail:  The old saying is true; ‘If a person cannot be trusted in the small things, how can they be trusted with the big ones?’  In consulting this olds true from the way an opportunity is approached to the quality of the finished written report.

Resourcefulness:  Find a consultant that is flexible and capable in a variety of situations.  You are hiring a consultant because you don’t have the internal band-width to address the question(s) internally.  Resources are already limited.  The consulting firm you hire must be able to produce outstanding results working on their own.

An inquisitive mind that sees beyond the obvious:  Its sometimes happened in our experience that the challenges we have addressed for our clients were not the ones they originally considered.  By seeing past the client’s own bias and perspectives we were able to ask different questions that ultimately led to the right conclusions and allowed us to generate better results.

For fifteen years, Word 4 Asia has been helping our clients to address a variety of challenging opportunities.  In fact, it seems that our environment has only become more interesting and challenging with the passing of time.  We’re proud of the contributions we make toward our clients objectives. Have you got a need we can help you address?  We’d love to talk.  You can reach Word 4 Asia by emailing Dr. Gene Wood at

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