There’s plenty of literature out there telling consultants how to get the most out of their customers, but what about the customer? What are the benefits of consultant engagements and how can you as the customer get the most out of them?
So what are the benefits?
Engaging with a consultancy gives you access to a wealth of expert knowledge that you might otherwise not have access to. You’ll gain access to tools and services, and efficient and robust solutions from the consultancy’s previous experience. A consultancy will challenge your ideas and help you to understand what you really need.
How can you realise these benefits?
There are many things to consider when engaging with a consultancy. In this post we will look at understanding your needs.
- Make sure you understand your own needs. What is the overall goal of the engagement? For example, the roll-out of a new system, or perhaps the resolution of a complex problem.
- Make sure you agree that these needs require an external influence in order to be fulfilled.
- Make sure you have the right people. Do you have a team of people that will be involved in the engagement, and does each person know their role? We will cover roles in more detail in the next blog in this series.
During the first consultant engagement
- Tell the consultancy what your needs are, and make sure they understand them. This is where preparation can really help. If you are clear on what you need, it will be much easier to ensure the consultancy understands exactly what you want. The most successful workshops we have run are the ones where the customer has a clear vision of what they want to achieve. Supporting documents, such as a business process flow diagram can be very useful.
- Listen to what the consultancy has to offer and make sure they will add value. Make sure the consultancy can provide skills and expert knowledge that will help fulfil your needs.
- Make sure the consultancy is challenging your ideas and helping to shape your requirements.
- Limit participants. Too many can cause confusion so again, make sure each person has a clear role, and look at assigning champions from each business area so they can feedback information about their team’s needs.
After the engagement
- A good consultancy will always provide feedback on your engagement to ensure your needs have been fully understood, so make sure you schedule a follow-up as you close the meeting. At Alscient we make sure to involve the customer at all stages of our engagements in order to ensure that the customer receives maximum benefit. We routinely schedule a follow up session after the first engagement to confirm understanding and ensure both parties are confident in the plan to move forward.
- As the customer you should consider holding an internal session where you can discuss if the consultancy is right for you.