There is always a certain degree of risk when you decide to hire a consultant or consultant company. You can minimize this risk when you subscribe to one of the top outsourcing services. Professional and exclusive memberships do an excellent job in attracting the right caliber of consultant to meet the demanding needs of their clients, including their own verification of references.
However, human nature dictates that some consultants may not be totally accurate when bidding for project assignments and will require you to conduct due diligence when selecting the right consultant.
For example, the consultant may have just recently joined an online service and have yet to prove their worth and track record, but they may still have the necessary skills and talent to deliver.
As with any new person onto your team, conduct a full check on consultant’s references as part of your selection process. Eliminate those consultants from your list or ask for clarification when the results of your checks do not match the information provided by the consultant.
Interviews can be an effective way of gathering information and seeking clarification, and when completed, checking consultant references should be your next step. You may not be able to conduct face-to-face interviews with prospective consultants and even if you can, interviews alone may not be enough to determine a consultant’s track record. Online interviews can be even more challenging.
Reference checking is the only meaningful way of verifying the track record of the consultants you are considering for your project. You will be able to gather valuable information such as work ethic, interpersonal skills, project management skills, meeting deadlines, keeping within budget and so on.
How To Gather And Verify The Information
As part of their proposal, experienced consultants know the importance of providing verifiable references or testimonials. Many will also provide a full resume.
When checking the information you have been given…
o Ask for the relevant information with which you can contact the consultant’s previous clients. Raise a warning flag as to the accuracy of the proposal if the information is not forthcoming.
o Seek permission first before contacting the consultant’s current or latest client. Use your discretion here as this client may not be aware that the consultant has contacted you.
o Ask the consultant for a full resume, if this is the consultant’s first proposal and there is no track record. Ask their permission to contact previous clients (or employers) with whom the consultant has worked and to whom he/she directly reported.
o Check that references include at least one point of contact to who the consultant reported directly. Ask follow-up questions and seek clarification when this information is missing.
Successful and positive working relationships between clients and consultants take a certain mindset and chemistry. Unfortunately, not every project or contract will end happily. Take every opportunity to gather feedback on the consultant’s interpersonal skills as well as the more obvious project management skills.
You decided to hire a consultant as the most effective way of achieving your goals. Choosing the right one is therefore, essential.