Sooner or later, every Manager or business owner there comes a time when he headed the business arise:
Tasks, the successful solution of which may depend the future of the company. For example, the expansion of the business through international expansion, implementation of new management accounting system, preparing the company for IPO, etc.
Problems, to solve which it is not possible for a long period of time. For example, consistently high % of failures and customer complaints on service, regularly exceeding the planned budgets of ongoing projects etc.
As a rule, companies are trying to solve these challenges on their own, without engaging external contractors. But when:
The cost of failure in solving a particular task is too high.
Nobody here is competent to solve the problem or problems.
The efforts made have not yielded the expected results, the owners and top management decide to enlist the help of professional consultants.
A study of the company Astarta-Tanit by the order, the EBRD has demonstrated that the management consulting market in Ukraine as of 2010 are actually can be considered formed. More than 1.5 thousand Ukrainian and international companies offer their services for solution of problems and challenges clients in different business sectors ranging from it and legal, ending environmental consulting. The majority of Ukrainian companies started their activities after 2000.
How to choose a company that will not add waste to your table for the big money, but really, solve the problem, efficiently carry out the task?
The selection of the consultancy companies, concrete consultant is not an easy task, which requires a serious, balanced approach, because we are talking about Your money and, most importantly, time that can be missed in case of not getting the desired result.
The process of choosing a consulting company can be presented in a fairly straightforward sequence of steps:
Step 1. Determine the goal of treatment to the consulting company.
Step 2. To determine the parameters of possible consulting projects that your time and budget execution.
Step 3. Make a list of consulting companies (3 to 5) for treatment.
Step 4. Send a proposal on the formation of commercial offers.
Step 5. To evaluate the approach to engagement of a consulting company with You, business proposal, work to identify problems, focus on results, the parameters of price/volume/duration of the project.
In this article we offer to owners and managers of businesses a number of tips for choosing the consulting firm and how to avoid possible risks associated with this process, in particular such elements as Step 4 and Step 5.
1. Before you start searching for a consulting company to accurately define the objectives of the proposed project.
In practice this means the following: if You do not know what You want, consulting firms will gently try to impose their opinions about it and explain what You should want to frame their services and expertise Cool
The paragraph referred to in the first place, determine the outcome of an interaction with a consulting company, preferably expressed in financial and quantitative terms, depending on the specifics of the task. Remember, any result should be presented in 3 characteristics:
Quality – what exactly do You want to receive as a result of the consulting project?
Schedule – when You want to get happiness from consultants?
Money – how much are You willing to pay to obtain happiness (the maximum threshold)?
The first question is most important. Maximum specify precisely the result of the project in the context of the problems that you solve. In this case, use the wording in the form of a completed action. Example of incorrect objective of treatment: to increase sales. Correct example purpose of treatment: the level of sales of the company increased by 20% before 1 January 2013. More specifically would sound: «increased level of sales across product categories of women’s and children’s shoes at 20% in the city of Kiev.» The clearer You formulate the task, the goal of the project, the easier it will be to use our following tips.
2. Choose a consulting company with proven and relevant experience.
Nothing says consulting companies as its clients and projects. Answer the following questions:
did the consulting company experience with the industry?
how many projects are consulting projects in the industry was realized by the company?
how big were the projects?
do you have a consulting company of written recommendations from clients with similar projects?
can the consulting company provide personal contacts between people, representatives of customers from whom you can obtain verbal confirmation of the project and to discuss the real level of job satisfaction of consultants?
Of course, for some projects there is no need to branch the experience, but, in General, this experience should be a «+» in piggy Bank «for» this company. Main principle: set the maximum number of questions to the consultants about their experience in similar projects and results. If consultants are not willing to talk about the specifics will wary and be on attentive.
3. Evaluate the formal recognition of the competence of consultants.
Today in Ukraine there is a sufficient number of professional associations, including consultants (Ukrainian Association of management consultants, the Ukrainian Association for quality, Ukrainian marketing Association, European business Association, etc.), involving about half of the market. Membership in these organizations serves as confirmation that the consulting company or consultant, is recognized as such which did indeed provide consulting services. AND NO MORE. Real formal confirmation of competences of consultants takes place at the individual level: certificates in project management PMI (PMP), IPMA (level A-E), certificate in Finance (ACCA) and others. Definitely something that people memorized the PMBOK (body of knowledge project management) has not said that he will be able to bring value to You, but the fact remains that the knowledge he has.
4. Choose those who say «let’s see how we can help» instead of «we can offer You.»
Consultant is a doctor. If the doctor after 5 minutes of conversation invites You to take a pill (before diagnosis and determine the causes of the disease) is a trading agent of a pharmaceutical company. The same situation and in consulting. Rate the approach of consultants to solve Your challenges at the stage of initiation of the project:
does the consulting company to grasp the essence of Your appeal, to determine the motives, goals, Your objectives?
find out whether the consulting company, what steps You have taken to solve the problem?
puts the other partner consultants conversation after a superficial review of Your issues into the mainstream of consultants that they can provide or ensure a clear communication Plan (rate this item with «-«, if «Yes»)?
how open partner consultants in conversation with You: does he on possible causes of the problem at first glance at the situation in the company?
requests any additional information You have about the company, the environment, the current situation?
Consultants who are focused on themselves, as a rule, it is unlikely that after receiving the advance will change the orientation on the solution to Your problems.
5. Choose those who are focused on «implementation» and not «creation».
People consulting is a creative personality. Consulting services of hard tangible, its results are often difficult to translate into precise financial figures thanks to the combination of many influencing factors. The combination of creative people + creative result = truly explosive mixture, because 80% of offers on the Ukrainian market in the sphere of consulting sound approximately so: «having conducted a comprehensive evaluation of the strategic potential of the enterprise on key business areas… analyzing the system of managerial decisions in the sphere of… we recommend you to create… to reorganize… to convert… to optimize… with the result that the company will receive a significant increase in productive indicators of activity…». Sounds nice? Beautiful! Might not sound good, because they write the creative people Wink.
And how should it sound? Material and efficient! It consultants should answer clearly the following questions:
what tangible product, the company will receive the exit counseling? A tangible product of the work of the counselor is report. Verify that it will contain the report? In what form are the reports submitted?
what performance indicators Your business will be modified?
how to implement the recommendations provided by the consultants?
what responsibility, in addition to reputational, shall the consulting company, in case of unsuccessful implementation of the proposed solutions?
Remember: a consulting company should be focused on implementation of solutions – the one who says «Let me do it!», has greater confidence in the correctness of his decision. A company that is not focused on the implementation of its solution is a group of scholars of business, not a consulting company.
Follow our simple tips, You can find real professionals who will solve the problems of Your business and will accelerate significantly.