Over the years, I have had mixed results with hiring consultants for various jobs. I used to think that if they were referred, then that was good enough but that's not as consistent as I would like. Does anyone have a high success rate with consultants and if so, how do you pick them?
The hardest consultant to locate is the first. But once you have that one, you can use chained referrals, which is how I locate additional consultants.
I found one consultant who produced high quality work at a decent price for web application development. He then referred me to a graphic design company for building sleek interfaces. Since I liked his work, and knew that he wouldn't tolerate shoddiness in any of his providers, I checked the company out, and now I've got two companies that I can use consistently.
Referrals from associates you trust is a good source of insight into consultants. But that's just a first step.
Ask the consultant how they approach a project and listen to see how that would fit your style.
Ask where and why they have had client expectation gap issues in the past and what they did to fix these.
Ensure that you have clarity in your expectations and provide clear written instructions to the consultant.
Walk through the statement of work together to ensure you understand things the same way.
Put a strong focus on specific attributes of deliverables - function, schedule, and price. Have frequent check points to make sure the consultant is moving in the right direction.
You can relax the intensity of the "micro-management" as you build a more trusted relationship.
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