Working with a Consultant

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Consulting is defined as a temporary relationship to provide assistance to a person, group, organization or community wanting to build their capacity, accomplish a task or achieve a goal. General Process for Working with a Consultant:

 

Selection process

  • Internally, clarify the project’s scope and the consultant’s role (be specific)
  • Send Request for Proposal (RFP) to potential consultants
  • Review proposals & eliminate those not to be considered
  • Check references of those to be considered
  • Learn from former clients about the individual’s style and approach
  • Hold interviews with candidates – clarify approach & style; will s/he provide what you need?
  • Make your selection

 

Internal conversations prior to first meeting with a consultant

  • Ensure you have involved the proper people from your organization
  • Discuss expectations of those involved
  • Discuss the time table
  • Develop a desired outcome

 

Initial meeting

  • Provide background information – don’t hold back
  • Exchange any necessary information to give a better synopsis of the problem or issue (documents, potential roadblocks, etc)
  • Learn from the consultant
  • Lay out a tentative plan
  • Schedule the next meeting

 

Maximize the experience

  • Do what you say you will
  • Communicate progress periodically to all stakeholders
  • Work with, not against, the consultant
  • Be open to develop and try new solutions
  • Enjoy the work
  • Appreciate the outside perspective
  • Don’t think of the consultant as staff
  • Avoid “scope creep” – keep focused
  • Stick to the written agreement  
  • Offer feedback to the consultant  

 

 

From Lukas, C.A. (2001) Consulting with Nonprofits: A Practitioner’s Guide. Saint Paul, MN: Amherst H. Wilder Foundation.