Recognizing your company needs help is only the first step in the change process. Next comes the journey to discover exactly what needs to change and how you will fix the issues at hand. Depending on your company’s size, bandwidth and resources, you may need some outside help to augment your internal review.

So how do you find, vet and hire a consultant who will work alongside your team to uncover and implement lasting change? In this blog post, we’ll break down the process of hiring a third-party consultant by showing you what to look for when making this important decision.

The Value of a Third-Party Consultant

You may be asking yourself if you need to hire outside help. The value of a consultant provides an often an immeasurable investment. With a consultant you get:

An outside viewpoint. It’s easy to be blinded and mired in the details when you work in a company day in and day out. A consultant brings a fresh set of eyes to the table. They can often diagnose issues those working in the company did not even notice.

Added credibility. When speaking to your Board or even your floor employees, the ability to say “we brought in an outside professional and they recommended XYZ to address our issues” lends credibility to the often tough changes ahead.

Knowledge from other industries. Leaders are usually very competent in their product or service market. But, they can be unaware of new processes and technologies in either their field or a related one. Experienced consultants have seen a wide range of challenges and solutions in a variety of situations. They bring this knowledge to your organization.

Finding the Right Consultant

The best place to start when looking for a consultant is the list of trusted individuals or teams you’ve worked with in the past. You already have familiarity with each other, making them a low-risk option for your business. The next best thing is to ask individuals you trust for their recommendations. If your networks don’t turn up any viable options, look online for consultants with specific expertise in your field or area of need. This is often the least desirable way to find a consultant because it takes more time and therefore money. But, it can lead to good outcomes if you vet your potential partners well.

Vetting and Hiring a Third-Party Consultant

Background, performance and achievements play a very important role in selecting the right assistance to solve your problem.

Look for problem solvers who have experience in the areas you consider critical to the problems within your company. Take the following three steps to determine the consultants’ potential effectiveness:

  1. One-on-one meeting: Don’t underestimate the power of chemistry. If you have a solid relationship and feel chemistry with the team and how they work, you’re more likely to improve the overall effectiveness of your results and process.
  1. Résumé review: Pedigree factors into the results you can expect from a consultant. Individuals with exposure and experience working with large companies have knowledge that may not be readily available to those who have only worked with small or midsize companies.
  1. Thorough reference check: When checking with previous clients, talk both with the leader who hired the consultant as well as those who worked directly with him or her. Try to uncover not only how the person/team was to work with, but specifics on the types of problems they solved and the financial impact on the company.

Once you’ve selected a consultant that meets your needs, have an in-depth discussion about the work that will be done and the process they will follow. Set realistic targets and timelines for each phase of the engagement as well as ROI. Then get it all in writing as a scope of work followed by a letter of agreement.

When change is needed, it’s important to have the right team in place to put together the best solution to move your company forward. The combination of internal and external resources often leads the best solution. When selecting a third-party consultant, follow the steps above to find, vet and hire a consultant that will help lead your company to profit through change.