Many organizations today have come to realize that they are facing many challenges that need to be addressed if their organization is to remain viable, and that timely and decisive action is necessary. Many also realize that they need to look outside beyond their organization’s internal resources if they are going to truly address their needs in a coherent and cohesive manner. They generally realize that they must seek the services of a qualified consultant, but while they are correct that they need help, they often are ill- prepared to make informed decisions regarding what precisely they require, or which consultant best serves their needs.
1. The number one requirement for a consultant is absolute integrity. That means that those involved in hiring the consultant have to feel comfortable with that individual. These individuals must be careful not to be swayed by fancy rhetoric, or some sort of reliance on techno- jargon. A rule of thumb should be that you should stay away from any consultant who cannot explain what he does and would do, and how, in non- technical, plain talk!
2. Don’t decide upon a consultant solely on the size of his fee! Ask how the fee is determined, and how does that fee relate to what he’ll do for them. Run away from any consultant who says something to the effect, “You get what you pay for.” Any consultant you hire should be willing to guarantee that he will save and/ or make the organization MORE than his fee! This can be in a combination of savings, new revenues generated, efficiencies, etc., but must be measurable. Otherwise, it is difficult to justify the services of a consultant.
3. Don’t get overly concerned with the governance of an organization. While certain governance models seem to work better for certain organizations than others do, it is never the governance that needs to be addressed first. Organizations should prioritize their goals, visions, and the relevance of their Mission Statement. They should examine how they communicate with their members, donors, and sponsors. They should look at their attrition rate and determine both why someone remains a member, and why members, sponsors and donors are lost. It is almost always easier and less costly to retain members, donors and sponsors, or to reinstate former ones, than to acquire new ones! A quality consultant should be able to not only develop a Strategic Plan for an organization, but develop an ongoing methodology for a group to continue strategically planning on an ongoing basis!
Never hire any consultant who is unwilling to guarantee his results to be cost effective, in terms of both his fees and the costs to the organization. Ask potential consultants how they envision ramifications of taking certain actions in terms of potential risks, etc, and how the group should address and safeguard against those potentialities. The consultant you seek should also be able to predict what might occur if actions are not taken, and the organization continue as is, based on trends, other groups and his expertise. Make sure that your consultant more than pays for himself (not in general terms, but in measurable ways)!