Five Guidelines to Finding the
How to find the right Consultant?
My rule of thumb for choosing a
consultant is simple. I call it the Doctor test.
How does it work? When I need to
go to a doctor, I research his credentials, his experience and try
to learn more about him. I try to gauge how up-to-date they are,
if the testing equipment is the latest etc. Once I am face to face
with her, I try to determine if I am comfortable her, how he arrives
at the initial prognosis. If I am treated as a client or as a statistic.
Then I ask myself, would I feel comfortable allowing this person
to intervene and make decisions about my health. What do I have
to lose if I make the wrong decision?
The same logic should apply when
you chose a consultant. Management consultants are used to intervene
in your business, to solve a problem or to improve a condition.
These days there are an abundance
of consultants. You meet them everywhere. If you are a business
owner of manager, finding the right “consultant” who
can solve your unique business problem might be difficult. So, how
do you find the right consultant with the right set of skills, expertise
and experience to match your businesses needs?
1. Do you really need a consultant?
Based on your need, do you need a consultant, or are you seeking
business advice, or are you in need of board level oversight? Or
none of the above?
Each category of expertise represents a different way of answering
If you need somebody to help you identify a problem and devise a
solution, then a management consultant is the right person to turn
to. If you are in need of general business advice, as to how to
do something, then a business adviser is the right choice. If you
need to have a person to work with you for a longer term, helping
to oversee and give direction to your business, a shadow or alternative
board level adviser may be needed. If the solution to the problem
that you have is obvious, and you are sure it is the right solution
you may need to bring in outside contractor to just help you with
2. Define your improved condition,
or where you want to be after the work is done
Where do you want to be after the consultant has finished her job?
Let’s say you want to increase profitability and market share.
How will you measure success? How will you get there, and is the
target really the real target?
3. Find a consultant that understands
Find a consultant that walks through your door with an open mind.
There are many consultants out there that have their own rigid standard
operating procedures manuals that they cannot deviate from. They
are like a one trick pony that can only perform that one trick.
But your business is unique, your business model is unique and your
key success factors are unique.
Find a consultant that can produce
a tailor made solution to your unique business needs. How? A good
starting point is to find a consultant that listens to you and offers
solutions once all relevant data has been gathered, the necessary
information regarding your business has been compiled, industry
and economy trends have been analyzed.
4. Give credit where credit is due
So now that you have researched a number of potential candidates,
there are a number of consultants that you have hand picked. They
may look equally qualified. You may like the experience of one,
the dynamic web page presentation of the other, the general “feeling”
of the third.
In choosing the right person, remember
my Doctor test. What is the professional level of achievement the
Doctor/consultant has achieved? Do they have a postgraduate degree?
Is he active in professional associations or industry groups? Are
they certified? (A certified management consultant is an individual
who has attained his CMC (Certified Management Consultant) designation,
awarded by the Institute of Management Consultants, awarded for
outstanding professionalism, experience and consulting ethics)
Regarding titles. Titles in general
are good. But for business, try not to go too “academic”.
Some of the PhD’s may be excellent in their natural habitat,
but when it comes to intervening in complex business problems, and
coming up with practical, actionable, cost efficient solutions they
may not be the best pick.
5. Work with your consultant
Try and provide the consultant with all the information that he
needs and give him freedom of movement in your premises. Relay to
the consultant, your needs, your expectations, and your worries.
Brainstorm with the consultant. Make sure they fully understand
your problem. In the intervention stage, make sure that you are
involved at the critical stages. Make sure that your managers and
employees do not try to derail the process by trying to pursue their
own “old” agendas.
General Tips to get the most out
of the management consulting process
Below are a number of suggestions
to get the most out of the management consulting process. If used
well, the management consultant will bring to the company, valuable
insights and will build value and wealth for your business.
• Always use the “we”
• Always keep an open mind
• Always try to learn from best practices knowledge of other
industries the management consultant will bring with him
• Always remember that the consultant is in the same boat
• Never say
• Never say “We already tried that”
• Never say “That won’t work”
• Never say” We are too small/big for that”
> Starting a
> Looking for
> Need financing?
> Need to get
your start-up going fast and build business?
need a business plan.
What is a business
plan? A business plan should be a document containing all your ideas
based on the opportunity that you see in a specific sector, translated
into how this opportunity could render you dollars and cents.
The business plan
might be a lengthy detailed document, outlining the future performance
of your business for the next five years; this is usually a minimum
requirement if you need to finance your business, or it might be
a simpler document, undertaking basic analyses to pinpoint opportunities
and threats, strengths and weaknesses, action plans that need to
be implemented, critical steps and timing that will play an important
role in your business, key success factors and problem areas.
Whatever your circumstance,
you will need some form of planning to guide you.
We have prepared
countless business plans over the last two decades. Here is a short
list of what your business plan should contain. A note of caution:
remember what Eisenhower said, “ The plan is nothing, planning
is everything” The business plan is but a document, and the
important fact still remains, that you have to build your business
on sound business fundamentals. Your business model has to be right.
You have to be right for the business; the business has to be right
Below is a list
of what a good business plan should include with brief descriptions:
1. The Executive
• Where do we want to go?
• What is the business going to do?
2. Company Description
• Type of company
• Company history
• Key personnel
3. Industry Analysis
• Economic analysis
• Industry analysis
• Market analysis
4. Target Market
• Who are you going to sell to?
• Who is the competition?
• How do you compare to the competition?
6. Strategic Position
and Assessment of Risk
• The strategy
• The Risk
7. Marketing Plan
& Sales Strategy
• How will you sell your product or service?
8. Operations Plan
• How is the company going to operate
• Critical success factors
9. Technology Plan
• What technological requirements do you have and how will
you fulfill these?
10. Management &
• Leadership of the firm
• Company structure and systems
• Key performance indicators and milestones
12. The Financials
• Detailed month by month financial forecast for the first
year, and annual forecast for the next three to five years
If you need to prepare
a business plan or need to gather information about your business
plan, we advise you to talk with a business adviser or management
consultant who can walk you through and assess the business basics
as well as the layout and presentation of your plan.
a Major Obstacle To Business?
Morale was high
at the US based contracting company. They had just been invited
to join a consortium of companies that had pre-qualified for a big
public works tender in Central Asia. The offer came via e-mail.
After concluding the initial round of correspondence with their
counterparts, a two man team made up of one senior engineer and
one business development exec were sent to Europe to meet up with
their potential partners and sign the consortium agreement.
The trip started
well, as they were well received by their hosts at the airport,
guided to their hotel and were pleased to see that a well planned
itinerary awaited them. Two mid- level managers took them out to
dinner that night, and a jovial relationship was established.
The next day, still
dazzled by the late night and effects of jet lag the US team met
with the senior execs of the consortium and gave a strong power
point presentation as to their capabilities, past business performance
and key deliverables. Everyone was all smiles at lunch, and things
were very cordial in the afternoon during the contract negotiations.
The US team e-mailed back the tentative consortium agreement late
afternoon and was treated to a special evening of entertainment
and fine dining “Asian” style by the corporate execs.
Next morning, they
received confirmation from the legal department at corporate that
the agreement was acceptable and that they could go ahead and sign.
The agreement was signed, pictures were taken and small gifts were
exchanged. After having generated so much good will in such a good
time, it was decided that the new consortium partners should visit
the government office which was organizing the tender in order to
introduce the US company.
Up to that time,
the whole process had been text book perfect. The meeting with the
government authorities went ahead as planned, but it was not possible
to gauge the results of the meeting from the US company’s
point of view. They had also received some conflicting news from
the Government officials. The pre-qualification for tender had been
cancelled, and the process would start over again.
Their new partners
assured them that this was a normal occurrence for this part of
the world. Other disturbing news started to trickle down as comments
of the need to make facilitation payments arose. The US team automatically
countered with their need to abide by the Corrupt Foreign Practices
Act, but their hosts assured them that it would be they who would
take care of things, not the American’s, but that the American’s
should know that such a arrangement had to be entered into as they
were a part of everyday life if you wanted to do business in this
part of the world.
The trip was concluded
with a lavish good bye dinner and further entertainment, “Asian”
style. The team was in a jovial mood when they arrived back in the
US and were congratulated by the CEO for their accomplishment.
Their Asian counterparts
meanwhile prepared for the new pre-qualification process and asked
for intensive documentation. A project team was established for
the Central Asia project and earnest work began to supply their
consortium partners with the necessary materials to win the pre-qualification
bid. At the same time hints that certain facilitation expenses were
being made to Government authorities were being relayed to the American
company over the phone. But, never in writing. After a while, these
vague remarks became very much clearer as their foreign partners
started to talk numbers.
The US stance was
the same. We cannot be involved, we don’t want to know about
Two months after
the signing of the consortium agreement, the new pre-qualification
bid was held, and their consortium failed to qualify.
Their Asian counterparts
blamed them in part for not assisting them in paying up the facilitation
fees, and claimed that they would have won had the size of the payment
been larger! They vowed to have the pre-qualification tender cancelled
and the process renewed. Which they actually managed to do! But
by this time, the American company had lost faith in their partners,
and having allocated resources freely against the promise of lucrative
rewards, decided to withdraw from the project.
The Asian partners
accused the American’s of being short sighted, inflexible,
and shallow. The American’s accused the Asian’s with
being untruthful, slow, and not results oriented. Both sides threatened
each other with law suits and asked for damages. Lawyers wrote letters
back and forth, but even they had problems communicating. The cost
of litigation would have been too expensive, so both sides refrained
from going to court, but wrote letters of complaint to their respective
gap between the cultures played an important role in how this project
went bad. Communicating across cultures can be extremely difficult.
What is the beginning for one culture can be the end for another.
Management Consulting offers “Cultural Leadership” coaching
programs to bridge the gap between cultures and to facilitate effective
communication with the aim of delivering results in the International
here for previous articles
ATN Management Consulting
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
PMB 168, 344 Grove Street,
Jersey City, 07302 NJ - USA
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