Evaluating Consultant Fit
Evaluating consultant fit, similar to hiring staff, is an art with some science mixed in. It is advisable to interview a minimum of three consultants and ask for workplans from the ones you may potentially like to work with.
In the interview process, you’d want to gauge whether a potential consultant:
- “Gets” your organization – what you’re about, your context, and some basic understanding of your field of work
- Demonstrates a grasp of what your organization needs are in this specific proposed project
- Is able to listen deeply to understand, holding healthy dosages of compassion and circumspection
- Will be able to connect with your staff, board, and external stakeholders because s/he will be representing your organization to an extent
- Has demonstrated expertise and success with others that may be similar to what you’re asking her/him to do with your organization
Next, for each potential consultant, assess them a score (1 to 5) based on your most important criteria. Here’s a sample scoring sheet:
Areas of Fit
|Consultant||Experience in/with the Social Sector||Culture, Values, Chemistry||Overall Impressions||References||Total Score|
Finally, look at the quality of their proposal as an indication of their deliverables, as well as their rationale and thinking:
- Compare consultant workplans; do they talk more about themselves, look like a cookie cutter proposal, or does the workplan actually paraphrase what they understand to be the particular needs of your organization?
- How well do they write? Is the proposal succinct, without jargon, and clear?
- Are the estimated number of days proposed reasonable? Are activities outlined in a sequential flow that makes sense?
- Do the deliverables/products/expected outcomes align with what you outlined in the discussion?
After asking these questions and going through this assessment, you should have a better sense of which candidate would be the best fit for your organization and project needs.