Before beginning a consulting engagement, be able to answer the following questions on behalf of your customer (adapted from Dangerous Company, by James O’Shea and Charles Madigan):
1) Why are you doing this? What do you want to achieve?
2) Do I need outsiders to help reach this goal? Don’t forget to assess the brilliance within your own company before you go trying to buy some from outside.
3) If I hire a consulting company, which employees will they send? Make it a part of the contract.
4) What will it cost? (And how long will it take?) Avoid open–ended arrangements and vague promises. Base payments on performance and on your satisfaction. If the task involves high risk, make certain the consulting company is sharing in the risk, not just in the rewards, of the relationship.
5) Never give up control. The best consulting engagements do not take over operation, they complement them.
6) Don’t be unhappy for even a day. If you sense something is going wrong, confront it immediately and demand repairs.
7) Beware of glib talkers with books. Insist on tailor–made consulting engagements that recognize the unique nature of your business.
8) Value your employees. One of the most common complaints about consultants is that they talk down to the locals or ignore their ideas. You are buying intelligence, not arrogance.
9) Measure the process. Make certain you have your own internal measure of how a procedure is progressing.
10) If it’s not broke, don’t try to fix it. It is in the consulting company’s interest to find trouble where you see calm waters.