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- Define the project and the result you are aiming for; confirm how this will contribute to your overall business objectives.
- Consider whether you have (or should acquire) the in-house skills to carry out part or all of the project.
- Discuss the project with relevant employees; ask for suggestions and get their agreement to involving a consultant.
- Ask your local trade association or relevant body to recommend a list of suitable consultants with experience of similar projects.
- Choose a suitably skilled and experienced consultant from your shortlist and ask for a preliminary proposal based on your brief; amend the brief to incorporate any valid suggestions.
- Clarify roles and responsibilities for the consultant, employees and any other contractors involved.
- Identify key objectives; aim for specific, measurable targets but leave room for the consultant to suggest alternatives.
- Prepare an outline brief summarising the project, objectives, budget, timescales and in-house resources available to the consultant.
- Clarify any constraints on the consultant: for example, restrictions on disclosing confidential information or contacting customers.
- Agree a project schedule, including project completion and interim milestones; negotiate escape clauses for sub-standard performance.
- Negotiate fees; consider success fees or a fixed fee and clarify exactly how fees will be earned and how any expenses will be handled.
- Brief employees involved in the project; ensure they fulfil their responsibilities to maximise the consultant's effectiveness.
- Provide access to any necessary in-house information and resources.
- Maintain regular contact with the consultant; look for evidence of the work, monitor costs and review the project at each milestone.
- Watch for warning signs of any problems: for example, sub-standard work, missed deadlines or poor communication from the consultant, or low morale among the project team.
- Check that objectives have been met to the agreed standards before signing off any work or overall project completion.
- brief relevant employees and get their support
- use in-house skills where available
- set clear objectives and performance standards
- define clear roles and responsibilities for everyone involved
- set interim milestones
- monitor progress and tackle problems
- agree to open-ended projects without clear objectives
- amend the brief mid-project without agreeing new objectives and fees
- sign off unsatisfactory work
- become over-reliant on consultants - build in-house skills instead