Don’t Let Your Consultants Leave You Hanging

We call them “deck and dash” firms—consultants who dazzle you with strategy, conceptual models, and slick slides…then wish you luck and head for the door. Now what?

Maybe that’s what you want, but at least be prepared. Make sure that they leave you in a place where you can get the benefits of your investment.

Before signing the contract, here are the questions you should ask:

  1. What will the business outcomes be? How will your work translate to benefits for us, specifically? It’s important to hear stories about their other clients, but the focus should be on your business. How does the work connect to your strategies and integrate with other initiatives in your organization?
  2. What has your team learned from similar implementations? Implementation informs strategy and design. Even if you are paying them to build deliverables and then hand them off to you to implement, you need consultants who regularly roll up their sleeves and help their clients launch. Consultants learn and sharpen from that experience.
  3. To what degree will you involve the business leaders impacted by this change? How? Many consultants like to touch base a few times to gather information, then go away and create — leading to a grand reveal of the solution. That’s fun and dramatic, to be sure, but it’s wrong. You need consultants who work with key members of your business, to ensure the solution is right for you, create momentum, and help the business plan for launch.
  4. What will the deliverables look like? Will they include implementation plans, timelines, and estimates? Ask to see samples from similar projects. Imagine being left with that deliverable. Could you use it? Would your business know how to get the benefits you expect?
  5. What does your last day look like? How will you transition your work to us? What you’re looking for here is their involvement in implementing the solution and your readiness to take it forward.
  6. What if we have questions after you finish the engagement? You need consultants who are invested in your success. If your people are sincerely confused or unprepared to use the deliverables the consultants built, then their work isn’t done. Make sure they commit to an ongoing advisory relationship to support what they delivered for you.

Paying for ideas, plans, and strategies might be right for your business. Just make sure you have a clear picture of your life after the consultants are gone.

Here’s how Emerson addresses the six questions:

  1. We helped a major university’s IT department focus on the outcomes they needed. Click here to read more.
  2. We helped a large U.S. government agency launch their HR strategy. Click here to read more.
  3. We worked with the largest hospital system in Missouri on a custom approach. Click here to read more. 
  4. We built solid implementation plans for one of the best-known retail brands in the world. Click here to read more.
  5. We fully transitioned our work and expertise to a large pharmaceutical company. Click here to read more.
  6. We continued to support a business technology corporation with ongoing advice. Click here to read more.