InfoWorld had a neat article a few days back called
7 dirty consultant tricks (and how to avoid them)
Those who run consulting firms should know about these and know that they are the best way to stay in business.
I wrote an response to this on my own web site more but thought I would share some of the immediate takeaways here:
1. If you (as a client) aren’t starting your project with a measurable result by a specific date, then you need to break your project INTO those results first. Otherwise, assemble an internal team and maybe ask for some guidance but keep the deliverables in mind at all times. If you don’t, it becomes a money pit.
2. I often look at my work as a consultant as being similar to a good plumber: if you want me to fix a problem, I’ll do it as quickly as possible so I can move onto the next problem. If you want me to re-design or identify possible improvements to your plumbing system, it will take longer but I’ll do it right.
3. Best thing to do is MEET with the actual team who will be doing the work.
4. When dealing with fixed prices,
I always think it’s in the best interest of the client to look at per-diems but with a cap. It allows the consultant their opportunity to shine through but also limits the company’s exposure.
We once had our floors done by a company who looked at the floor and said “about $1600 labour based on x/day”. By the end of the project, it was over $3400 because they didn’t account for it right. This was a per-diem project and I should have thought first to put a cap on it. At the end, they still tried to weasel out of finishing the work and left us with a half-ass job.
It’s an interesting article – typical of InfoWorld who often target consultants in their columns but it’s also an opportunity for consultants to identify and address them head-on, especially when dealing with new clients (who may read InfoWorld).