The Consultant's Desk

The Consultant's Desk
Poring over the details on your behalf

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Consultant's Duties

One of the reasons a company (or an individual) seeks the services of a consultant is because there's so much on their plate that work is becoming counter-productive. Eventually, the realization manifests itself that someone with expertise in a unique area is needed in order to do the special project while the more routine things are kept on track in the normal flow of operations.

Being a consultant is a role that has many contradictions. While it involves being a person who cares very much about taking care of the needs of others, one needs to be discrete about allocating their energies. It is entirely possible to work on several projects simultaneously or have some at different stages while developing the next. But giving equal attention to every phone call, drop-in visitor, or shriek for help is not possible. The internal, as well as the public task master, needs to discriminate with regard to their time in order to stay focused and be the expert.

It is then the consultant's responsibility to take control of things and lead the client through each step of the process, from the initial consultation, parsing out the needs, determining whether there is a relationship, bringing forth the contract, developing the parts of the project, and generally keeping the client's life livable and under control. Actually, taking the reins puts sanity into the lives of everyone involved.

Call for Assistance

The ball starts rolling with the call for assistance. It's basically a conversation to determine whether you have the right players for the project. This the time when the consultant will be looking for answers to questions. What questions? Things like what is it you do? What do you do best? How do you go about doing this? What do you want to accomplish and why do you need me to help you do it? What have you done in the past? How did that work out?

Screening and Assessing the Needs

These questions serve several purposes both for the client and the consultant. This is a time when the consultant listens very carefully to what's being said and what's not being said. And in regard to the silence on certain topics, there's something being said by implication as to what's really going on and needs attention. The consultant serves as the independent observer who sees more of the picture because they are not part of the picture.

Asking for the Contract

Once the consultant has an idea of what's needed, it's time for them to take control by first outlining what can be done by this specialist. Milestones are worked out. And it's important for the consultant to speak up when the timing is not realistic or the materials too scant. Then the consultant asks the client for the contract that memorializes the terms and a retainer to start the work.

Taking Control

Because of the initial conversations and screening process, everyone has an idea of where they're going in order to reach the recommended solution. But the most important element here is that the consultant takes control of the situation and manages it from the very beginning of the discussions. It's one of the reasons the client reached out for assistance -- because there's so much going on that they've become distracted and have difficulty managing the priorities.

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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

i've seen your blog, and i assume that you are a real consultant. anyway i would like to ask you have a sample of a contract form. i doesn't need to have names on it. i just have to have it because of my thesis. it would be a big help if you may. thank you.

Yvonne LaRose, CAC said...

Thanks for asking about contracts. There are quite a few forms of contracts that can be found on the web. My website has links to two sites that are very useful. Please visit either or both of these pages:

Forms [Business and HR]
http://entrances.tripod.com/ceralibrary/id18.html

Recruiter Tools
Look for the heading "Tools"
http://entrances.tripod.com/ceralibrary/id17.html