Businesses of all shapes, sizes, and organizational structures often decide to outsource a project or a set of tasks to a consultant. Elaine Fogel, Stanford Social Innovation Review, offers her own advice from her lessons learned about hiring consultants for nonprofits, however, much of what she outlines is applicable to for profit companies as well:
"1. Don’t hire your board president’s second cousin once removed.
Avoid hiring anyone related to, or good friends with, a board or staff member, unless the referral came from a trusted source outside your organization. When looking for a consultant, a good starting place is a professional association. For example, if you need a marketing consultant, check with your local chapter of the American Marketing Association.
2. Don’t expect consultants to work for free.
It’s unfair to expect consultants to work for free just because you have nonprofit status.
3. Look for consultants who conduct themselves professionally.
There are certain characteristics that speak to the credibility of a consultant’s company, such as how the consultants present themselves. Check for how consultants present their proposals and credentials. If they send their information in a casual e-mail, without attaching bios, materials, or official quotations, they may not behave professionally in other domains, such as representing your organization to outside vendors, colleagues, and partners.
4. Treat consultants as partners.
When treated as partners, consultants are often more generous with their experience, expertise, and objectivity. Another way to show appreciation to your regular consultants is to pay them according to their terms. And if you’re satisfied with your consultants’ work, why not refer them? When you promote your consultants, you gain a formidable ally.
5. A consultant’s work is useful only if you use it!"
Please click here to view Elaine Fogel’s whole article from Stanford Social Innovation Review.