For the last several months, our team here at Prosperity Connection has had the great opportunity to work with the incredible folks at WIN. To be honest, after having engaged with other consultants in the past, we were all a bit weary to begin this process again. As a non-profit, a great consultant can help change the face of your organization, but the wrong consultant can be a waste of valuable time and resources.
Through our experience, we’ve learned a few tips to get the most out of your consulting experience.
1. Be transparent. Take the time at the front end to make sure you are on the same page – with your team and with the consultants. Prior to engaging with WIN, our team met on a regular basis to discuss our “ideal process flows,” i.e. what our ideal day to day workflow would look like. We shared those flows with our WIN consultants and walked through each step in the process. During that time, WIN asked a number of questions to ensure they understood our logic. In addition to sharing your organizational needs, consider sharing your expectations around the client-consultant relationship. Discuss your preferred mode of communication, frequency of interactions, and what roadblocks you anticipate.
2. Be engaged. I can’t say enough about maintaining active, ongoing conversation with your consultants. Quality feedback is a two-way street and is critical to the success of any project. That being said, it can deteriorate quickly if one party falls silent. Throughout our experience with WIN, I have met weekly with our consultants to stay up to date, weigh in on progress, walk through new features, and troubleshoot any unexpected issues. As a result, I’ll finish out our current contract with a comprehensive understanding of our outcomes as well as how we arrived at those outcomes.
3. Do your homework. Throughout the process, your consultant will inevitably ask you to complete certain tasks, test new features, etc. While this may seem like an added burden at times, it makes all the difference. Failing to do your homework may cause a delay in project completion, ultimately leading to dissatisfaction amongst both parties.
You may be thinking this sounds like a lot more work for you. After all, consultants are supposed to make our lives easier, not harder. Take a deep breath. Things can be clunky at first, but once you establish a solid working relationship with your consultant, you’ll learn that their efforts will take a lot off your plate and save you money in the long run.
Guest blog written by Abby Clavin, MSW, Assistant Director - Operations at Prosperity Connection in St. Louis, MO.