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Core Values Underpin Effective Screening Processes

The process for finding a consultant should be as rigorous as the process for hiring the best employee for the job. While legislation establishes hiring requirements for employees, companies often fall short when making hiring decisions. Managers that measure candidates by educational credentials and skill sets rather than a mix of talent, strengths, aptitude, and values stack the deck against the company. The intangibles these mangers overlook form the basis of thriving cultures and high performing teams.

The same can be said for finding professional services firms that will help you excel. Consultants that spend a lot of time within your walls have a high degree of influence on company culture. How do you assess whether or not a consultant will be a good cultural fit? If you base professional services decisions on price alone, then you’ll set yourself up for  disappointing outcomes.

Customer-centric Proposals—The First Clue

A contractor’s proposal gives a sneak peek at the quality of the relationship you will have should you ink a deal. Case and point, does the proposal focus on how they’ll address your needs or simply provide a long list of capabilities? Bob London, President of London, Ink has a great drive time tip about how to measure the customer-centricity of a proposal.

London’s word count quotient offers a smart, simple way to assess the contractor’s active listening skills.

10 More ‘Fit’ Tips

A rigorous screening process identifies consultants and professional services firms that will be invested in your success. The following 10 tips work together to help ensure you spend time working to produce expected results rather than pulling out your hair in frustration with quality issues, project overruns, and late deliveries. Find the right fit by:

  1. Defining the problem you want to solve before starting the search process
  2. Learning enough about the subject so you can see through BS
  3. Screening for cultural fit—including chemistry and common values
  4. Assessing alignment of business philosophies and processes
  5. Evaluating communication—are you on the same wavelength?
  6. Measuring responsiveness—do you get what you need when you need it?
  7. Understanding exactly what you’re buying—scope is a critical success factor
  8. Keeping scope creep at bay—rigorously
  9. Discovering whether the contractor cares as much about success as you do
  10. Thinking of the contractor as an integral part of your team

When used together, the guidelines clarify which consultants will help you achieve stellar results and which ones will simply chip away at the deliverables. It’s a given that if you have problems before the signing on the dotted line, you’ll have a lot more problems in the execution phase and disappointing results. Doing your homework pays off every time.

A modified version of this post first appeared in Modern DC Business on August 13, 2012.

© 2012. All rights reserved.

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