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So, you’re getting ready to hire a consultant or researching potential partners for a project? The vetting process to find the best consultant is very different than hiring an employee. When an organization hires a new employee, there is usually an expectation that they will require certain training and a period of time to get adjusted to their new position. A new hire’s performance curve should be gradual and predictable where a consultant needs to be able to show immediate return on investment. Before you hire a consultant, here are five questions to ask: 

  1. How long have you been working on projects like mine?

Just because you’re talking to someone who’s a professional consultant, don’t assume experience. Healthcare consulting is one of the world’s fastest growing industries and, as such, there is a saturation in new professionals. You may be looking for tactical support which wouldn’t require years of chiseled experience, but make sure that your goals align with the experience girth of the person/people you’re hiring

  1. How many projects will you manage at one time?

A critical question that often goes forgotten. Consulting firms drive revenue based on their number of billable hours and those hours aren’t capped at 40 hours-per-week. Do you want a consultant who’s managing 8 other engagements simultaneously? Unless you’re contracting for a six-figure project, it’s unlikely that you’ll find a firm who can allocate all of their time to you, but understanding where you stack up on their priorities is important in establishing a sound working partnership.

  1. What can I expect on a weekly basis?

Communication. Communication. Communication. No one wants surprises after the contract is signed, so having these transparent dialogues during the proposal period is critical. What can I expect from my consultant? If you’re going to write a check, there should be clearly defined and measurable project goals that include communication milestones built-into the agreement.

  1. How will you get up to speed on our organization?

Your organization or agency has processes and systems in place that may not seem novel to you, but will be new for any consultant coming in to support your business goals. The orientation phase of a new engagement will allow the consultant(s) to begin to understand how you work from the inside-out. Don’t expect this time to go unbilled. You are getting an expert and will need to pay that expert to learn your way of doing business. Because you’re paying for them to learn, make sure there’s an understanding around how long this will take. How much of your limited resources will be used for orientation vs. actually completing the project.

  1. How do you bill?

This should probably fall into the no-brainer category, but it’s easy to get too caught up in the project scope and the bottom-line that you forget to discuss payment process. Most consulting agencies should have a standard process that they use for billing and they should be happy to share that with you prior to signing onto an engagement.

As healthcare organizations continue to operate on tighter-and-tighter budgets, we understand the financial risk in bringing on a consulting agency. Spyglass would love to talk to you about your concerns and discuss strategies to mitigate risk when engaging outside help. Please contact us anytime at 610-799-7400 or