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Advice on Hiring a Consultant

HCS Consulting Newsletter

April 2004

Consultant's don't make front page news very often. When they do it's frequently bad. The February 23 Crain's Chicago Business carried an article discussing customer complaints about International Profit Associates based in Buffalo Grove. The Crain's article can raise questions about the wisdom of engaging outside help from service providers of any type. Readers of this newsletter know that I usually address topics in the areas of Purchasing and Inventory Management. I trust that you will allow me to devote this edition of my newsletter to thoughts regarding the Crain's article as well as ideas on how to hire consultants.

What should you do when considering the use of any independent consultant or small firm? There are two organizations whose members fall into this category. The Institute of Management Consultants is a national organization with a very active Chicago chapter. www.imcusa.org. The Midwest Society of Professional Consultants is a Chicago-based organization whose members are independent consultants headquartered in this area. www.mspc.org. There are many consultants, me included, who are active in both groups. Both groups have a written code of ethics that include the following points:

  • Members will accept only those assignments which they are qualified to undertake and which we believe are in the best interests of the client.
  • Relationships are built on trust between the client and the consultant.
  • We charge fees based on the nature of the services to be performed and in relation to our experience and capability.
  • We will be truthful and forthright in reporting observations and making recommendations based on the facts of the situation.
  • We will develop realistic and practical solutions to client problems.

If you want to read the entire codes, visit the websites mentioned above. The IMC website also includes information on how to obtain a booklet titled "How to Hire a Consultant." I believe that members of both groups would agree with my own philosophy that, as a management consultant, your reputation is the primary asset of your business and it would be extremely foolish to ever put it at risk for the sake of a questionable assignment.

As a "purchasing" person, I encourage you to think of any purchase of services as just that, a purchase where you need to understand your supplier's capabilities and its track record with other customers. If you are considering a consultant who is not a member of the organizations mentioned above, the points covered in both of the ethics statements should be discussed with the prospective consultant. All consultants, like any service providers, can supply references from past engagements.

Thank you for reading this newsletter. As I hope you can tell, I feel strongly that anything that might impact my reputation or relationship with you needs to be addressed openly and promptly. I am sure you feel the same way about your own company. As always, if you have any questions or comments, I would like to hear from you. Please feel free to forward this newsletter to others who might have an interest. If you do not want to receive this newsletter, send a reply to that effect. All rights reserved.