Sunday, November 4, 2007

14 tips for deadline-missing consultants

Outsource many projects and value paid professional assistance - work with significant number of consultants. One current project involves design. I didn't like a change from an initial version provided that loved ... consultant was totally, and I mean totally, put off by that. Even complained about how quickly I gave feedback. Is one of us funding this relationship?
Most consultants are professional, accommodating, results-oriented, punctual ... but not all. Those outside association world can miss point that association executives may be accountable to others for approval, and have deadlines or significant timing issues - e.g., pre-scheduled meetings and presentations.

14 tips for consultants:

1. Get cost/budget estimates and proposals in by client deadline - whole project at risk for underfunding or not getting approved at all if can't get right numbers, on time.
2. Payment will be according to terms in agreement - stick to that schedule.
3. If unanticipated factors delay or change costs - communicate immediately - not after you make decision. Client answer may be no-go.
4. Sign-off is condition of a project - don't whine or send angry email if you don't get your way - be professional.
5. Important to respect one who signs the contract - trying to work around client with others has likely never worked for any consultant. An okay by unauthorized person not an okay.
6. If get feedback, and change requests, pay attention. Client shouldn't have to ask for same change over and over. Ignoring request hoping client forgets is bad strategy.

7. It's not about you - ultimately client reputation and organization at stake - yours isn't their primary concern. Leave client/project out of portfolio if you don't like it.
8. Watch out for client's best interest when hire subcontractors for part of project - ensure all rights retained for client, not subcontractor.
9. You were selected for talent - we both know that. You're getting paid, not doing a favor - skip arrogance as sours relationship.
10. Client likely knows their industry better than you do. Listen. You may not get agreement on everything you want for very valid reasons. Like it or not, client will make final decision.
11. Ignoring phone messages and emails when delays adds to disfavor client will have with you.
12. Do not miss deadlines. Ever. That alone could stop client from hiring you again.
13. Are you planning to put me on client list? Think about what client might say.
14. Word of mouth marketing applies to consultants too. Might never be mentioned, or worse, may find lose opportunities. I believe I'm absolutely huge asset to consultants who I like. Know lots of people.

Note to association execs: Getting quote late often sign everything else will be late too. Some people just not timely or considerate of deadlines. However, getting quote on time not sign remainder will be timely.
Because work with so many excellent consultants (95% - no issues) it's clear (and really annoying) when working with any consultant who lacks understanding or care of client needs, requests and timing issues. Some consultants surely have long list of why don't like clients [I'm paid consultant sometimes too, so know] - but if profession you chose, either decide not to work with most clients or figure out how to satisfy client - without angst. Deliver on time.

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