The Bobs – Office Space
As I mentioned in my first post I’ve been working as a Made2Manage Administrator for more than 10 years. However, even if you’ve been one of my regular readers, you may not be aware that I’ve also been an independent consultant for the last several years as well. Over the years I have worked with several Made2Manage employed consultants as well as independents.
Occasionally I get emails from clients asking me what to look for when hiring a consultant, so I’ve decided to discuss it here to help those of you who are facing what might be a daunting task. Below are some questions and issues you should address with possible candidates.
- Is the prospective consultant professional in his communication and manner? Computer geeks are notorious for lacking communication skills. You should be very aware of how your consultant communicates as the lack of these skills may hinder your projects. Communication skills are every bit as important as technical skills and harder to learn as well. The hilarious SNL skit, Nick Burns Your Company’s Computer Guy, illustrates how true this is.
- Is the prospect experienced? Do they have an impressive skill set? How well does that skill set fit your consulting requirements? Beware of hiring someone who specializes in only a couple of Made2Manage technologies as they will attempt to address your issues with that limited skill set. This can result in less than optimal solutions as they try to fill a round hole with a square peg. If your project requires coding and report customization, be sure to hire someone with VFP, SQL, VBA, and possibly FastForms experience. Additionally, if you’ve purchased an optional module such as M2M Advanced Reporting, you would want someone experienced with it as well.
- How quickly does the prospect return calls? Most consultants are not available 24/7 but the good consultants return calls within one day.
- Is your prospective consultant realistic in how he assesses your project? No consultant is perfect and I would warn you against anyone who promises the moon, or who seems too good to be true.
- What are the prospect’s rates, completion policies, and guarantees of work? Rates are not as important as a consultant’s policies on what is billable and what isn’t. For example, if quoted 4 hours of labor for a report customization, is that an estimate or is the cost not to exceed that amount? Upon delivery of code, are you billed additional hours for corrections required after testing on your system? Most of the consultants, as well as Made2Manage itself, bill for everything, including the time required to remove bugs from their code.
- Additionally, does this prospect offer free help such as with a blog or in the online forums? Can you call the consultant and ask a few quick questions without incurring consulting charges? Again, often the answer is no, and you will be charged in 15 minute increments.
- Does this prospect have examples of their work to show you prior to being retained by your firm? What have they actually done?
- Is the consultant willing to train your staff to perform some of these tasks in the future?
What questions/issues do you feel should be addressed with a prospective Made2Manage consultant?