If you are considering using a consultant to help guide and support your change project(s) it will be important to:
1. Discuss and agree within your business what specifically you want from the consultant.
For simplicity's sake I used to focus on the following aspects:
- Specification: What precisely are you wanting the consultant to do. This is normally expressed as "deliverables" ie the outcomes of the project rather than the tasks you want the consultant to undertake, however, these can be included too for clarity and a shared understanding between you and the consultant.
- Timescale: When do you want the project to start, what is the desired end date and the duration? How many days do you want the consultant to be on site? Do you want remote support too, if so what availability are you looking for?
- Budget: An approximate budget needs to be agreed and signed off internally. No doubt this will be discussed when you meet with consultants.
- Roles and Responsibilities: What role do you want the consultant to play? Your staff may be doing a lot of the project management in-house and you just want the consultant as an adviser. Alternatively you may want to be totally hands off and the consultant will act as the project manager. In the latter case you need to ensure that the role of your staff is agreed, ie what contributions will they be making to the project? Has the time off-the-job to make these contributions been agreed with line managers?
2. Who, within your company, will be responsible for managing the selection and procurement process? This should include responsibility for issuing the contract to the successful bidder and monitoring performance during the delivery period.
Who will be the principal point of contact for bidders who may want clarification or have questions before submitting their Expression of Interest (EoI)?
3. Agree what documentation you want to use. There are standard templates on the web you could use or you can design your own. As a minimum you should have:
- Tender Document: Setting out the Specification, Timescale, Budget
- Expression of Interest Form: To be completed by the consultants who want to bid for the work. A standardised template will help you compare each EoI.
- Contract: This should be agreed with your legal representative/Department and should be used when you award the contract to the successful consultant.
- Project Completion: This documents the fact that you are happy that the consultant has delivered what they were contracted to deliver and officially ends the contract period.
4. Agree the process you will use to compare and agree which consultant will be awarded the work. Who will be involved? What criteria will you be using? Will you use a scoring system? Will you use weightings? What record will be kept in case you need to justify why you selected the successful consultant?
5. When the contract has been completed to your satisfaction it is important to take some time to go over 'lessons learned'. What went well and what will you do differently next time? This is the time to review and revise any processes and supporting documentation so that they are ready for use on the next project.
A good starting point with useful guidance and templates can be found here
A simple spreadsheet template that will help you summarise and compare consultants can be found here