06.01.2016 : Clive Rundle

Getting better value from your consultant

If you aren’t getting the outcomes you desire, here's a few tips from someone on the inside!

Have you ever wondered, "How can I get better value from my consultant?" If you aren't getting the outcomes you desire, here's a few tips from someone on the inside:
  1. Consultants are good technically but they are hopeless mind-readers! You need them to understand your objectives and preferences, so insist on regular progress meetings so you can influence the direction of their work. Consider visiting them at their office if it's practical, because then you get to inform their whole team.
  2. If tender prices vary by more than 20% then you probably haven’t scoped the work well enough, and you are in danger of choosing a consultant who has misinterpreted what you want. In this situation, everyone loses! If there are some areas in which you can’t define the scope, consider making those parts provisional sums and the remainder lump sums.
  3. Make sure you choose (and get) individuals who have done similar work before. You will regret choosing a low price from a team who knows that’s the only way they can win.
 Experience = Value
  1.  Be prepared to pay a bit more to explore good ideas. Nothing turns off the innovation-tap faster than knowing a smart idea becomes more work and less reward.
  2. Set a high standard. Reject work that is not professionally written and presented. Rather than expending effort laboriously adding comments to poor work, a good client of mine uses a simple sampling approach - he checks 10% of the drawings/deliverables in detail and rejects all 100% if the sample is not up to scratch. Your consultant will soon get the message.
  3. Another good client and friend of mine has a saying, "Money to a consultant is like oxygen to the brain: turn it off and they go brain-dead." While this might be a tad harsh, there's also some truth there too. It's worth keeping your eye on the big picture (which is the success of your project!) and providing enough 'oxygen' to get what you need.

These are my observations from a career in consulting. Perhaps you have learned some lessons worth adding to my list? I'm certainly interested to hear them and others reading this may too. Please, no suggestions of stoning or crucifixion!live Rundle

About the Author

Clive Rundle

Group Director - Utilities

Clive leads our Water Business in New Zealand, is a Director of CH2M Beca and has served the wider industry as President of Water NZ. During his 25 year career he has led change in the water industry, being bold enough to step beyond conventions and bring fresh ideas and technologies for the benefit of communities.

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What Do You Think?

Stan Webster · 15/05/2015 10:28:48 AM
Never a truer word spoken. Appreciate your honesty . Cheers.

Paul Lind · 5/05/2015 10:05:17 PM
Informative and worth sharing with the team. Thanks for the information.

Jon Huxley · 1/05/2015 7:39:34 AM
Simple and wise messages, Clive.