10 Questions You Should Ask Consultants

10 Questions You Should Ask Consultants

It is common for organizations to hire consultants to provide additional support or provide expertise. Consultants can bring a lot to the table, but in order for it to be a valuable experience it’s important to hire a person or team that is right fit for your organization and the project.

Before you start looking for a consultant, ask your team these questions to make sure your organization is ready to work with a consultant and has a clear scope of work for the project.

Once the decision has been made to move forward, take the time to find the right person or team to meet your needs. A consultant might be a perfect fit for one project but not for another. A team may have great expertise but a working style that doesn’t mesh with your organizational culture. So, it’s important to do a little leg work up front. It is also critical to make sure you and the consultant you hire have shared expectations and a clear process for working together.

Before you hire a consultant, ask them these important questions to ensure you are on the same page and the partnership is the right fit.

  1. How familiar are you working with an organization like ours (size, type, scope)?
  2. How much experience do you have with similar projects?
  3. What makes you the right fit for this project and for our organization?
  4. How would you measure the success of this project?
  5. What steps will you take to ensure the project is successful? What do you think are major milestones?
  6. What will each of our roles be in completing this project? What type and level of support do you expect from us?
  7. What is your proposed process for working together?
  8. What is your proposed process for developing and finalizing deliverables?
  9. What is your proposed timing, estimated cost, and preferred payment structure?
  10. Do you foresee any challenges in providing the deliverables within the proposed timeline?

Additional Tips

  • If you think you’ve found a good fit, request references for similar work – and take the time to ask what went well, and what did not.  This is especially important in cases where consultants may not be able to share examples of similar deliverables due to client confidentiality.
  • If your organization requires non-disclosure, non-compete, or other agreements, make sure the consultant is willing to sign them.
  • If working with a team of consultants, ask for a designated consistent point of contact that can provide regular progress updates and answer questions.


About the Author:

Aparna Ramakrishnan has 20 years of experience developing and evaluating social sector programs. As Principal at Devi Partners, she provides expertise and technical assistance in strategy, communications, partnerships, research and evaluation to nonprofits, government agencies, and other organizations that do good.
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