Hiring a consultant for a project or for expert advice?
Thank you for choosing PATCA, the professional organization that has helped set the quality standard for the consulting industry since 1975. PATCA consultants expand your expertise and effectiveness by developing and delivering the solutions you seek – now.
PATCA serves client companies in many professional disciplines, from hardware and software development, engineering, biosciences and research, to marketing, management, human resources and law. Our mission is to be the trusted resource you rely on when you need the expert edge.
Business Guide to Finding and Choosing Consultants
When your business needs specialized talent or industry-specific knowledge not readily available on staff, a consultant can prove invaluable. With an outside consultant, you gain fresh perspective, expert experience, up to date knowledge and an immediate solution—without having to hire, train, supervise and provide benefits for a new employee. These are just some of the ways using consultants can help keep your business on the expert edge.
PATCA offers businesses direct access to a network of top professional, management, and technical consultants through our free Post A Project referral service, a print directory, and an online searchable Consultants Database. You can submit specific consulting requirements via a referral request form and receive free referrals to PATCA members, or select the consultant whose skills best meet your needs through our searchable database.
If you’ve never used consultants before, we can help you get the most benefit from working with a consultant, just by following these guidelines.
What is a consultant?
The word consultant means different things to different people. As generally accepted and used by PATCA, a consultant is:
- A professional with knowledge and experience, possessing skills in a specialized field or fields;
- An independent contractor rather than an employee, offering services or skills to clients for a fee;
- Project or task oriented, able to devote the time necessary to accomplish an assignment independent of other responsibilities;
- Retained for professional judgment, as well as for knowledge, experience and skills.
Consultants solve problems. Highly trained in analyzing problems and developing solutions that satisfy management objectives, they frequently implement these solutions as well. Focus on results. Work flows from client objectives. The degree to which these objectives are met is a key criterion of the consultant’s contribution.
When is it wise to use consultants?
There are many circumstances in which consultants may represent the most cost-effective solution for your business needs. Consider using consultants when you require:
- Specialized expertise not available within your firm.
- One-time and overload assistance for peak periods or unique projects.
- Impartial analysis, good judgment and an unbiased opinion.
- Innovation or a catalyst for fresh thinking on a project or in a department.
- Training, both formal and informal, at all levels of the company.
- Help on a temporary basis, during a period of expansion, or when near-term business situations are uncertain.
Five simple steps for finding a consultant:
STEP 1 – Clearly define project responsibilities, expectations and objectives, along with the specific skills you require.
STEP 2 – Locate consultants by using PATCA’s Post a Project referral service or
STEP 3 – by searching for a PATCA Consultant in the online Member Directory database, with the search keywords you have chosen.
STEP 4 – Review each consultant’s profile.
STEP 5 – Choose the professional(s) with the qualifications that most closely fit your needs.
Five qualities to look for in a consultant:
- Communication. Are past assignments discussed in meaningful terms?
- Perspective. Can the consultant relate to your task and objectives?
- Technical competence. Does the consultant possess the particular expertise required for the proposed assignment?
- Approach. What methods will be used to accomplish the task? Request a written proposal outlining the strategy, and estimating the time and costs involved.
- Performance. Client references can provide insight concerning a consultant’s competence.
When your selection process is complete, agree in writing on project scope, expectations, deliverables, and schedules, with a signed Consulting Agreement. With clear expectations, the likelihood of success increases exponentially.
After your project is completed, please give us feedback on how well PATCA met your needs during this process. Contact us here.
If you have any questions about using a consultant, please call the PATCA office at (800) 74-PATCA. We will be happy to help you identify the most appropriate skills and areas for your project, and assist you in finding and engaging the best consultant for your needs.