A sizable part of a my job at the Bayer Center was providing technology consulting services for nonprofits. However, once in a while we did an in-house project where we needed to hire an outside consultant to do some technical work, and sometimes I got to project manage it.
At one point, we hired a Salesforce implementer and I got to thinking about the traits that are the highest on my list when hiring a consultant (and that I try to emulate when I do consulting):
- Technical chops. This is a given, I think, but it’s good to find out early on if the person is experienced enough to get the job done and get it done right.
- Knowledge of personal limitations. I think it’s fine for a consultant to take on a project that contains components they’ve never attempted, but only if they have a fairly good idea that they can figure things out over the course of the project. Otherwise, I’d rather have a consultant be up front with me in the project scoping process about what they cannot do.
- Honesty. Not just with technical ability and limits, but also about costs, time frames, etc.
- Good communication skills. I like working with techies who can translate geek to English, particularly when there are non-techies involved in the project as is frequently the case.
- Pleasant personality. A consultant can have the first four traits in the bag, but if they are a butthead, well…who wants to work with someone like that?
I’m happy to say we hit all five items on this list with our Salesforce consultant (who is, by the way, Tim Marcovecchio with a company called World-Class Industrial Network and to be clear, I am not getting any kickbacks from saying that. He’s just a really good dude and deserves a mention here. 🙂
What does your nonprofit look for when you hire a consultant?