In my previous post, I listed the first five tips you can following when trying to choose an EDI/EAI consultant. Here are the remaining 5 tips for this process. Following these 10 tips will guide you through the process of selecting a good, qualified EDI consultant.
6. Communicate the Consultants Role to Employees – It is important that your staff has cleared their calendars to give the consultant their focus and attention. Your staff’s time with a consultant can yield knowledge transfer that will assist with project efficiency and increase the likelihood of remaining within budget. A staff member who is feeling threatened or defensive will often avoid spending the required time with the consultant. A confident staff member understands that there is much knowledge to be gained from the consultant’s wide array of engagement experience. While good consultants will try to put staff fears to rest (unless they are the problem), it is up to you to make it clear to the staff that the consultant is there to identify and support solutions, not to threaten or find fault.
7. Conduct Weekly Updates – Regularly schedule status reports with the consultant during the life of the project. These reports should cover unresolved issues, period accomplishments, next period objectives, etc. Also, ask for regular reports on effort expended to date and projected effort to complete. You don’t want to discover that the consultant has been waiting for key data to validate critical observations or situations weeks after the fact! Important information should not wait till the next scheduled update. Continual communications provides the best format for success.
8. Schedule A Midpoint Review Session - Review what’s been completed to date and ensure that the deliverables and supporting data are consistent with expectations. Identify and define any change in scope that may require different or additional time, resources or expenses. Communicate to all stakeholders the status of the project including any scope changes. Does the project require alternatives that have not been considered? Make sure that deliverables are not being built upon incomplete data or operational anomalies and they have not been unduly influenced by the bias of a particular corporate segment.
9. Float Preliminary Conclusions – Share tentative conclusions, and preliminary deliverables with senior management and staff alike. Do the project outcomes meet the intended requirements? If not why? And state what needs to happen to correct the situation? Have any changes in scope been clearly communicated and considered within the preliminary deliverables? Ensure that the level of detail in the acceptance phase is sufficient to support the conclusions on accuracy of the final deliverable.
10. Conduct the Final Deliverable Review as an Integrated Team – The success of communicating project deliverables to the senior management is only as good as the quality of the data presented and the support demonstrated by participating staff. Every person on the project team should be involved in presenting the project outcome. Use your team to validate points with detailed, company specific examples, in order to provide a substantive view of the success of the project. Include within the presentation, what could be handled better or differently next time. Every project, like life, is a learning process. Be willing to embrace the lessons and continually improve.
Finally, select your consultant carefully. A good consultant is not someone who is between jobs or unemployable. A good consultant possesses the subject matter expertise you need. A good consultant has successfully done for other organizations the same things they will be doing for you. A good consultant has good people, communications and presentation skills. A good consultant understands the big picture and how the details fit into the big picture. And, a good consultant knows that an important part of their role is to help you succeed.
A good consultant is a problem finder and fixer that can generate many times their fees in additional revenue provided that they are utilized effectively.