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Is my consultant working?

How will I know?

While consultants bill by the hour, it’s not the consultant’s time for which you’re paying. However tempting it may be to keep track of the number of hours the consultant spends onsite, efforts to do so are misspent. That level of scrutiny should be applied to the work products the consultant is producing.

Measure results not hours.

Often called “deliverables” or “artifacts,” work products are the documents, workshops, reports, and activities that the consultant uses to deliver his or her services to your project. Work products should represent the consultant’s expertise and be tracked through a project or engagement schedule. The schedule will predict how long the project will last. The work products’ delivery will ensure the project stays on schedule.

When a deliverable, or work product, is due, the consultant should produce the work product, walk you through it, and help to put it into context. For example, if the work product is a Gap Analysis which is meant to analyze your current situation and compare it to your desired outcome, the document should be a thorough recounting of what the consultant has learned so far of your existing conditions. It should then explain the desired outcome as you’ve related it to him, and analyze the difference between the two.

The product is tangible proof of work.

When the deliverable is submitted, review it carefully to be sure it meets the objectives it claims to meet. Then, ask the consultant to explain, given this output, how the project is going to progress. Each deliverable should be affecting, or changing, the project in some way. If it is not moving you closer to your goal, that outcome for which the consultant was hired, then the deliverable is superfluous.

So, how do you know the consultant is working if he’s not on site and a deliverable is not yet due?

Consultants should be responsive, available, and delivering results.

If your consultant responds to your communications (emails, texts) within the agreed-upon response time and answers your inquiries honestly and thoroughly, then your consultant is working.

If the consultant is available for meetings, calls, or site visits with little notice or with acceptable regularity, then your consultant is working.

If she is listening attentively and contributing to the conversation in a way that helps you get a broader or deeper view of the issue, then she is working.

If your consultant is executing the project plan you agreed on, delivering work products, and affecting your organization in the positive way she promised she would, then she is working.

Hours are not work. They’re just time.

Results only come from real work and real work is responsiveness, availability, and engagement with you and your team. How will you know your consultant is working? She’ll be making a difference in your organization.

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