How can you tell if your prospective Integration consultant knows what he’s doing?
Or: “but the sales rep TOLD me that he would be great!”
Look for, and evaluate, the following:
Fit with Your Internal Team
Does your consultant pass the kindergarten test . . . can he work and play nicely with others? Sometimes the consultant’s personality type just doesn’t fit, this doesn’t necessarily mean a given consultant is bad, sometimes they just don’t match with the social makeup of your team.
Do not underestimate the danger posed to your project by having a consultant who doesn’t get along with the rest of your team. It can, has, and likely will, cause problems in areas where you least expect them.
Good questions to ask your potential consultant around this topic are generally the result of team interviews. You should allow several members of your team to interview the potential consultant, preferably some in groups, and some individually. After this, management needs to have a frank discussion with their teams about how well the potential consultant fits in. Keep in mind that most people present their best side and only their best side in interviews, if there is a problem that is detected in the interview stage, odds are good that it will be magnified once the consultant is one site.
How is their Corporate Team?
Even the best of consultants will not know absolutely everything that needs to be known to make your project succeed. This is when you need to know what their team is like. Does the firm that the consultant is working for specialize in the technology in question? Are there others at the company your consultant can call for help when needed? Did you just select a consultant who is the only person at their company who knows about this technology? Does the consulting firm in general have experience in your industry? Doing similar projects?
This topic is best explored before the individual consultant is brought in for interviews. As part of your initial screening process to decide what consultants to bring in for interview, a key component of your evaluation process should be the capabilities of the firms in question, not just the individual consultants. Projects don’t get successfully completed by individuals, they get completed by teams.