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:
Projects that are large enough, or high-profile enough to warrant the inclusion of professional consulting resources typically have enough visibility internally to be politically sensitive. Professional consultants have a solid understanding of the delicacy of their task: leading a project, without making internal resources feel stepped on, bypassed, or stupid.
“Good questions to determine this capability in a consultant revolve around previous engagements that ended early, previous projects that were completed without their participation, or the ubiquitous “tell me about a difficult political situation and how you handled it”.
Training and Certification
Look for training and certification that is specific to the product or products where you are seeking a consultant’s expertise. While there are a number of very good consultants who learned the majority of their skillset “on the job” Training serves an important role in filling in the knowledge gaps that an individual was not aware that they had, making for a much more well-rounded perspective on the problems at hand.
Certification, on the other hand, attests to complete mastery of a particular technology. Barring those who somehow cheat on the tests, you have pretty good odds of getting someone who knows their way around a particular piece of software, if they have a certification in that software. Beware certifications in the “last” version of a given package, often there are significant changes from version to version, and knowledge of older versions don’t necessarily translate.
Good questions around this topic generally are answered in writing on a consultant’s resume’ or profile. Be wary of unverifiable training classes, most reputable sources of technical training are verifiable, as are nearly all certifications.