It is a standard practice for companies to collaborate with external agencies: using temporary experts and consultants to meet a deadline, to quickly solve issues or to find new ideas. But what can you do to prevent risks of miscommunication?In the last years I have been working with many different agencies and consultants, almost all are staffed by talented people and are a pleasure to work with.
HOWEVER – some things can go wrong…
What if the agency doesn´t understand your requirements? What if there is not follow-up after a project implementation or an idea development? What if you don´t give immediate feedback to your agency? What if the agency promises what it cannot deliver?
I am sure that of all us have experienced at least one of these problems, and have been thinking “What can I do next time to avoid all these issues? Should I keep myself away from consultants forever?”
These are the questions I asked myself and, as I am sure the “in-house approach” is not always appropriate, I decided to focus on “what can I avoid next time”.
Phase 1: Preparation
The agency is waiting for the guidelines and requirements of the project, so there are some things to keep in mind:
- Define all project requirements together with your key people: this is important to set a consistent direction for your agency to follow. If you involve the right people, you have less probability to find new requirements or issues during the project.
- Document all the requirements and results you want to achieve and describe them in detail.
- Tell your agency the truth and cultivate honesty.
- If you are going to implement a completely new idea or process, be willing to take risks… and be enthusiastic.
- Establish a simple approval process (e.g. for changes): if you want to meet deadlines and have the agency on your project constantly, build a basic approval process. Sometimes a simple change can block the entire project.
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