25. November 2021 - Report

Working with Freelancers

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Working with Freelancers - What they should consider to ensure an effective process.

More and more executives and decision-makers use independent consultants to fill capacity and expertise bottlenecks in the short term and to advance important projects. Independent management consultants and subject matter experts help with strategy development, transformation tasks, reorganizations, or M&A issues. But they are not always put to good use.

If you are considering hiring a consultant through a platform like expertpowerhouse (EPH), you should maintain an internal working process that starts before you even make initial contact with us. Our process at EPH is as follows:

1) You contact us with a new support request.

2) We identify and evaluate the most suitable consultants for your project

3) You select your favorites

4) EPH takes care of all contractual and administrative tasks

5) You start working with our consultant

Along this process, there are numerous ways to make the matching more effective - from project briefing to project onboarding. Click here for the EPH Check List

Before the first contact

So you have decided to work with a freelance consultant. Before you send us a request, you should be clear about your requirements to ensure a faster and more effective process.

1. Prepare a detailed project briefing

The more detailed the specific project requirements are defined, the better it will be to find a suitable consultant. What do you want to achieve with the project? Which team structures exist and in which industry do you/your client work? Clarify the start date and the length of the assignment. In order to find the right candidate, it is important to know whether you are flexible at the start and individual milestones or whether all dates have already been set and can no longer be changed. Furthermore, these dates are of course important for the consultant to be able to plan his assignment.

2. Define the requirements for the consultant / expert

To find the right consultant, you should be clear about the gaps you want him or her to fill. What experience does the consultant need to have? Are there certain language requirements? Will the consultant be remote or on-site? How intensively do you want to use the consultant?

3. Determine the budget

You should have a clear idea of what you are willing to invest for an external consultant. Transparency in the budget helps to find consultants who fit into the financial framework in addition to their professional suitability. Clear communication of the financial framework prevents an unnecessarily long selection process and frustration.

Want to make sure you've thought of everything? Click here for the EPH Check List.

Selection process

The request has been made and the first profiles have been proposed on our part. But now comes the most important decision: Which consultant do you choose for your project? An agile process for selection as well as approval of your end client will save you time and guarantee that you will not run into delays.

1. Review and discuss the short profiles.

Vendors like expertpowerhouse will send you profiles of suitable candidates. Take the time to check if your requirements are met and if the consultant fits the budget. Are there any additional requirements that you forgot to include in the request or that were newly specified?

2. Have a get-to-know-you interview with the candidates.

With the shortlist of candidates, be sure to have a get-to-know-you interview. The introductory phone call with candidates does not have to be time-consuming. You should have the opportunity to get to know the candidate better, ask about specific and relevant experience, and check for personal suitability. Many projects require close collaboration and therefore personal suitability is also particularly important. In order to speed up the further decision-making process, you should already determine in advance who will make the selection of candidates and how the internal coordination for this will take place.

3. Clarify whether approval is required from your end customer.

Often, an additional team member must be approved by your end customer. You should therefore clarify at an early stage whether and how your end customer will be involved in the decision-making process. Does he participate in the get-to-know-you meetings? Do you only introduce your favorite? Without a clearly defined process, the project may be severely delayed.

4. Plan fixed deadlines in the decision-making process.

Freelance consultants often receive multiple project requests, so it's important to create time transparency. How long do you need to provide feedback on candidates? By when can the consultant expect a decision from you? Realistic expectations make collaboration easier for both sides, consultants can better plan which projects are suitable for you and "kept free" for the client.

Keeping an eye on the most important issues? Click here for the EPH Check List.

Project Start

Now you have found your ideal candidate and he will soon join your team. Finished? Not quite yet, because onboarding has not yet taken place. A missing or poorly planned onboarding can lead to significant delays, e.g., if a consultant has not been given access to the required tools, licenses and email accounts still need to be set up or goals have not been clearly defined. To get the collaboration off to the most effective start, the following points are especially important:

1. Take time to plan your onboarding.

Make sure the onboarding of the consultant has been logistically planned. Have the start date and location already been determined? Have you informed your own team and taken care of the necessary clearances? Set up initial meetings with the project team before they start and determine how the consultant will work (remote vs. on-site).

2. Take care of the necessary infrastructure.

The consultant should be able to actively participate in the project from the beginning. Make sure that the necessary arrangements are made. Will the consultant use his own laptop or will he need a company device? Will new office licenses need to be purchased and set up? These questions should not be resolved on the day of onboarding but should be discussed in advance.

3. Define clear results and expectations

As with any project, it is critical to have a clear project plan, with milestones and targeted outcomes and deliverables. This is equally important when you hire an external consultant. Ideally, the consultant will already be closely involved in the detailed planning of the project, allowing them to contribute their own ideas and be fully behind the approach. Clearly discuss and define your expectations and desired outcomes with the independent consultant. What role does he or she play in your team? What role in client meetings? Good communication ensures that all parties understand both the timeline and the deliverables needed and can deliver accordingly. This avoids conflicts and misunderstandings as the project progresses. In addition, regular feedback should be provided to the consultant in order to successfully complete the project and achieve improvement along the way.

Want to ensure you are more efficient in selecting freelance consultants in the future? For easy implementation, you can download the EPH Check List here.