Consultancy Rant

If you hire a consultant to do something for you, chances are you’ve done this because either you don’t have the time, you don’t have the skill, or both. It would be helpful to all involved if you would remember this. When hiring a designer, let the designer design. Don’t naysay color combination choices, dont’ move graphical elements around, etc. These decisions were made by an expert with years of experience in doing just that. If you hire a copywriter, don’t edit their work until it is more yours than theirs. If you hire a programmer, don’t tell them how to make their function work better. Let the experts do the job you’ve hired them to do. Anything else, you’re likely to be insulting the expert and wasting your money.

Any project must have client input. Ideally, this input is at the beginning, getting the scope & expectations of the project. Later, you will get to approve one or more options presented to you on. Once this is done, minor edits and suggestions may be presented to the consultant, but you should not assume that these will become part of the consultant’s solution. Many consultants will claim a collaborative process. When they say this, they mean up until they finish concepting. You will, with a collaborative consultant, probably spend more time in meetings, brainstorming, deciding on the exact scope & expectations of the project. This should, in fact, take up most of the budget of a project. Once this is complete, all that is left is for the consultant to produce their solution for you. Your involvement, and collaboration has come to an end.

As with any relationship, trust is a key element in a consultant-client relationship. Because you researched, took bids and finally chose and hired a consultant, it as assumed that you trust them to get the job done right. Until this has been proved different, grant them the benefit of this trust. If they break this trust, fire them and get a consultant that will do the job right.

When dealing with creatives, remember 2 things: First, keep an open mind to new possibilities. You’ve hired them to think outside the box, so expect something different. Second, you are most likely not the intended audience for the project (why would you spend so much money that’s just for you?). So listen to the consultant when she describes to you how and why this solution works for your intended audience.

(Sometimes I fear these off-the-cuff, reactionary posts will come back and haunt me. I’m resisting the urge to edit or remove this post until I’ve a calmer, more collected, more informed opinion (although, being a consultant, I’m fairly informed). So be warned that I reserve the right to disagree with myself on a second thought, but the above’s an initial foray into this endless discussion.)