Although there are many success stories about relationships between nonprofits and consultants, there are some disappointments as well. Some managers complain that the consultant they hired didn't provide the outcomes they were expecting, focused on the wrong problems or, worse yet, created new problems.
To make sure you and your organization don't become a cautionary tale, it's important to look at some of the reasons why things can go wrong. For example, things can go badly when the organization fails to define the project properly, when the consultant selected doesn't have the appropriate knowledge or skills, or when the consulting firm replaces the people you thought you were hiring with less-qualified substitutes. Problems can also emerge when the consultant isn't properly supervised or when he or she isn't given the necessary information and support from within the organization.
However, organizations have the power to prevent many of the things that can potentially go wrong. Problems often result from a lack of understanding of the consultant's role and from limited knowledge about selecting, hiring, and managing consultants. To get the most out of a consulting relationship, managers need to be informed and take a proactive approach throughout the entire consulting process.