Some Tips on Maximising the Value of Consultants.
by Dennis Conrad

One of the biggest issues in Indian gaming is knowing if and when to use a consultant. Consultants should be individuals or companies that provide real help to organizations. Oftentimes, consulting services carry a price tag that can make Tribal Chairpersons, General Managers or CEO's gulp, especially if the consulting work was not anticipated in the annual budget.

You can find a consultant for just about every need - there probably is even a consultant who can help you find and manage consultants - and they certainly run the gamut when it comes to levels of experience, expertise and effectiveness.

Given this potentially significant investment in a consultant and the critical need to have him or her be as effective as possible, you owe it to yourself and your organization to maximize the benefits of the consulting relationship. With that in mind, I offer the following tips:

1. ASK YOURSELF IF YOU REALLY NEED A CONSULTANT. Does the prospective consultant truly offer a perspective, a skill or a service that does not already exist in your organization? Are you sure that you have exhausted all potential sources of assistance in your own company? Are you using a consultant because you just don't want to do the work yourself? Does the desire for a consultant highlight deeper needs or weaknesses in your organization?

2. ONCE YOU HAVE DECIDED TO USE A CONSULTANT, BE SURE TO WORK WITH HIM OR HER TO DEFINE THE PROJECT AND THE PROCESS FOR ACCOMPLISHING IT. You will have some great thoughts and some lofty expectations regarding the consulting project. So will the consultant. But if you don't sit down and get on the same page together, you run the risk of disappointment. Somewhere between "CONSULTANT TELLS MANAGEMENT WHAT TO DO" and "MANAGEMENT TELLS CONSULTANT HOW TO WORK" is a value-adding collaboration. Do your part in creating it.

3. SHARE INFORMATION WITH YOUR CONSULTANT. If you truly desire a useable, well-conceived consulting project, give your consultant any piece of information that might even be helpful in his or her work. If you are slightly paranoid about sharing sensitive company information, either get over it or have the consultant sign a confidentiality agreement.
4. MAKE THE APPROPRIATE PEOPLE IN YOUR ORGANIZATION AWARE OF THE CONSULTING PROJECT. If possible, even elicit their help in defining the project and the process by which it will work. The last thing you want to do, for example, is to tell your marketing director that you have just hired this great marketing consultant. He or she will feel a.) threatened, or b.) unwanted, both of which are undesirable consequences. It is better to get input and buy-in on the front end from key managers.

5. STAY IN TOUCH WITH YOUR CONSULTANT. Things change. Information gets old. Scope of projects can be altered. Surprising results can vary the course of investigation. Important competitive information may call for immediate action. You may realize that you have forgotten something. You may see the opportunity to expand or contract the project. These and many more are good reasons to keep in contact with your consultant during the course of the project. So put your hired gun's phone number on the top of the list of calls to make and calls to return.

6. DEMAND WAYS TO DO FOR YOURSELF TOMORROW WHAT THE CONSULTANT DOES FOR YOU TODAY. A good consultant can bring knowledge to organizations. A better consultant helps organizations learn how to gain this knowledge by themselves.

7. SHARE THE RESULTS. Why expend all the time, money and energy on gaining the wisdom that a consultant can bring, if that wisdom is not shared with people in the organization who can benefit from it? It is extremely important to make the consultant's work both KNOWN and ACTIONABLE within the organization.

If you follow the above advice and use due diligence in selecting your consultant, you may find that a "hired gun" can bring value to your Indian gaming operation, especially in areas where honest self evaluation shows that you truly need help.

Date Posted: 30-Sep-2000

DENNIS CONRAD is the president of Raving Consulting Co. which specializes in Common Sense, Customer Focused, Marketing Consulting for the gaming industry. He can be reached at: 475 Hill Street, Suite G, Reno, NV 89501 · (702) 329-7864 · fax (702) 329-4947 · email: TheRadcon@aol.com.

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