Extracting Value from Consultants (subtitled: How to Hire, Control and Fire Them) is a book my sister Jenny and her husband Gordon recently wrote and published. The book is available on Amazon here. Usually I don’t read ‘business books’ (I read tech stuff online or novels for pleasure), but since I was presented an autographed, free copy, I thought I would give it a read!
The book has two target audiences – those looking to hire consultants, and consultants looking to do a better job of servicing their customers. I kind of fall into both categories because I provide consulting services for others, and also make use of consultants to help me with my work. My context is a little different since in my context ‘consultant’ is really more ‘IT Contractor’ but the information in the book remains relevant regardless.
As I mentioned I don’t usually read business books and so was expecting to be lapsed into a comatose state by a dry, jargon ridden tome. But I found the book to be quite the opposite – the book is matter of fact and extremely logically laid out and I found myself constantly nodding in agreement with the ideas presented. By the end of the book I was impressed by the easy narrative and the concise way in which the consulting process had been presented. It leads you through the process of deciding if it is appropriate to use a consultant, how to select a consultant, how to enter into a contract that will ‘cover your butt’, how to prevent the consultant engraining themself so deeply into your business that you can never be shod of them, and how to dissolve the partnership when the project comes to an end.
I learned a lot which I will try to apply to my own business albeit on a smaller scale than the multinational corporation perspectives presented in the book. Personal bias aside (given that the authors are family members), I heartily recommend the book to anyone who is planning on using consultants or contractors, or offering services as a consultant or contractor. It will give you plenty of food for thought and for the small investment in time required to read it will really help you to manage the process more effectively.