5 key questions you can ask a prospective outcomes measurement system consultant to help you choose a good one!
Whether it is due to insufficient time, lack of internal expertise, or a combination of both, sometimes it is more cost effective to contract an external ETO consultant like those at SquaredImpact to help you with your outcomes measurement Efforts to Outcomes (ETO) implementation than to use internal staff time and resources.
Question 1: Do you have experience with this type of ETO outcomes system implementation project?
The goal of this question is to understand the consultant’s experience with the specific task or project you are looking to implement. You also want to understand the outcomes of past projects that are similar to your requirements, so you can determine whether the consultant can deliver the outcomes that you are looking for.
Question 2: Do you have references we can talk to about your ETO implementation expertise?
Two or three references are generally enough to assess the quality of the consultant. However, keep in mind that a consultant will generally not provide a reference to someone who was not happy with their services, therefore, you need to ask targeted questions of each reference to gather appropriate feedback, such as:
- How is the consultant’s responsiveness to questions, feedback, and requests?
- What are some of the consultant’s strengths?
- What are some of the consultant’s weaknesses?
- Is there anything you would have done differently?
- Overall, how would you rate your experience?
- Are you still an active client or would you use the consultant’s services again?
Question 3: Are you trained/certified by Social Solutions?
ETO certifications are given to those who pass Social Solutions’ certification tests and evaluate a person’s knowledge of ETO. There are three types of certification:
- Gold Certified ETO Administrator– A Gold Certified ETO Administrator is someone with a thorough knowledge of the front-end and back-end of ETO who has attended the requisite ETO administrator training and passed the ETO Administrator exam to an exceptional standard.
- ETO Results Certified– An ETO Results Certified user is someone with extensive ETO Results reporting knowledge (ETO’s SAP Business Objects custom reporting platform) who has attended the requisite ETO Results training, and passed the ETO Results exam.
- Certified Social Solutions ETO Implementation Partner– A Certified ETO Implementation Partner is a company that has both a Gold Certified ETO Administrator and an ETO Results Certified user and is a trusted provider of independent implementation services to both new and existing ETO users.
Although the above certifications can certainly give you a good idea of a consultant’s ETO knowledge and skill, they do not evaluate a person’s customer service, quality, capability, capacity, or crucially, experience. Given this, you should conduct additional due diligence to determine whether they have the requisite skills and experience, and are a good fit, for your organisation.
Question 4: What makes you different from other ETO software consultants?
There are many different types of ETO Consultants. Some are very technical, some are strategic-focused, some are focused on ETO’s features, while others are focused on ETO users. The way the consultant will work and engage with you is very important.
The first three questions above therefore assess the expertise of the consultant, but it is also important to ask an additional question like, “What is your philosophy and process on a project like this?” to determine if the consultant’s approach is a good fit for your organisation.
Asking potential consultants what makes them different can be particularly helpful when you are evaluating multiple consultants side-by-side.
Question 5: What is your availability, timeline, pricing, and scope for our ETO project?
This question gathers specific information on exactly how the consultant will approach and complete your project and the compensation that is expected to help you compare the costs and benefits of multiple consultants. This information can also help you determine the ultimate value of using a consultant versus doing the work with internal staff and resources.
Some specific questions to ask in each of these areas include:
- Availability– How soon can the project start? Depending on the urgency of your project, this question will clarify the launch timeline for the work.
- Timeline– How long will it take to complete the project? This question can also help to forecast completion of your project.
- Pricing– How much will this project cost? Pricing information is more valuable if it is viewed in the context of the Scope of Work (SOW) to be completed (this determines the ultimate value of the work to be completed). In addition, it is also important to determine the costs if there are scope overruns.
- Scope of Work– What tasks will be completed to achieve the desired outcome? Look for specific descriptions of the process, steps, and deliverables to be completed. Also determine how scope overruns are handled (as a process).
This post references with permission blog content by Jeffrey Haguewood from Sidekick Solutions, Inc. on 24/02/15