Over the years I have met many very good consultants and consulting companies. Invariably they share some of the same traits – standards that I try very hard to uphold. These consultants are prompt, take notes, listen attentively, meet promised delivery dates, and tell the hard truths. There are never concerns about their competence, because they are over-qualified for the work assigned. Billings are never questioned because the good ones have clearly communicated expectations. And maybe most importantly, good consultants are able to establish strong relationships with team members based on trust and mutual respect.
The difficult part is how to find the good consultants. Among the most common factors considered are price, past performance, methodology/capability, relevant certifications, and reputation. Any one of these factors may have greater importance based on the particular assignment and particular client. However, I often caution not to over-weigh reputation.
A strong reputation is built by repeatedly meeting or exceeding expectations. I strive to have a good reputation. So do you. But our reputation should not bring us work to which we are unqualified. Our reputation alone probably should not justify excessive fees. Our reputation should not negate conflict of interest. Reputation is a good thing – it is just not the only thing.