A consultant is dependent on her reputation with each consultant client. Each client has different expectations concerning what they expect from a consultant, and every consultant has her own way of working and her own skill set. This makes it important to keep communication open and to firmly decide on what will and will not be done during the period of the consultancy.
Fulfilling the Consulting Contract
One of the most important things that any consultant can do is to fulfill every part of the contract and to do it in a timely manner. The consultant and the consultant client should agree together on a contract that spells out the part that each party plays. Both parties should include their own timelines within the contract, stipulating when work is to be delivered as well as when payments are sent to the consultant.
The expectations of both parties should be reflected in the contract and in the initial discussions about the project. If the expectations are too high, both parties can suffer from the results. The consultant's client should understand exactly what the consultant can do and how it will affect his business.
The reputation of the consultant rests on how well she can fulfill the terms of the contract. Sticking to those terms should be the highest priority of the consultant in order to preserve that reputation.
Short-Term Consultant Relationships
A consultant may be contracted to take on a short project that is over in a few weeks, or even in a few days. These projects should be undertaken by the consultant with the utmost seriousness, even if the scope of the project is short. A short-term project can result in more work later or even an expansion into a longer-term relationship. Even if there is no work coming later, a short-term client can be used as a reference, so it's important to keep every client happy with the work that is produced.
Long-Term Consultant Relationships
Companies often retain consultants for long-term services. This is almost always done on an independent contractor basis. This arrangement can go on for years, but it should begin with a contract that stipulates what is expected of the consultant. Sometimes a long-term consultant arrangement turns into a permanent job with the company.
Changing the Parameters of a Project
Many projects grow and change during the course of getting them done. The relationship between the consultant and the client should allow for any changes that need to be made. Technical consulting often reveals that a problem is more complex than was originally thought, expanding the project. Both parties should have the flexibility to change some of the parameters of the project when needed. A constant level of communication between both parties makes it possible to enact these changes in order to get the best results from the project.
When undertaking a consultant client relationship, consultants should remain professional at all times. This keeps the relationship between both parties respectful. By keeping communication open and having clear expectations, a consultant-client relationship can be mutually beneficial.