How Do I Choose the Best Research Consultant?

Geri Terzo

There are both practical and competitive factors that can be reviewed when selecting a research consultant. A research consultant can support an organization in making clear and decisive steps towards accomplishing a certain goal or avoiding potential losses. On the practical side, it is often useful to engage a consultant who is nearby or who is readily accessible to meet demands of an organization. This especially holds true if the consultant is being engaged as a third-party provider. On the competitive side, a party might consider a consultant's historic performance, track record, and career experience before making any selection.

Looking at a research consultant's past work is a good way to select the best consultant.
Looking at a research consultant's past work is a good way to select the best consultant.

It may be useful to outline a set of written goals that you expect a consultant will help you to achieve. Also, assess what a reasonable fee structure might be for your organization to set before investing in a research consultant. You may be able to negotiate fees with consulting firms to an extent depending on the competitive response from providers. In addition, you might want to consider a request for proposal (RFP) process, in which you can clearly communicate goals and set forth a set of standards that research consultants should possess before applying.

A research consultant could help an organization with a variety of different projects, ranging from clinical research to investment strategies. The best research consultant could be someone with experience in your given field of operation. This professional is the most likely to have the appropriate contacts, experience, and value to add to your endeavor. If possible, find out how the guidance provided by particular consultants influenced the direction of other organizations.

To select the best provider, be sure to perform due diligence on the contending firms. A consultant should be able to share past performance or case studies in which he or she participated in. Also, the depth or years of experience are key in assessing the value that a research consultant is likely to offer. If you are looking for a personal touch in which you prefer to work with one senior consultant, you may need to pursue a smaller consulting firm. Large consultants often assign teams of professionals to clients, depending on the needs and size of those organizations.

Another factor to consider when choosing a research consultant is convenience. Some consulting firms are global, and may have office locations near your place of business. If not, determine if it is reasonable to conduct your communication with a research consultant over the Internet or on conference calls, and how much travel the research professional is able to allow.

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