8. Management consultants -continued

Critics say that while management consultants have a clear conceptual view of a problem, they often are unclearon the details involved.There are no guarantees, but a big responsibility lies with you as the client to makesure you get what you expect.

Critics say that while management consultants have a clear conceptual view of a problem, they often are unclear on the details involved.

There are no guarantees, but a big responsibility lies with you as the client to make sure you get what you expect.

That's why a detailed contract is key, as is keeping in close communication. Another way to ensure results? Pay a percentage up front and the rest upon completion of the project.

Also take care that you don't depend on the consultants too much.

"Just because you hire consultants doesn't mean you don't have to manage the whole process," says Walters.

Besides managing the project, Walters suggests taking the time to understand exactly what ideas and technology are getting transferred so that the process can be repeated in the future without outside help.

Make sure that your management consultant has an eye on the latest technology.

"In today's environment, because technology is so embedded in the business, it's really not plausible to have a management consultant that doesn't have at least some competency in technology strategies," says Linda Cohen, managing vice president at Stamford, Connecticut–based Gartner Group. "And frankly, the more of that competency they have, the more successful their projects will be."

Particularly with newer technology companies, consultants sometimes find themselves temporary extensions of a management team - even going so far as hiring staff for their clients. But consultants say that this isn't always the best idea when they're trying to help a company.

"One of the major ways clients can think about consulting is in terms of the idea of impact," says Alberto Torres of McKinsey & Co. "When clients or consulting firms start to think about their work as doing staff work, that's when consulting projects go south."


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7. Top management consultants

9. Global advantage

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