Besides project fees and past works, what else should I look for in a consultancy?

As part of our mini-series on hiring a design consultant, Tze shares how important it is to find a good match with the consultancy and how you might be able to discern whether a particular consultancy or consultancy is a good fit for your organisation at that point in time.

Summary

  • One key factor to look out for is the people you will be working with; you would want to find alignment in both the way of working and the values between the organization and the consultancy
  • “Design is a service… in the end you are dealing with people and that’s really important to find the right match.”
  • The best way to discern this match is at the briefing stage, or even doing a really small project together first
  • Think about what value design is bringing to that part of the project that you want to solve and find the match; this match can come from anywhere in the range of freelancers on Fiverr with a quick project turnaround to a bespoke consultant with a long comprehensive process
  • Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that design is the key part of the puzzle and only solution for all problems; look at the bigger picture and see if bigger problems lie in other parts of the chain and spend the money on fixing those areas before bringing design in

Full Transcript

If at the initial conversation, both parties feel like it starts to move the understanding of the project forward, that’s typically a good sign.

DESIREE
If I were looking for a design consultancy right, and as somebody who is not very familiar with design, beyond looking at the price quotation and beyond looking at the consultancy’s past projects that may be relevant to mine, do you think there’s any other factors that I should be looking out for in a good design consultancy?

TZE
There are many, maybe a key one is actually the people that you’ll be working with. Design is a service. We will be working with teams, you’ll be working with project members and you want to find alignment in the, not just the way of working but also in the values that you bring to your organisation and that STUCK brings to the table. And a lot of times having that alignment of values means that honest open conversations can be had, difficult questions can be asked, and that speeds up the process and that also makes for more collaborative process. I guess that’s the human part of finding a right consultant, which sometimes gets neglected or buried because you can hide behind your portfolio or your wall of the professionalism of what you portray in your website, your portfolio and so on.

But in the end you are dealing with people and that’s really important to find the right match.

DESIREE
Actually do you think that that match is possible before the project begins or do you think that it takes a little bit of trial and error as you engage different consultancies over a longer period of time?

TZE
The best way to discern is at the briefing stage how… both ways right, the assessment is both ways. Because the consultant also wants to know that the clients that they are working with are going to share similar aspirations for the design or for the outcome or for the consumers. So it is a both way thing and looking at the brief that the client puts together, that’s one way. And also the discussion prior to the brief, in terms of what is the clarification process, what are the things that are important to address, what are the potential adjacencies which will affect the project? If at the initial conversation, both parties feel like it starts to move the definition forward or start to move the understanding of the project forward, that’s typically a good sign.

Outside of that, I think the best way is actually to just do a really really small project first and that immediately you get a sense of how the team works, the communication style both ways, yeah.

DESIREE
Do you think that this human factor, the people factor that you just talked about, do you think that that is actually one of the top factors in determining the right design consultancy as opposed to…

TZE
Yeah, I don’t think it’s just a human factor but it’s the match, because you’re going to have a big range of consultants available right. At the very most simplistic end are freelancers, where you’re just working with a single consultant and even there the range is big right; you can work with a really bespoke consultant or you can work with someone off of Fiverr. And it’s not really about good or bad because if your project need at that point is, you know, I just need something really quick and this is not…

What value is design bringing to that part of the project that you want to solve?

A consultant or freelancer from Fiverr might be the best solution for you at that point versus someone who is a bespoke consultant and going to run through the length, a more comprehensive process or research process to lead to outcomes. So it really is about finding the match between what is it we want to solve.

In design we sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that design is the key part of the puzzle and that design is the solution for all of the client’s problems when if you step back and look at bigger picture, sometimes their bigger problem may be with channels, with marketing, with working internally, and that’s where actually it’s better to spend your money on fixing those areas and let design take a backseat first until those areas are resolved. And then, yeah then you can put your effort in using design in the right ways.

THE STUCK IN DESIGN TEAM
Desiree Lim, Kevin Yeo, Matthew Wong

Comment

This post doesn't have any comment. Be the first one!

    hide comments
    ...

    This is a unique website which will require a more modern browser to work!

    Please upgrade today!