Guidelines for Selecting a Consultant for Strategic Planning
In addition to using print and Web resources related to strategic planning, academic programs may find it useful to contract with a consultant who has particular expertise in the area of strategic planning to assist them in this effort.
Consider specifically what you want to gain from the consultation. It is helpful if materials for a consultant are prepared in advance so that he/she will have ample opportunity to review and comment. Generally, the clearer you can be regarding your expectations, the more satisfied you will be with the results. Your expectations should be communicated to the consultant as part of a letter of agreement.
In selecting a consultant, you will want to consider:
- Geographic location of the consultant; if finances are an issue, you may want to contract with someone local.
- Type of institution/program with which the consultant is familiar (e.g., state vs. private; large vs. small; master's vs. doctoral, etc.)
- Years of experience of potential consultant.
- Stated areas of expertise of the consultant (e.g., curriculum design and development, student assessment, admissions, clinical practicum models, faculty recruitment and development, planning, budgeting, research). You may wish to ask for a reference from a program administrator who has used the consultant or review written or published works by the potential consultant.
Consultants generally expect to receive expenses (travel and per diem) plus a negotiated fee. The fee is based on the experience and expertise of the consultant. The letter of agreement should clarify whether the consultant is to be paid for advance preparation, writing follow-up reports, travel time, etc.
Letter of Agreement
Having a letter of agreement between the program and the consultant is recommended. This may include general information such as:
- expectations (e.g., on-site recommendations during the consultation visit, recommendations at the end of the visit, a written report within a certain time frame, etc.)
- expenses and fees
- time/schedule (e.g., number of days, maximum number of hours, deadlines, etc.)
- materials to be reviewed in advance of consultation
In planning for the consultation, you may want to discuss:
- with whom the consultant will want to meet
- what the consultant recommends that you do to prepare for the visit
- materials the consultant needs to review in preparation for the visit
Finding a Consultant
There are multiple ways to find a consultant who is right for your specific needs.
- One of the first places to look is on your own campus; there is typically a planning or assessment office within the university.
- Ask your colleagues at other graduate education programs for recommendations.
- Post a message on the e-mail list of the Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CAPCSD).
- Contact established consulting groups or private consultants1 that provide consulting on a variety of higher education issues, including strategic planning, assessment, etc.
1 ASHA has not evaluated and does not recommend or endorse any specific groups or individuals.