For churches,consultants often become necessary When projects move beyond the expertise of staff and lay leaders,especially true for technology-driven projects,such as media systems, environmental devices,or security control. Here are some proven methods for finding and selecting a technical consultant to ensure the success of your project:
1) The consultant should be an active member of a recognized professional association.
Typically, each relevant society has an accessible website with a list of local members and answers to common questions. Membership indicates minimum level of competence and demonstrates a sesire to improve one's craft.
2) Review similar projects the consultant recently completed.
Past jobs showcase the consultant's performance,not only in the work itself, but also in the timeliness and accuracy of the consultant's design, and his or her ability to navigate the team through unseen challenges. The consultant's ability to develop and execute a sensible, economic workaround is the mark of a true professional. From there,check with some of the contractors and installers who will be performing the work to gauge their assessment of the consultant's temperament. Much can be learned from those who have been under the consultant's directive.
3) Conduct a minimum of three face-to-face interviews.
These are necessary to build enough rapport between the church and the consultant to withstand the issues certain to arise during the latter stages of the project.
In the first interview, the consultant should demonstrate empathy with the church's core needs and not be perceived as pushing an agenda or a "pre-packaged" solution. On the second interview, the consultant should present a written proposal of all salient points. For instance, if several new copiers are being installed around the campus, the consultant should lay out in detail the power requirement and implementation model for each location, as these will vary from room to room.Putting the plan in writing will help unearth any areas of misunderstanding before a project starts. In the third interview, allow the conversation to flow away from the immediate concern to glean an understanding of the consultant's approach to topics outside the issue at hand.
Without due diligence on the front end, there can be no success on the back end. Therefore, the church committee's efforts should be heavily biased toward sifting through the list of qualified applicants to find the one consultant with a shared heart for the goals of the ministry and the strength of character to overcome obstacles as they are presented.
Kent Morris is a media systems designer and technology instructor based in Atlanta and a contributing editor to Your Church
Copyright © 2009 by the author or Christianity Today/Your Church magazine.
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