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Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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What to Look for When Choosing an Industrial Engineering Consultant


Certain types of businesses will need to master the art of industrial engineering to improve workplace safety, improve efficiency, and guarantee the longevity of their business. But how can you choose the best industrial engineering consultant for your needs?

Understand the Scope of Your Needs

Before you can start effectively looking for an industrial engineering consultant, you need to understand the scope of your needs. What are you trying to accomplish? How big is your business and how complex is the operation you're trying to optimize? What, in your mind, are the biggest challenges to optimizing this process? Is there a specific phase of the process that's giving you trouble, or are you lost with no idea where to begin?

Answering these questions and formally documenting your scope of needs will help you identify the services you need most and the length of time you need for this arrangement. It's also going to come in handy when determining whether various candidates are a good fit for your organizational needs. Get everyone on your team to sign off on your overall scope of needs before proceeding.

Set Priorities

Next, set the top priorities for your organization. You're going to encounter many different industrial engineering consultants with different skills, philosophies, and methodologies to offer. Oftentimes, it's hard to objectively determine whether one consultant is better than another; “better” is relative, and what works for one organization may not work for another.

These are usually some of the top priorities for an organization in this position:

  • Expertise/capabilities. Do you want to hire the best industrial engineering consultant around, no matter what? If so, you may have to put up with other challenges, like excessive rates or long waiting lists.
  • Cost. Are you on a strict budget and interested in finding a consultant who's willing to work with it? If so, cost may be your highest priority to consider. If a consultant is too expensive, it's just not going to work.
  • Availability. You may also need to think about availability. If you're on a time crunch with a strict deadline, you need a consultant who's able to start helping you immediately; you can't afford to schedule something months in advance at this point.

Evaluate Candidates

Once you have a good understanding of what your priorities are, you can begin searching for and evaluating candidates. There are many ways to find industrial engineering consultants, including search, social media, and tapping into your existing network. No matter how you find them, be sure to look at the following factors when comparing them:

  • Referrals and reviews. Did someone specifically refer you to this consultant? If not, are there any reviews or testimonials you can read? You'll feel much better about hiring a candidate if they have a long history of making their clients happy.
  • Credentials. What kind of credentials does this industrial engineering consultant have? If you're working with an individual, what is their background and how are they credentialed? If you're working with an organization, how long has this organization been around and who are the primary industrial engineering minds behind it?
  • Process/approach. You'll learn a lot about an industrial engineer’s capabilities and philosophies by looking at their overall process and approach. Before you sign a contract, you should have some formal documentation in place explaining exactly what's going to happen once the contract period begins. Look for a candidate who's organized and thorough.
  • Availability and schedule. Consider the availability and scheduling requirements of the industrial engineer you want to hire. Are they able to start work immediately or in relatively short order? How much time can they dedicate to you and your project?
  • Disposition/communication. Don't forget to think about this consultant’s disposition and ability to communicate. It's important to have good chemistry with your consultant, so you can have smooth and productive conversations together. If they seem aloof or reluctant to communicate, consider it a red flag.
  • Fees. Finally, think about the fees and other expenses associated with hiring this consultant. Do you think they’re worth the money? Are they in budget? Are they charging fees in line with their contemporaries?

Deliberate and Decide

At this point, you should have all the information you need to make your hiring decision. You may need to deliberate with other parties, including your partners or superiors, before pulling the trigger. Choose the candidate that seems to be the best fit for your business priorities and begin executing your plan.

Throughout your relationship with your new industrial engineering consultant, be sure to ask questions, evaluate their performance, and do whatever you can to make the relationship work smoothly.

If things aren't going to your satisfaction, you can break the engagement and try one of your other candidates.


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