There are various benefits of hiring a mining consultant, but it is often not a cheap exercise. At the completion of your project it is important that there are no budget surprises and you achieve your desired final output. So how can you make sure that you are getting the best from your consultant? Here are some tips:
Start with the end in mind
Before commencing your project, ask yourself one question “What final outputs do I want?” One of the main reasons you may be hiring a consultant is because you are solving a complex problem. However, you can still determine what the final outputs or deliverables should be and make sure that the consultants you are hiring have completed a similar project before. Ask them for some sanitised examples of previous works. If they can’t produce them, they may not be the consultants for you.
Spend time scoping the job first yourself
Take the time to get an idea of what the job requires:
- What’s the project focus?
- How long will it take?
- How big is my budget?
- What will I have to deliver to my boss and in what format?
- What can be done internally?
- How much do I want to learn on this journey?
It may take some time but it is important to accurately scope the project. Nailing the scope will reduce surprises and variations. If uncertain, you can always ask your consultant to provide a scope.
Look at the capability of the consultant, not just the consulting firm’s brand
There are a number of reputable Australian mining consultancies but the capabilities of their consultants vary. A consultancy provides the processes and procedures to guide their consultants. However, the work is still completed by people who have to use their best judgement when making decisions. You can have the best of both worlds—nothing beats a credible consulting brand, a great consultant and good process.
Get multiple quotes
Don’t just base your price assumptions on headline consulting rates. Consultants usually build up a quote using time and materials, so total costs may be very different. Additional fees for admin, project management, printing, variations and software can add up so make sure you get a detailed quote from each of your consultant.
Good relationships result in good outcomes
Great relationships are built on trust and respect. Clients who build relationships with consultants based on mutual trust and respect invariably end up getting far more value than what was quoted.
Ask advice from your consultant
Your consultant is there to help you so don’t hesitate to get their opinions or insights on a project. You will be amazed at the responses you will receive just by asking for their advice.
Expect and manage variations
Changes to the scope mid project will often result in a variation in cost and project timeframes. Understand that if the scope is changed by the client then a variation request is fair, however, if the consultant has made a mistake then hold them to the original proposal. When planning, allow 5-10% of the project value for variations. You don’t have to tell the consultant this, but keep it in your back pocket just in case.
Understand how consulting companies work
Most mining consultants generate revenue from billable hours and staff will be required to maintain at least 85% utilisation. A good professional service firm will monitor this on a fortnightly or monthly basis. Asking a consultant to complete tasks out of scope pro-bono will mean a decline in their utilisation or often they will end up completing this after hours in their own time.
Set realistic deadlines
A rushed project can result in problems which are compounded by engaging more project team members, thinking that the more people, the more tasks that can be done. This is often not the case, it takes time to ensure the new members are familiar with the project and there is an increased requirement for project management. Create a timeline that both parties are comfortable with, then add some contingency. Give yourself enough time to review the final project outcomes before giving that big presentation to your management.
Work closely with your consultant
The best project outcomes are achieved when the client and consultant work closely together with open communication channels. Prior to commencing, schedule regular meetings with the consultant to review the progress and discuss any items that need consideration.
We hope that the above tips will add value to you next project. Please contact us at MEC Mining for any mining consulting projects that you may need assistance with. www.mecmining.com