Whether you call it outsourcing, partnering or another term, hiring specialty expertise consultants continues to be a growing trend in the healthcare industry. Driven by the constant need to reduce operating costs to cope with budget cuts, downsizing and layoffs, drug, medical device, biologics, and combination products manufacturers are increasingly turning to outside consultants with specialty expertise and technical know-how of the constantly changing quality regulations to supplement their internal teams in a more cost effective manner.
Instead of tapping into their operating budgets, these healthcare manufacturers are able to accommodate any additional workload using capital budgets from new product development to build out their internal “skeletal crew” with highly skilled, specialty-knowledge resources who have the comprehensive skill-sets to be producing members of the team – without adding to the overhead of the department, while still maintaining control of the entire project. It’s a win-win and it’s becoming part of the business model.
But one question still remains. How do you outsource without sacrificing quality and consistency? Below are 5 must-do steps healthcare manufacturers should go through when hiring a consultant for their next project.
1. Select the right consultant
The consultant should be a highly skilled, specialty-knowledge resource hand-selected for the project based on his/her background, business acumen and interpersonal skills. The consultant should enhance internal expertise by serving as a producing member of the team with the ability to advise, teach and motivate team members; resolve conflicts and issues with deliverables and deadlines and have a good understanding of all tasks required to complete the project. They also need to be able to aim to manage and control risks and changes.
2. Ensure adequate project prep
A little prep work goes a long way. Before getting started, the consultant should work with the hiring department to identify what needs to be done and put together a plan of action on how to get there. A project start-up checklist, a project charter, a stakeholder analysis, and a communication plan should all be addressed at this stage.
3. Understand how the project will be managed
As the company, and more specifically the hiring department, heads into the ongoing phase of the project, it is important that both the department and the consultant have a clear understanding of performance expectations and project management strategies.
4. Ensure proper project closeout
The consultant should schedule a staging meeting with the hiring department based on a timeline dictated by the contract and review the status of the project support with the department during this meeting to determine next steps. The consultant should also review project performance, verify that all project tasks have been completed, complete knowledge transfer to the internal team and ultimately closeout the project.
5. Identify lessons learned and apply to future projects
After project completion, the consultant should schedule a time to conduct a lessons learned session to identify successes and areas for improvement on future projects. Was the project within budget? Was it on schedule? Did it produce what it was meant to produce, and at the required quality? What can be learned from this? This is a great time to take notes and apply these lessons to future projects.
Keep in mind – successful projects do not just happen. They require the right consultant with strong interpersonal skills, structured planning, the right tools, and insightful management. Use the five tips above to help make your next project a winner.