There are a couple of things that any client should consider when working with a consultant, be it in engineering, agronomy, financial or any other service. By understanding these few items, you can more effectively minimize the amount of service fees and ensure that your project continues to move along in a timely manner.
1. Hire the Right Company ASAP.
Schedule an initial consultation as soon as possible in the project, but not until you really have a good idea of what you’re looking for. Also look to hire the right consulting company with the right expertise for your project– changing companies part way through the project can be very hard on both you and your checkbook. Sometimes you will be money ahead if you throw away the old consultant and start with the right consultant.
2. Define Your Role.
Be clear about what portions of the project you are going to retain responsibility for and what portions of the project for which you expect assistance from the consultant. You might find it is better to have the consultant do everything so it gets done and done right. Your time is worth more than you think and doing something wrong, or not at all, might cost you more than having the consultant do it for you.
3. Share Your Data.
Provide the consultant with as much information for your project up front (i.e. animal numbers, site location, barn style, point person contact information, certification/permit numbers, etc.).
4. Gather Data.
Collect any samples, or other data needed for your project, in accordance with program requirements and as early as possible so that you can weed out potential problems early.
5. Review and Reflect.
Really take time to think about the drafts and information that are sent to you by the consultant. Sometimes after you’ve taken some of the issues off your mind, you’re better able to reflect on additional pieces. Thoroughly review the information and correspondence and provide honest feedback in a timely manner. Brainstorming together will work out best for you in the end.
6. Make Changes.
Changing sites or layouts might not cost as much as you think and often a big change to your project works out better than you ever could have guessed. There are many times where there is good reason to change course and even if the exploration work adds time and cost, adjustments can be valuable to the overall project. Make it worth the investment and make changes as early in the project as possible; but don’t worry, it is never too late to make a change.
7. Take Care of Business.
Pay your consultant bills on time– a delay in payment can cause a delay in continued work on your project. If you can’t pay your bill for any reason, make contact with your consultant to see what options might be available to you.
8. Up Front Permitting.
Begin working on and apply for permits as soon as you are satisfied with your project layout. Permitting can be a long process so it’s good to start early. Be up front and honest about your project so that permitting entities are not surprised during the permitting or construction phases. Naysayers can complicate the process, but almost never stop the process.
Allow your consultant to work directly with other project contractors in order to pass along the most accurate and thorough information directly to all parties involved. The consultant should provide clear documentation that outlines all the information contractors need to prepare an accurate construction bid for your project. Good communication will save you money in the end.
Don’t start construction until after you receive all approvals from all entities involved; including financial partners and permitting agencies. Understand and support the use of the consultant’s trained personnel during active construction in order to limit costly contractor errors and ensure compliance with all permits and regulations.
At Williams Engineering Services, we look forward to working with you as a partner to implement your successful project vision. If you are located in Minnesota or Wisconsin, please feel free to contact Ronnie Williams, PE, at 715-829-3231 or Contact Us to begin the discussion on your next project.