Questions to Ask Strategic Planning Consultants

by | Mar 17, 2023 | Strategic Planning

If you’re starting strategic planning and interviewing consultants, you might be wondering: What questions should I ask strategic planning consultants?

Most organizations undertaking strategic planning choose to work with a consultant. There are incredible benefits to hiring a strategic planning consultant, rather than going it alone. But choosing the right consultant for your organization can still be challenging.

Asking potential consultants a thoughtful set of questions can make all the difference. That’s why we’ve compiled some of the best questions clients have asked Funding for Good over the years.

Read more: Complete Guide to Strategic Planning Consultants


Interview Questions for Strategic Planning Consultants

When interviewing strategic planning consultants, the goal is to understand how the consultant works, how they facilitate stakeholder engagement and build consensus, what the process and deliverables include, and what the full cost for the proposed scope of work will be.

The top questions we recommend asking consultants are:

    • Have you worked with organizations similar to ours, including sector, size, and growth cycle?
    • Can you walk us through your proposed planning process, including roles, responsibilities, timeline, and outcomes?
    • What strategic planning model do you use? Is the model evidence-based?
    • What is your philosophy of stakeholder engagement?
    • How would you describe your facilitation style?
    • When facilitating planning sessions, how do you balance the potentially competing needs of ensuring full participation, building consensus, and navigating conflicts?
    • What do we, as organizational leaders, need to do to be successful in our strategic planning process?
    • What are the most common challenges you’ve seen organizations like ours struggle with during the strategic planning process?
    • What is included in your proposed fee and what are potential add-on costs?

Are you ready to start the strategic planning process?


Avoiding Surprises

There’s only so much you can learn about a potential staff member or consultant during the interview process. But there are red flags you can look out for:

    • Inability to articulate their approach to core strategic planning functions, such as facilitation, stakeholder engagement, and consensus-building.
    • Unprofessional or incomplete project proposal.
    • Lack of experience or unwillingness to provide previous client referrals.
    • Experience limited to organizations that are very different from your own. For example, if you’re a small business and the consultant has only worked with Fortune 500 companies.
    • Unclear pricing structure with excessive add-on fees. For example, does the consultant charge a day rate for travel?
    • Inability to provide support for potential follow-up services, such as designing implementation plans or facilitating regular strategic plan review sessions.

Looking for More Guidance?

If you’re in the process of evaluating proposals, our Guide to Strategic Planning Consultants further details exactly what to look for.

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