The screening and decision on the further process for the company is done by the consultant.
The screening and decision on the further process for the company is done by the consultant. He/she is a very central person for the success of Early Warning and should therefore be a senior employee at the organization responsible for Early Warning.
He/she has the following important tasks, all with big importance for the quality, development and success of Early Warning:
- Initial dialogue and screening of companies
- Secure appropriate match with the right volunteer
- Dialogue with volunteers – knowledge of both competencies and personality
- Dialogue with lawyers
- Coordinating different partners’ work with the individual company
- Collecting experience allowing him/her to identify and formulate experiences, need for further knowledge and education, input to the training and other arrangements for volunteers
The profile of an Early Warning consultant
As mentioned above the consultant plays a very central role and has many and different types of tasks. Further he/she often meets a company owner, and often also his/her spouse, in deep personal crisis.
This means that he/she has to be able to handle company issues as well as personal and family issues simultaneously. One may define the most important abilities/competencies to be the following:
- Able and willing to meet people in personal crisis
- Crisis leadership: What can be done in order to make/keep the owner ‘on track’?
- Turn-around knowledge: What are the key elements to consider in evaluating if a turn-around is possible?
- Overview of insolvency: are there useful/possible solutions?
- Financing: What is possible, what is not? How do banks evaluate a given situation?
In short, the consultant must be trained and experienced in many fields. There is not a single profile or education that qualifies a person to be EW consultant, many backgrounds can be relevant. The following should be considered when hiring (or appointing) consultants:
- Interest, willingness and courage to meet people in personal crisis
- Experience as a company manager (and preferably as owner-manager)
- Ability/competence to quickly identify the most important questions in the individual company
- Flexible and open-minded person, not dependent on using same approach or tool in every case
- Experienced in consulting
Possible tools and inspiration in the screening process
You can find inspiration in some our more detailed descriptions mentioned below. Of course, from the beginning the consultant should consider whether or not the company is within the scope of the Early Warning programme.
The criteria may be different in different countries, but it should be noticed that also personal conditions may be relevant. Consultants will meet quite many cases where it is necessary to consider many and very different aspects.
You can find a paper explaining this topic here
A guide on how to handle the initial talk and screening meeting with the company owner can be found here
A more technical approach can be found here
To assess the turn-around possibilities you can get an overview of possible considerations in this paper here. This paper is mainly targeting the work of the volunteer advisors, but can also serve as inspiration for the consultant in the screening process.
The more analytical minded consultants might prefer a more technical approach.
In the next two links you will find a guideline to a GAP analysis and the corresponding Excel file:
Template & Guidline - Gap Analysis 20170907
Template & Guidline - Gap Analysis 20170917