The Use of Business Consultants
Many businesses, particularly those companies with many employees, fight shy of using business consultants and consultancy services generally. In reality this may be short sighted and I want to look at 8 reasons why it can make sense to use a consultant.
If you are a company of any size then you’ll have a large number of employees. Each one of these will come with their own view of what the problems and issues are within the company and many will not hold back in voicing that opinion.
The problem here is that being employed within the company will mean that they may have an axe to grind and have specific personal motives for a course of action.
A good consultant will be completely independent and will not be swayed or influenced by internal politics and opinions. The best ones will use data that they have verified in order to make decisions and recommendations.
Experience and Skill in Resolving Business Problems
Most good consultants have experience in a wide range of businesses and industries. This will give them a view of business issues and problems that is simply not available from employees and staff internal to a business unit. They will be able to dissect a problem quickly and efficiently and then propose solutions that are pragmatic and measurable. You can read our skills and experience by clicking here.
Augment Existing Employees
A number of companies are going through change processes and this can be painful for all those involved. There are certain senior jobs that need to be done but they don’t want to employ someone on a permanent basis and carry the employment costs. In this scenario it can make sense to use a consultant to ensure the role continues. They will be able to hit the ground running, being experienced and skilful, and also have no predetermined negativity to the changes being made.
Manage the Politics for a Major Change
Businesses make changes in an attempt to improve efficiency and profitability. As a result there may be redundancies or large-scale operational changes and these will inevitably be met with resistance. This resistance might come from employees, trade unions or even layers of management.
Using consultants can therefore provide a way to “sell” the required changes in a neutral way, which will take the sting out of the effect on team’s and individuals. The message might be “Consultants XYZ have examined the issues and presented their recommendations. We believe that these should be fully implemented to achieve the desired results”
Provide best practice
Many business consultants have vast knowledge and expertise in a particular function or industry. This experience often extends to many different businesses and therefore they are ideally placed to offer best practice. Sometimes the solution to a business problem has common attributes across different business sectors so the consultant’s knowledge and ability can ensure that the problem is resolved quickly and with minimum pain to the business.
Sometimes a company might not have the skills internally and they recognise that they have to buy the expertise, albeit on a temporary basis. You have to recognise that the larger consultancies will bring breadth of knowledge whilst the smaller consultancy will likely bring depth of knowledge.
A Different Perspective
You may think that the solution to a problem is just “common sense” but very often common sense is not so common! In these cases a fresh pair of eyes can add lots of value, particularly since existing employees may have fallen into a daily routine that lacks objectivity and analysis.
Adding Skills to Existing Employees
Consultants are transient by the nature of the job. In many cases they can train and develop existing employees so that when they have completed their work the business can continue the improvements. Some consultants also provide mentoring for existing employees who may lack specific skills. This is particularly good value since a good consultant will spend time with the employee and then leave them with development tasks to discuss when they next meet.
Finding a Consultant That Meets Your Needs
It’s important to find the right consultant since the wrong one may do more harm than good. Consider the issues you want the consultant to address, the clearer you can make this the better your chances of finding someone who can add value to your business.
If you are not quite sure and simply want to discuss the issues in more detail then the better consultants will certainly be able and willing to have a telephone conversation or even pay a visit. You should not expect to be charged for this since it’s normal business development activity for them. You can request a free telephone consultation by clicking here.
Once this initial meeting has taken place you will have a much better idea if they can help you and also if they have a personality and demeanour that will work in your organisation. Don’t be afraid to talk to a few consultants, firstly over the phone and then, for the ones that seem to be a good fit, invite them into your business for a more in depth discussion.
If you know of someone that has used a consultant recently and is willing to recommend them then take a good look since this is an excellent way of finding someone to help.
Failing a personal recommendation, try a Google search that accurately describes what you are looking for in simple terms. As an example you may want someone to look at your global supply chain so use this as a search term – “global supply chain consultant” and see what you find.
Another useful way is to look on the various consultant body websites:
The Institute of Consulting
Chartered Institute of Management Consultants
You’ll find that the right consultant will focus on value. Yes, the fees sometimes appear high when compared with staff salaries but remember that you are paying for knowledge, skills and, most importantly, the ability to make a real and measurable difference by taking action.