You have an initiative to accomplish. You don’t know where to start and you are apprehensive about bringing in outside help. You have heard all the common biases: "consultant fees are so high”, “they don’t understand our organization”, “why can’t we just hire another employee instead?”, and the list goes on. To be honest, some hold truth to them. To be even more honest, the benefits of hiring a consultant will overshadow any of those biases. Let’s take a look at four answers to the question: "Why do I need a consultant?".
1. To Execute
Often times organizations lack the workforce resources needed for their change projects. When normal roles, obligations, and operations are taken into account, the necessary time required to focus on and execute new projects may not be there. Hiring additional resources may not make sense if the project is a one-time occurrence (which many are). Your consultant becomes a short-term, highly skilled, employee. This eliminates many of the costs associated with trying to fill the void with a full-time employee.
2. To Specialize
Consultants offer skills that your organization may not have. Consultants are specialized in many different areas that would be too expensive to hire a full-time employee to fulfill. Whether it is methodology, organization and process design, analytics, or specific software/technology expertise, a consultant is effective at addressing specific organizational needs. Having specialized consultants allows your teams to focus on what they are well versed in, while the consultant fills the gaps.
3. To Provide Perspective
Sometimes you just need an outside opinion. You are stuck wondering what decision is best, can’t agree on a direction, or aren’t aware of all the options available. Consultants bring experience gained from many different projects and organizations. They can present ideas or challenges you may not have thought of and help you lay out a roadmap to success. Consultants can offer opinions and feedback that others may be apprehensive to provide due to office politics or fear of not aligning with leaders/co-workers. An outside perspective allows for honesty and provides certainty that all options and pitfalls are identified.
4. To be a Buffer
If you have ever seen the cult classic “Office Space,” you will remember the outside team (the Bobs) brought in to evaluate performance, understand roles, and help leadership "right-size" the organization (aka fire people). While I won’t speak to that specific group’s effectiveness, the reason they were utilized is valid. Organizations are complex and sometimes fragile environments. Clients may need a shoulder to lean on when making difficult decisions that change their organizations and that can also impact their teams adversely. Having work done externally can reduce the emotion and politics that may tie up your initiatives. Organizations can depend on consultants to do the "dirty work", relying on their expertise to make tough changes as painless as possible.
As you have seen here, the four reasons above provide insight into why an organization should use a consultant for their changes and projects. Many of the reasons are benefits that cannot be duplicated by an internal employee. So, the next time you find yourself frustrated with the workload, intricacies and specialized skills, emotions, or office politics of a change project, look to a consultant. We cannot promise your team won’t still take a baseball bat to your printer, however, we will provide the expertise to deliver your project successfully.
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