Revolutionary Measures

Time to bring in the consultants

As a PR and marketing professional I’m often taken aback by the response to mentioning that I’m a consultant. Across the business world consultants generally get a pretty bad press – in fact, one positive point of the economic crisis is that bankers have displaced consultants in the most hated stakes.

The general impression of consultants is of expensive individuals who parachute into a company (or organisation), fail to take the time to understand the business problem, recommend change that is either impossible to implement or requires more expensive consultancy and then swan off in their BMWs waving cheques in the air. And yes, there are organisations that bring in 20

year olds straight out of university to tell you how to run your business (or scarily, govern the country).

But all the consultants I’ve met, whether finance, marketing, IT or business-focused aren’t like that. They combine skills and experience to help organisations grow – and they aren’t as expensive as the scare stories like to make out. Here are five good reasons that consultants deliver results:

 

1          Skills you don’t have
Not many businesses (unless they are multinationals) have the skills in-house to do everything outside their core functions, particularly in current economic times. Consultants fill these gaps, whether it is helping with change management, social media or IT. After all, as managing director you don’t want to be learning programming skills to build your website.

 

2          Value for money

Consultant day rates can look expensive – but you are only buying the time you need. For a start-up to employ an experienced financial director would be economically unfeasible, but bringing someone in for a couple of days a month delivers value without breaking the bank. And you don’t need to pay the hidden costs of employing someone such as National Insurance, pension and benefits.


3          Knowledge transfer

Smart organisations make sure they get real value from consultants by learning from them. Get them to train people as part of their assignment and not only do you increase your skills base but you gain even more value from them.


4          Networking

Good consultants spend their time talking to lots of organisations and individuals, learning what they are doing and storing away information and contacts. And they can then use these contacts to help you – whether it is bringing in new partners, sales channels or resource that can help.


5          Independence

Consultants should be (by their nature) independent from the organisation they are working with. This means that they provide a realistic view that isn’t clouded by being too close to the business itself – particularly if they are from smaller consultancies or are just one man bands. It does mean you can blame them for unpopular decisions, but as a business leader you’d surely be better doing that yourself?

I don’t for a minute claim that every person that claims to be a consultant delivers all these advantages, but good ones do – and deliver value way beyond the initial investment.

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February 1, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , ,

6 Comments »

  1. Spoken like a true consultant Chris!

    I mostly agree with you but consultants must have got their reputation of bad value from somewhere. Mention the word to many people and you get a rolling of the eyes at best, or a stream of anglo-saxon at worst.

    Like most things its probably just a few badd’uns that have tarred us all with the same brush. One of the least popular job titles in the UK I’d wager.

    Comment by Paul Allen | February 1, 2011 | Reply

    • I think the bad value comes (mostly) from big consultancies who bring in junior people who’ve not got a clue and charge the earth. There’s definitely a PR job to get across the value that is delivered – and stronger regulation to kick out the bad apples.

      Comment by Chris Measures | February 1, 2011 | Reply

  2. I worked for and partnered with large multi-national technology businesses for 28 years, often selling IT consultants into businesses at high day rates (of course, they all delivered value!).

    During that time, I developed skills and experience across the business spectrum, and across most industry sectors, which are valuable to companies which don’t have/cannot afford such high value skills, wouldn’t get the same value from someone young and cheaper, and do not need someone full-time and permanent; yet.

    I am now a freelancer, working with some like-minded friends to offer our experience and skills to SMEs and even large businesses.

    We have work/life balance, earn a reasonable living, and our clients get very real value from us …at very reasonable rates. Win/Win!

    Comment by Lou Valdini | February 3, 2011 | Reply

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