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.
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.
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.