Consultants sometimes have a bad reputation with management experts, and often face criticism regarding the cost of a few weeks of work (sometimes in the millions), or for being paid to tell leadership teams what they already know. However, there are a number of reasons why businesses benefit from consultants.
It can be hard for existing management or employees busy with daily tasks to take а step back and analyze a potential problem in their business or office. Consultants offer а fresh set of critical eyes that can help with measurement, analysis, and improvement. Critics might write this off as glorified common sense, but new insights and the ability to identify underlying issues do add significant value to operations. А fresh perspective is critical to а company restart, or to new business ventures where employees or management are too involved with the project to recognize possible issues.
Functions and Levels
The consultant or firm will, in most cases, build а fact base over а period of а few weeks to а month. Typically, they’ll interview people across the board, as well as observe daily routines. Consultants will often start with the organization’s customers (if possible or relevant) and then they work up through sales and line roles. This information offers lots of insights into the company that the executive team might miss or lack the time to investigate themselves. Interviewing people across functions can also help foster creative problem-solving (something that rarely happens in larger companies). It’s а good idea to have а consultant on board to unlock this kind of insight.
When hiring а consulting firm, you’re hiring а dedicated group of people with one objective: to solve your problem. Having someone (or multiple people) who can focus their attention on а defined project is a valuable asset. In many ways, they’re better able to make observations and efficiently assess and improve the company than current employees, who already have plenty on their plates.
Consultants have also likely served multiple clients before you. They can recognize problems quickly and apply lessons learned in previous cases. They possess an expanded knowledge base that can be valuable to your company. They also belong to networks and associations that give them access to resources you likely don’t have. Given their training and skills, consultants are quick learners, capable of understanding a problem and developing а strategy to solve it and help a company achieve its objectives.
Consultants can give advice through а more objective lens. They’re independent from the organization, so there’s no hesitation to give unbiased observations and recommendations. This is in part why companies choose to hire outside consultants rather than rely exclusively on internal feedback; those within an organization can be conflicted or sometimes hesitant to give accurate recommendations for fear of being harsh.
External Change Force
It can be difficult for executives or CEOs to do what’s right for their company if it requires changes or reductions in benefits, major operational changes, or even layoffs. It may seem like an easy way out, but many companies hire consulting companies to do the “dirty work.” ln а sense, the consultant or firm becomes the scapegoat for those who want to distance themselves from making certain people in the company unhappy while reaching the company’s goal. This provides political cover for senior management, and if something goes wrong, the consulting firm can take the blame.
Implementation and Training
As an executive, you have а lot of things on the go; you don’t have time to train everyone on adopting new technology or implementing new strategies. Almost every consulting project incorporates client training. This means whoever you hired to do your consulting will educate your employees on necessary skills, knowledge, technology, etc.
There’s no point in receiving recommendations if employees are unable to integrate and maintain suggested changes. ln this way, consulting firms add enormous value to your company. Not only will they tell you what’s wrong, they’ll equip you with the knowledge required to overcome the problem and reach your goal.
There’s а reason why consulting companies rake in $2 billion а year. Generally, business consultants help companies and small businesses improve performance and streamline operations to become more efficient. They identify problems and create solutions, as well as provide objectivity. They’ll also do some unpleasant tasks for you, such as eliminate staff, and they know how to get the ball rolling when it comes to revamping your company. Consultants offer much more value to offer a business than just advice.
Helen Jacob | Contributing Writer