By Frank Costantino
Under the right timing and circumstances, choosing a 3rd party consultant to work with your organization can be a positive and financially rewarding experience. Working with consultants? Some people have very strong feelings against consultants and we often hear statements such as “They steal your watch, then charge you to tell you what time it is.” OR, “They loaded us up with PowerPoint slides that don’t reflect our day-to-day business realities.” It’s true, many times organizations engage a 3rd party that is just not a fit due to expertise or expectations. There are some very good reasons to look outside your organization to rapidly achieve your growth goals. Here are six reasons to consider forming a partnership with a 3rd party consulting firm:
1) Staff augmentation –Companies often have short to medium-term staffing needs, and it is particularly critical when the need is at the executive team level. Consultants will “plug a hole” for the company by filling the role of full-time employees or fill the skill set requirement (see #4).
2) External change force (“political cover”) – organizations often struggle with the challenges of job layoffs, salary and benefit changes/reduction, in addition to major operational and strategic shifts. Hiring consultants with expertise in organizational effectiveness can be a way to reach the desired conclusions by ensuring all legal requirements are met as well as providing sufficient political cover preventing degradation of morale.
3) Best practices across industries and functions – Consultants have the rare privilege of:
Serving multiple clients in the same sector
Serving multiple clients facing similar problems across different sectors
This enables them to recognize common attributes of effective solutions, applying lessons learned in applicable situations. This knowledge is partially institutionalized at each consulting firm (in the form of white papers, databases, post-project reviews, etc.); however, much of the information exists in the collective heads of partners and to a lesser extent, senior consultants.
4) Analytical horsepower – An upshot to staff augmentation, organizations may need help solving issues and executing strategies where their skillsets and knowledge are insufficient. Consultants can be of great value given their training and capabilities. This is also the time to further analyze your needs. For example, will you benefit most from a boutique firm, one that may have specialized expertise on specific dimensions or a larger, more generalist firm?
5) Fresh perspective - Organizations often need a fresh set of eyes – you’d be amazed at the amount of value consultants can add based on the most mundane observations and insights. Critics contend that this is an example of consultants selling “glorified common sense”, but for front-line client employees, it can be easy to fall into daily routines and the associated “whirlwind” without time for a critical eye towards measurement, analysis, and improvement.
6) Training and skillset augmentation - Every consulting project – particularly ones with heavy client interaction – incorporate client training as a major ingredient. The best recommendations are worthless if organizations can’t implement and maintain suggested changes. Thus, a large part of what consultants do is educate their client employees on necessary knowledge, skills, and mindsets.
Organizations hire Butler Street for the six reasons noted above and one other critical factor in a successful engagement: Actionable Insights.
Diagnosing first and then implementing structured, repeatable processes on our findings allows for continued and balanced improvement. We call it Client and Talent Development. Perfected. For example:
Net Promoter Score is 6 or 8. What’s the difference? What specific actions shoud you take? Measure results.
Service issues. Learn how to use BLAST best practices to remedy issues and take action. Validate results.
High client satisfaction scores. No action required. Wrong! Take action and develop a cross-selling strategy to gain share of wallet. Document results.
Ask your loyal client to take action for you. Leverage them as a reference and/or a networking opportunity to grow your business.
Butler Street is a management consulting firm made up of process-driven, knowledge sharing executive operators who help you to achieve lasting results in the two most challenging areas companies face: client development and talent development. Our approach and methodology has been "battle-tested" for years and we have had the unique experience of being held accountable for the ROI we promised by our investors and our Board of Directors.
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