5 Ways Consultants Can Add Value
Seagull consultants... we’ve all heard the stories, the long laments about the costly experts who fly in, make a lot of noise, poop all over everything, then fly out again having added absolutely no value.
Fortunately, in today’s competitive market, the seagull consultant is, or should be, a thing of the past. The consulting experts who remain are those who understand the importance of not just knowing your stuff, but also of delivering genuine value to clients and a robust ROI that stacks up against alternative options.
So what exactly should a business expect from a consultant?
Let’s start with defining what ‘consulting’ actually is.
The common definition is along the lines of ‘giving expert advice to people working in a specific field’, which is broad at best, and reflects the fact that consulting entails a variety of skills, tasks, activities and variables across a vast range of industries and sectors.
But it’s also more than just providing advice. There’s a vast number of ways consultants are able to add value to your business, and here at Be Intelligent we like to focus on five key value propositions:
Assisting with strategic decisions
Providing advice based on best practice, experience and industry knowledge
Providing specialist skills
Supplying short term resourcing for a project.
Not all businesses have the time or resources to take an in-depth introspective look at their systems, processes and strategies. A fresh perspective from an outsider can not only cover that resource gap but also offer an objective and neutral viewpoint, which is helpful when trying to understand what is causing under-performance or inefficiencies.
Consultants also have a breadth of experience, skills and industry knowledge having very likely come across similar problems at other businesses, which means they also come armed with the experience of how best to tackle those specific problems.
Assisting with strategic decisions:
While businesses are entirely capable of making the everyday decisions within their areas of expertise, every now and then they find themselves in uncharted territory. Rather than muddle through and make decisions based on best guesses, it makes sense to bring in the experts who have helped businesses make these decisions before and can guide them through the process by assisting with business cases, board proposals, platform reviews, technology roadmaps and more.
Providing advice based on best practice, experience and industry knowledge:
One of the most common reasons a business engages with consultants is because they have the specialist expertise, experience and industry knowledge required for a specific project that isn’t always financially viable to obtain or develop from within the business.
This is why technology consultants are popular to involve when it comes to implementing new software. It can be a daunting undertaking, and having a consultant on hand provides significant efficiencies in guiding the business through the implementation, offering best practice advice to prevent common pitfalls and implementation failures. Bringing in a consultant enables a smooth project delivery for the desired outcomes and knowledge transfer at the same time.
Providing specialist skills:
Consultants have generally honed their skills to become specialists in their field over a number of projects, engagements and years in their role. However, what makes consultants truly valuable is having those specialist abilities combined with significant industry experience. This means they not only have the experience to come up with the most relevant strategy, but also have the required skill set needed to deliver the goods.
While you may have to pay a premium for the use of a consultant’s specialist skills, it is usually a more cost-effective and efficient way to deliver a project, compared to internal teams learning as they go.
Supplying short term resourcing for a project:
Due to the depth and breadth of their experience or specialist skill set, consultants can hit the ground running, typically requiring a minimal initial investment of time to ensure thorough understanding of the business and project goals before they can start adding value. They provide the exact level of resourcing that’s required to deliver a specific project, optimising use of time and personnel for maximum efficiency and minimum waste. This allows businesses to focus on what they do best, avoiding the need to second or hire permanent resource for a project.
So, if you’re currently weighing the value of a consultant against tackling a project with in-house resource, bear these factors in mind and don’t be afraid to ask your prospective consultants to address the value question directly. You should be able to see a very clear, even quantifiable value proposition before you get to the contract stage, and certainly well before the initiation of the project. If you can’t, then you might just have a seagull on your hands.