Often, when I tell people that i am a management consultant, I get asked why companies hire consultants in the first place.
Though I hate to hear it, but the question makes sense: Think about it, do you find it puzzling why companies wouldn’t just solve their own problems. Be it cost reduction or a new market entry, why can’t the companies do it themselves.
The truth is, there are many reasons companies really need consultants (the reasons why I am able to stay employed working on some of the most amazing challenges in the business world!).
If you’ve ever considered becoming a consultant—or hiring one—read a little more below about how we, the consultants, can help companies out. These are just a few of the many more reasons companies seek consultants.
Organisations Want an Outside Eye
Have you ever experienced a situation were you’re dealing with a pressing issue in your life and you turn to friends or family for their opinions? Companies often need this, too, especially when they need to make tough decisions. Often our clients may have a perspective on how to solve the problem they are facing but want to make sure that what they’re thinking is correct . So, they turn to consultants to come in and provide their opinion.
But this isn’t just any opinion: Consultants often work with many different companies and may have worked through such a problem in the past with a different organisation.This is the reasion they can really provide a perspective based on what they’ve seen work (or not) before. Given this experience, consultants can often bring new and innovative ideas or possible challenges to the table that clients probably wouldn’t have been able to see on their own.
Companies Need Extra Horsepower
There are times when the problems companies have to resolve are really important, but they don’t have the required manpower to focus on them. Companies still have to focus on their day-to-day operations and new projects typically require reprioritising the core responsibilities of employees’. however, hiring new employees doesn’t always make sense either, both from HR and financial perspective. Whether it’s a cost reduction program, launching a new product/service etc… clients might struggle to get the teams in place to do this critical work.
This is where consultants basically serve as temporary, highly skilled resources. We’re not full-time employees of the company, so it is often cheaper to use us than hire someone new (we may charge high fees, but we complete the project and move out, therefore we are a cost only for that duration). Because we switch around companies often, we’re used to the fast learning curve, and on-boarding us is easier. Most importantly, by using consultants, companies don’t have to pull their employees away from their actual jobs. In fact, during this short duration, the consultants can actually help the regular employees learn a lot.
Organisations Want Specialised Skills
Another, and perhaps the most common, reason that companies hire consultants is to gain access to a specialised skill set that might not exist in house. By engaging a consulting firm, you get access to a group of professionals that has skills ranging from Lean Six Sigma, process design to finance & organisation structures. Consultants are highly specialised people who would not only be expensive to hire, but the company might not have enough work to keep these people, with specialised skill sets, busy all year round. Thanks to consultants, companies can bring in that skill set on demand when they need it.
They Want a Safe Zone
When companies are working on a challenging problem or a controversial project, it can become difficult for them to make decisions or take necessary action without getting enfolded in politics or emotions. This is the right time to bring in consultants to provide an unbiased eye and do some of the dirty work for them.
Remember Up in the Air , George Clooney was engaged to go around the country conducting employment termination interviews on behalf of his clients. Likewise, clients might engage us for major challenges or controversial projects so that they can ensure handling by an external resource that’s both experienced and a unbiased and throughly professional about it.
So you see, consultants really support companies in a lot of ways—and as a consultant we get to dig into a lot of tough situations. It’s not easy work, but for problem-solvers like me, it’s exciting work.