While business people typically have a broad range of skills, with perhaps some specialties; changes within the business, in the broader economic climate, or other unforeseen circumstances, can create a need that can’t be met with the existing skills within the business. When that occurs, employing a specialist consultant can provide the skills necessary to deal with the situation as well as an objective viewpoint that can help to effectively focus the team.
This is the first of three posts about needing, selecting, and managing a consultant. And in this first post we will quickly examine why you might need a consultant. At the end of this post, you can make an ‘in principle’ decision on whether to engage a consultant, or not.
First though, I must ask you to ‘support’ this definition of what consulting is about – a relationship in which an outsider makes his or her skills and knowledge and experience available to an enterprise in an advisory role, including implementation.
And the key word here is implementation – the outcome/s of any consulting project must be implementable.
There are seven main things:
And the last three, are the mark of the ‘better’ and more effective consultant.
These are the 12 most common needs for consulting help:
And of these each needs, can be broken down into six parts:
Having defined a need for consulting help, we then consider the consultant’s role in addressing these needs, and there are five:
In practice, the consultant’s project role is typically a combination of #2 (the Expert in the room) plus one of the others.
There are four main types:
In practice, most small businesses require a type #1 or #2, occasionally a #3 (eg HR – psychometric testing) and rarely a #4 (these are the big firms, eg IBM, Accenture, used by the largest organisations).
As you can see there is a lot to consider in why you might need a consultant. And I contend that many of the ‘bad consultant’ stories I hear, are as a result of not giving these considerations due care and attention.
So, your first decision is to make an ‘in principle’ decision on whether or not to engage a consultant to address the needs that you have.
So it’s not a final decision, as you may feel that you can address your needs with your own resources and that’s clearly OK. This decision just says we are going to move to selection, which is where a final decision on engaging a consultant will be made.
I want to hear your ‘good consultant’ story … so please quickly work through these considerations … shouldn’t take much time.