I used to imagine consultants as “The Bobs” in the movie Office Space – two outsiders hired by a company to interview staff and help find inefficiencies in operational process – causing angst among employees who did not understand their goal or objective.
When I started my consulting business, I was concerned about the negative image that a “consultant” might bring as I was networking with potential clients. But after receiving feedback on a few completed projects, I saw how consultants can really bring the most value to an organization.
Many companies don't hire consultants because they have employees who fill every functional area to move them to the next level. Which is fine until those employees become overly taxed with too many projects and too many meetings to be effective. At that point, they are so focused on reacting to what’s happening now that they are unable to proactively make improvements to make their jobs easier.
Here’s where companies can get the biggest bang for their buck when hiring a consultant:
Extend your current team
Hiring a consultant who can work alongside your team members will be able to experience any pain points directly. For instance, someone who can fill the role of a business analyst, product or project manager, can easily identify, recommend and help implement any improvements that need to be made.
Those who can act as contractor and consultant—providing a service as well as guidance—will also have a more captive audience when providing recommendations because they’ve worked closely with the teams and built trust. Another benefit? Your team could learn something new from someone with different experiences and approaches.
Fill the gap on projects for any team or department
Consultants have worked with a wide variety of clients, projects, environments and teams in their careers. While some have a very specific expertise, others have the capability and flexibility of working across project types and departments, like IT, Payroll, HR, Marketing or other.
When a new, top priority project that needs immediate assistance comes up and internal teams do not have the bandwidth to take on anything new, the right consultant can get you over that hurdle so that you can focus on other tasks and, in turn, provide value across the board!
Provide a 30,000-foot perspective
Consultants who work on projects for multiple departments within a company will have the “big picture” and understand internal operational processes and gaps. They can provide an unbiased perspective and recommend improvements that encompass ALL cross-functional teams.
For example, a consultant could see challenges with how projects are being managed companywide. Siloed departments might not be aware how their projects impact other teams or the business in general. In addition, there might be an overall lack of communication between departments, ineffective resource utilization and operational inefficiencies. A consultant can build a plan to effectively address these types of issues.
Rather than thinking of a consultant as a high-priced, nice-to-have resource, consider the cost of hiring a full-time employee who is too busy to complete any one project and has no time to work on improvements. For example, the average salary for an experienced senior project manager in the U.S. is $118,865 as of January 20, 2020, according to Salary.com, with the range between $105,755 and $133,962. That doesn’t include benefits or the time it takes to get up to speed.
Now consider the fast return on investment you’ll receive by hiring an experienced, well-rounded consultant for the short-term who can easily step into a role to extend your team or fill gaps—and offer process improvements to make your team more efficient. It may just be worth the upfront cost.