Management March 27, 2013 Last updated September 18th, 2018 4,778 Reads share

Pros And Cons Of Hiring Consultants

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I will admit that I have a visceral negative reaction to consultants.  That is probably because I spent 26 years at Procter & Gamble and almost 10 years at Microsoft and both of those companies viewed consultants as a waste of money and time. 

Here was their rationale:

# 1. A lost opportunity

Having one of your high development prospects tackle a project to analyze a situation, develop alternatives and recommend a direction is a superb, stretching assignment.  You get to leverage the skills of a talented person and provide a growth experience for that person.  Using a consultant instead robs the organization of that opportunity.

# 2. The experience gained disappears

The consultant spends time doing the analysis, evaluating strategies, and then leaves when the project is over.  Yes, they write a report, but typically it is used as a reference.  The residual knowledge of the subject and related issues walks out the door.

# 3. No internal perspective

There is no way the consultant can have the degree of familiarity with the skills, values, priorities and operating framework that an internal person can have.

# 4. Overkill

While the consultant would never admit it, there is strong monetary motivation to be excessive in the amount of time and talent put against the task.

# 5. Biased

Since the consultants are in the business of generating revenue and profit, the project  is sometimes done in a way that a dependency is created that by may lead to further work by the consulting firm.

Given these negatives, I believe there are times when a consulting firm may be of help:

# a. The need for implementers

When a problem area has been studied internally, and a direction selected, there are times when you may need some extra bodies with certain skills to implement the direction selected.  A consulting firm can often be found where those necessary skills can be provided.

# b. The need for a sounding board

At times, when a project is being pursued, it is helpful to have an outside reaction to some of the options being considered.  Often a consulting firm can be found that has the skill set to be a valuable sounding board.

# c. Availability of trainers

Sometimes you are seeking out ways to equip a set of your people with certain skills.  It may be helpful to bring in some relevant consultants that can provide that training in an efficient and timely manner

In conclusion…Be Careful!  Yes, consultants can be valuable members of a company, particularly if you engage with them properly. They can contribute immensely, especially in scenarios where hiring a full time employee for a particular position might be an overkill. On the flip side, you can waste a lot of time and money using consultants, causing you to miss key internal opportunities. Study all of your options before you come to a final decision. Evaluate each scenario and what each option brings to the table. Then take a step back and determine what’s ultimately going to not only move the needle, but help you meet your long-term goals and objectives.

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Bob Herbold

Bob Herbold

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