When To Use Global Consultants
And when not to
David Iwinski Jr.
When To Use Global Consultants
And when not to
For the past decade I have been engaged in consulting, primarily in areas of organizational growth, engagement with China, global mergers and acquisitions and sourcing for foreign capital. Along the way we have also done many purely domestic projects as organizations find pathways to grow both the top and bottom line. As you might imagine, I am an advocate for the use of consultants, but there are times when you are better to go without. Here are a few guidelines.
It’s a good idea to use consultants when:
Time is of the essence. Getting many hands on board and working on a project can be difficult to do, particularly when the domestic economy has low unemployment. Finding staff rapidly and getting them familiar with the needs of your project can consume so much time that often the opportunity can pass before a capable team can be deployed. Consultants can provide accomplished hands in an instant.
Specific expertise and experience are important to the execution of the project. Very often organizations embark on projects of corporate growth will need to venture into fresh areas and examine new markets, new products and an expanded supply chain. Even a highly capable team which has built the core business may find themselves in unfamiliar territory when trying to grapple with these three challenges simultaneously.
Your team is fully occupied with the day-to-day operation of the business. One of the hazards that companies face when doing unique and highly aggressive projects that require time intensive expertise (such as the acquisition and integration of a new company) is that focus on the new project steals time and focus away from the demands of day-to-day operations that have been highly optimized.
The existing team can use coaching and training to bring them to a new level. A consultant can supply extraordinary depth of experience and contacts that may not be present in the existing team and a skilled consulting team working with the existing managerial team over the course of a project may be able to train new skills and expand new areas of interest so that the existing management team has greater bench strength at the conclusion of the engagement.
The consultant has greater depth of international experience. When a high-growth project involves significant international components, working with people who are adept in the foreign culture, business systems and legal systems of that nation can prevent you from serious mistakes.
It’s a good idea not to use consultants when:
The existing management team has the skills and demonstrated capability, as well as adequate time for the new project. Sometimes when a business has been stable, the existing team can become a bit complacent, and a new challenging project that stretches their talents and capabilities may be just what they need to propel them to a new level.
The execution of the new project is not mission-critical. If the initiative desired by senior management is exploratory and not vital to the growth and success of the business, that kind of project might be best served by allowing some junior managerial staff to take it on as a project and allow them to demonstrate undisclosed skills and competencies.
The value of the new project to the company, if successfully executed, will be less than the cost of the consulting engagement. From time to time, I am approached by people asking if we could do various tasks that would assist them in some specific aspect of organizational growth. We enjoy working with new clients but often there is no clear identification of the long-term value of the initiative that would make a positive return on investment. Most consultants prefer to take on projects where there is significant long-term value, as those engagements are normally more rewarding and deliver the most satisfaction to both sides of the transaction.
The key to a successful consultant engagement is to identify the right time and place to utilize consulting talent. When used effectively, consultants can be an extraordinary benefit to a company, bringing in experienced staff with unique talent and saving time, as they boost top and bottom-line growth and solve problems without distracting the existing management team from the critical execution of day-to-day challenges.
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