You Want What? When??
Help? Who needs help?
As a young professional, I was always skeptical when my company hired consultants. I always felt that they weren’t really part of the team, that they couldn’t possibly care about things the way we did. And, behind it all was my young man’s belief that I could get anything done, lift any load, climb any mountain.
“Not my job”
Over time, with greater work-loads, and broader responsibilities, I came to see a few things that led me to think a little differently. First, I saw that not all the young professionals working under me had the same willingness I did to regularly take on twice as much work as could be reasonably expected. Worse yet, some of these people actually said things like “that’s not my job”.
Help from outside
One of the first times I used an outside consultant was on a project related to the implementation of a new cost system. I was the Controller and, early in the project, I determined that the company’s chart of accounts was just plain unsuitable for what we needed to do. So, we needed a new chart of accounts. Fast.
I had a great accounting staff, but they were AR & AP clerks, and a few general accountants, and their plates were more than full already. I was stuck. I knew exactly what I wanted done, but we just did not have the resources to do it. I had used temps for plenty of assignments before, but this was too important to take chances on a failure.
We hired an outside consultant with a strong background in cost accounting, an ability to focus, and a will to work. I provided him with very specific instructions on what we wanted done and how. Long story short, it was a great experience and it changed my view on working with outside consultants.
The right consultant
Since then, I have worked with outside consultants many times on all kinds of projects. While I have come to agree, enthusiastically in some cases, that the concept is sound, I have also seen that it is crucial that you get the right people for your projects. There are a lot of consultants out there, and many are very good. And many are not. There is no reason to settle for folks who are not really qualified for the job that you need completed.
Today we see so many companies with forward-looking executive teams who know what they want to do, but are constrained by the lack of available manpower to get the job done. It is not that they do not have good people either.
The thing is, most companies are running very lean already, and most of the more talented folks at any given company have day-jobs that are already extremely challenging. Sometimes they just do not have the bandwidth to also focus on the continuous improvement or other special projects that senior management wants completed.
This is where the right outside resource can be a critical partner for your company. With a specialized skill-set that matches your requirements, and, perhaps most importantly, an ability to focus on the project you want completed, they can come in, get the job done, and get back out.
What about cost?
When it comes to cost, it certainly makes sense to work with people who will get the job done and done right. I have found that you can throw temps at a problem for months and get next to nowhere, while a highly qualified expert can help your company achieve its goals quickly. If your project is worth doing, it is worth doing right. If it is a worthy project, your return on investment will only be enhanced by using the best talent available.
Look at it this way, if you find the right consultant for a very important project, it is like making a great executive level hire; something that is always a challenge. However, with the consultant, you can un-hire him or her the moment your requirements change. No severance packages, no new org charts, no drama.
That being said, most mid-size businesses are not likely to be able to hire the McKinseys of the world. Fortunately, there are excellent consulting firms that specialize in this small to mid-size market. The key to choosing the right consulting group is to ensure that their capabilities align with what you want.
Generalist or Specialist?
Some consulting groups claim to do it all. Whether it is installing your next ERP system or revamping your purchasing practices, these folks do everything. We think it is probably a better idea to work with a consulting group that focuses on a few areas, and does them really well.
Experience and hands-on know-how are extremely valuable when it comes to the selection of a consulting firm. More than anything, you want someone who can hit the ground running and make an impact quickly.
At Hudson, we really only want to be involved in those areas where we excel. More than anything else, we want successful projects for our clients. We are not good at everything, but we think we are pretty great at what we do. We focus primarily on two areas: Business Analytics and Continuous Improvement projects.
One of our unique strengths is our background in both finance and operations. This allows us to fuse our business analytics and continuous improvement capabilities into a package of product and service offerings that most other small consulting firms cannot match.
Hudson can help
Let Hudson Business Analytics show you some of the exciting business analytics and continuous improvement projects with which we have had the good fortune to be involved. Learn more about the ways Hudson Business Analytics can help you improve your business.