It’s no mystery that hiring a consultant can be an expensive proposition. Depending on the services you require, rates for an experienced consultant can run into the hundreds of dollars per hour. As such, the investment can add up very quickly even for the smallest of projects.
On the other hand, a consultant can provide tremendous value to an organization. In many cases, the benefits can far surpass those gained by a company using internal resources.
Consultants have knowledge and experience that can be brought to bear to help find the best solutions for your business needs. That’s not to say that you don’t have a wealth of expertise within your organization already. Most companies do, but often that institutional knowledge is limited to a specific industry, or even a specific company.
A consultant has the benefit of having worked with many different companies across many industries. This diversity of experience helps cultivate creative or unconventional ideas in a world where many fall into the all too common traps of “that’s the way we’ve always done it” or “that’s how it’s done in this industry”.
Hiring a consultant allows you to have an expert work on your needs without the complexity of hiring and managing an employee. Consultants are independent third parties.
Whether you hire a large, national firm like McKinsey & Company or a local, independent consultant, you will pay them as a vendor (or independent contractor). This relieves you of all the liability and expense of putting someone on the payroll, to say nothing of the daily management of an additional employee.
A consultant can bring a fresh point of view to your organization and provide an unbiased perspective of your systems and processes. As mentioned previously, consultants bring the experience of working with many companies across many industries. In addition, they haven’t lived and breathed your company as you and your staff has.
The unvarnished truth is that the longer we work in a specific capacity or organization, the easier it is to lose perspective. We start failing “to see the forest for the trees”, so to speak. That’s okay. We’re all human, so that’s to be expected. That’s also why bringing in a outsider that holds no preconceived notions can be a significant benefit.
A consultant is dedicated to the success of your project, allowing your staff to focus on their “real” jobs without additional distractions. How many times have you had a project fall by the wayside because you or your staff got caught up in daily issues? If you’re like most, the answer is more times than you can count.
A good consultant will always want and need as much collaboration and input from your people as they can get. With that said, your project stands a much better chance of being successfully completed if you have someone focused on driving the project and nothing else. This allows your staff to remain focused on their daily responsibilities the vast majority of the time, with minimal time required to participate in the process.
Consultants can react quickly to your needs and can scale up and down much faster than most organizations can with existing or new employees. If you came to the conclusion that the new project you need to implement would require 120 man hours per week, would you have the resources to allocate to it? If not, how long would it take to recruit and hire the right people for the job?
Consultants have their own resources ready to go to work for you. Even most small, independent consultants have relationships with other highly qualified people that they can bring in on a moment’s notice. Either way, when you hire a consultant, scaling up and resource allocation become the consultant’s problem, not yours.
Consultants can cost less over the life of a project than the long term cost of employees. You only pay for what you need, and for only as long as you need it. Sure, you can hire a new employee and assign them other tasks and responsibilities in addition to your project needs. However, when it’s all said and done, you’re still committing to a salary, taxes and benefits that are likely going to cost more.
The skill-sets required of a consultant can draw pretty large salaries in the labor market. To hire someone on that level, it can cost an employer well into the six figures. Perhaps a consultant will charge you $50,000 to complete your project. That certainly isn’t cheap but in absolute dollars, it’s still a far cry from hiring someone of the same caliber as a full time employee.
Whether you need someone to help you with a business plan or the implementation of a technology solution, ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether hiring a consultant is the right solution for your business. Just remember: good consultants will provide you with a free consultation, so all you have to lose is a little bit of time. While time is valuable, the potential benefits of bringing in someone who can help you improve your business will likely have a far greater value in the long run.