Monthly Archives: July 2016

So many highlighters, so little time...

5 Assets an External Consultant Can Bring to Your Business

“What’s s/he got that we haven’t?”

This thought might have popped into your mind, if you work in a department or organisation where the need for a consultant’s services has come up.

Staff – and even senior management – can sometimes feel slighted, redundant and under-appreciated when news of a consultant’s impending arrival breaks. There can even be a real fear that employers consider internal resource to be dispensable.

However, viewing external resource as a threat is a common mistake, and one of the first things a good consultant does is to allay such concerns.

Apart from the fact that s/he brings certain unique assets into a client’s business when engaged, one useful way a consultant can douse suspicion and build relationships is to highlight that success cannot be achieved without those things intrinsically possessed by internal teams: knowledge of the internal company landscape, and relationships with stakeholders and experience.

Internal and external resources both have their purpose, and are far more complementary than you might realise.

Staff can feel under-appreciated - and even slighted - when news of a consultant's arrival breaks!

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So, what are the five unique assets an external consultant can bring to your business?

A Fresh Voice

It can be invaluable to your project outcome to have someone new with professional authority, who is not beholden to stakeholders or legacy systems. That freshness is often needed to effect significant change and achieve different results; it could be just what your business needs to make the jump from good to great!​

Expertise

A consultant often has skills that may not exist in your business. For instance, running a successful accountancy practice does not necessarily mean you or your team are equipped to identify redundancies in your existing processes, and then re-engineer them for better results. A specialised skill set is required to achieve the results you want, and it is well worth sourcing those skills externally and bringing them into your business, for a time.

A Different Perspective

In scenarios where the skills do exist within your business, you still can’t underestimate the value of bringing in someone free of the company history and preconceptions; someone who does not have any allegiance to "how we've always done it". Only then can you expect to reap the rewards of creativity uninhibited by such constraints, and benefit from ideas and solutions unrestrained by company culture and tradition.

Objectivity

A huge benefit of engaging a consultant is that s/he can be neutral. With no obvious skin in the game (beyond getting paid!), a consultant is best placed to review your business with impartiality, recommend relevant solutions and implement them, regardless of departmental or company politics.

Best Industry Practices

By virtue of their mobility and as a way of ensuring they remain in demand, you will find that consultants are obliged to keep abreast of best practices and changing trends. While your internal teams cannot always prioritise professional development, this is something consultants must do continuously to stay competitive! You can ensure your business benefits from this, by availing yourself of the services of a consultant.

These five assets could well make the difference between the success and failure of your next initiative.

I Don’t Need a Consultant in my Business, Do I?

What do you think of when you hear the word “consultant”?

Does it conjure up images of suits, running around an office putting together flashy PowerPoint presentations that run into an unconscionable number of slides? Spotty associates re-gurgitating information you’ve given them, unable to produce anything truly original?

That’s certainly the stereotype!

Needless to say, while this has been the experience of many, it hardly does justice to the true expertise the majority of consultants have.

Before I address the question in the post title, why don’t I tell you who I consider myself to be as a consultant?

I see myself as an independent expert with a specific set of skills, which I put to good use on behalf of my clients. In my case, those skills relate to business analysis and efficient change management, and my use of those skills has a valuable impact on my clients’ organisations, and helps them achieve their goals in a variety of ways.

Those ways usually involve one, or a combination, of the following: identifying opportunities to grow and improve their businesses; making relevant recommendations with respect to those opportunities; creating new business processes or re-engineering existing ones; modelling the business’s operations, either with a view to making them more efficient or assessing how incoming changes of any kind could have an impact; facilitating the smooth implementation of new projects, systems or ways of working; to name a few.

So who are consultants, really, and what do they bring to the party?

In his book The Management Consultant: Mastering The Art of Consultancy, business adviser Richard Newton defines a consultant as an independent advisor who adds value by helping managers identify and achieve beneficial change appropriate to their situation. I won’t attempt to de-construct it in its entirety, but the definition highlights a number of qualities you may find useful in your business at one point or another.

Independence

Never underestimate the value of a perspective which comes from an external and independent source, particularly when you need to address and resolve existing issues within your business. It’s natural for you and your team to become engrossed in running your business, but being that involved is also a weakness when it comes to having the objectivity to diagnose problems and finding solutions required to solve them.

Adds Value

The main reason to bring in a consultant is so they can add value. As part of agreeing terms upfront, you as the client may decide that the value be measured in monetary terms (e.g. additional sales of £2.5m); as a percentage (e.g. a 10% uplift in leads generated); or an outcome (e.g. new reporting system implemented and embedded by 31st December at a cost of £500,000; or a feasibility study delivered by a certain date).

Beneficial Change

It stands to reason that not all change is beneficial. The consultant’s role here is to, by virtue of his / her independence, objectivity and skill, ensure that any projects proposed or changes to be made in a particular area, will have actual benefit to the client’s business. Some businesses fall into a cycle of continually changing things; a consultant can help caution and point out the futility of a particular approach or initiative.

Still think you don't need a consultant in your business? These are just a few reasons why you might want to re-consider.

My Very First Blog Post

Hello there!

This is the very first Mastermind Strategies blog post, and I thought I would use it as an introduction and a means to give you a bit of background, tell you what we’re all about and perhaps, what you can expect to see and read here.

So, what is Mastermind Strategies, and who’s behind it?

Mastermind Strategies is a consultancy founded by me, Adanna Bankole.

I have had a successful career in business analysis and change management for more than a decade, and developed a strong track record of project delivery in the financial services industry during that period.

I now focus on working with established businesses across a number of different sectors, helping them deliver results that increase their efficiency and profitability.

What exactly do you do?

Mastermind Strategies is dedicated to helping your business be the best it can. We will help you identify opportunities to increase revenue and reduce inefficiencies, by improving the way you deliver your services. We specialise in analysing businesses and managing change of any kind, whether it’s driven by your people, processes or technology.

Mastermind Strategies specialises in analysing businesses, and managing change of any kind

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More specifically, some of our areas of expertise are:

Identifying opportunities to improve your business, and making recommendations on how you can put those opportunities into effect.
Re-engineering your existing business processes so they eliminate waste and are fit for purpose, and can address any specific challenges your business faces.
Ensuring you have a clear path to success by defining the right Target Operating Model for a department within your business, or the business as a whole. This framework helps you pre-define your vision, which is essential when undertaking a significant change in strategy.
Designing, analysing and documenting your project or programme requirements. You’ll need to define the scope of your project before you start nailing down the requirements…and we can help you do this too.
Managing and implementing change in your business. Whether it’s planning for a new business venture, delivering a report on the feasibility of a project, helping you choose a supplier, liaising with a range of stakeholders, facilitating workshops and helping your teams arrive at key decisions, or working with technical teams to ensure smooth implementation of a system, we help you manage initiatives in your business…in the most effective (and least disruptive) manner.

Who writes the blog posts?

I do! (There's a bit more about me here)

Though I anticipate there will be times when I ask my peers, clients or experts in other fields to write guest posts, especially when this benefits YOU. In time, this may grow to include team members and even third party suppliers, but we’ll see!

What sorts of things will you write about?

My intention is to share my views on the things I am passionate about: business analysis, facilitating change efficiently in businesses, strategies and technology that make a difference in the marketplace, entrepreneurship and start-ups, and of course, there’ll be updates on the Mastermind Strategies team, what we’re doing, projects we’re working on, clients we’re working with, initiatives we’re running and new products and services.

How frequently will you upload new posts?

The aim is to post a minimum of once a week.

We’ve all seen blogs which start off enthusiastically and slowly peter off after a few posts, only to crash and burn shortly afterwards. I’m going to work hard to keep this one going, regardless of how busy my week turns out to be.

My plan is to have a general “theme” every month – it could be Strategy, Business Planning, Defining Requirements – and majority of the posts that month will address a particular aspect of said theme, in a way that is relevant for YOU.

Will there be a Comments Section?

Not sure about this one at the moment. While I absolutely want your feedback, I need to ensure I can commit to giving commenters the responses they deserve in a timely fashion.

So there you have it; I hope this gives you some insight into what’s coming.

Thanks for stopping by to read this, and here’s to the first of many more posts!