“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!
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!
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.
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.