There’s an HBO drama series called ‘House of Lies’ that tells the story of a high-flying management consultant, Marty Kaan (played by Don Cheadle) who leads his team in their exploits to navigate the treacherous waters of competing consultancy firms and demanding assignments. ‘House of Lies’ is entertaining but, unfortunately, plays on many of the negative stereotypes that prevail about management consultants. Instead of delivering a solution to the client, Marty’s team’s focuses on invoicing the client for as much as and as long as possible. Nothing is sacred, not even client confidentiality, as long as Marty is able to maximize his team’s invoicing and successfully hop from one firm to another with the aim of setting up the ultimate ‘shop’. And of course, this ‘shop’ would be his own globally leading consultancy firm. On top of all that, there’s also the constant backstabbing which is rife among and within the consultancy firms in the series.
Although ‘House of Lies’ is just a drama series, it portrays consultants in a very questionable light, and with such a reputation, it’s a wonder real-life consultants are able to secure any business whatsoever!
The truth is that the majority of management consultants are highly ethical professionals who take their assignments very seriously and strive to deliver high-quality solutions that bring tangible value to their clients. I will now give 5 reasons why any organization should consider hiring a consultant to solve a strategic business or technology problem.
1. A fresh set of eyes
An outsider often sees things in an organization from a completely new perspective, which is an enormous benefit when solving extensive and complex problems. People within the organization often benefit from this, because someone who has been part of an organization for a longer period of time gets used to the way things are done and does not always see where improvements may be needed or even possible.
2. Consultants bring the benefit of experience
An experienced consultant brings all the experience they have gained in their previous assignments to solve the client’s problems. Consultants get to tackle complex problems for all kinds of organizations, and each case is an opportunity for a consultant to not only put their professional skill set to use for the client’s benefit but to also learn something new.
3. Consultants possess the strength of communication
One of the key skills of any consultant is the ability to communicate, both verbally and in writing. Excellent communication skills are a compulsory prerequisite for a consultant to do their job, because analysis and problem solving cannot even begin if the consultant is unable to exchange ideas and other information with the client or collect the necessary information they need for the analysis.
4. A consultant is a problem-solving professional
Consultants are professional problem-solvers and are hired to help change the status quo (preferably for the better!). The aforementioned fresh point of view, experience and communication skills all enhance the problem-solving process. Consultants step into a new assignment with an open mind-set, ready to study, listen, observe and – above all – synthesize. The client often benefits from this mindset simply because people in an organization need to focus on their daily routine in order to handle their work efficiently, which is why they don’t have the time to step back to analyze a problem. This is exactly where the consultant comes in.
5. If it’s not documented, it’s not done!
Documentation is an integral part of any consultancy assignment; the results of the consultant’s work are completely useless to the client if they are not reported in a form that can be stored and distributed. Documentation is the only way this can be done. Documentation is something that an organization may not put sufficient emphasis on if the work is done in-house, since client projects often require more attention and resources due to their direct impact on the revenue.
As in all endeavors, hiring an external consultant involves risks for an organization, but these risks can be minimized by ensuring the consultant is experienced and by arranging an initial meeting and a preliminary analysis of the client’s problem. In this way, the client can ascertain that the consultant is a good fit for the client organization both as an individual as well as in the way he works. If the consultancy service provider is a large established player, it is usually safe to assume that there is an internal vetting process in place that ensures clients are provided the best possible match for their needs.
At the end of the day, the benefits of bringing in an experienced professional to take a fresh look at your organization’s problems far outweigh the risks and often lead to a fruitful long-term relationship.
Amir Hassan has over 10 years of experience in management consultancy with a strong competency in business process analysis, modelling and development using the Business Process Modelling Notation (BPMN) standard. In his previous consultancy work Amir has helped clients align their processes with their business strategies and redefine their strategy to deliver better processes. Amir has worked with clients from various industries, such as manufacturing, construction, healthcare and professional services.
Read the previous blog by Amir Hasan, The 5 major costs of poor document management
Watch the webinar: Document management: the danger of chaos and the journey to order
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