4 Reasons Why Hiring Consultants Is Advantageous To You
Many businesses prefer to keep all of their work in-house. However, not all businesses have the in-house resources needed to grow their company. Simply adding more employees to your staff isn’t always possible, nor is it always the best option. Even companies with significant resources don’t always hire full-time employees when they need help. Instead, they often hire consultants, something you should consider doing for your organization as well.
Companies of all sizes hire consultants for a variety of different tasks, such as evaluating and improving business and operations processes, providing IT assistance, improving business strategy and management, helping to recruit new talent, or even assisting with sales and marketing strategies. So why should you consider hiring a consultant? These four main reasons are why hiring consultants can benefit your organization:
1. You Get An Outsider’s Perspective
Business owners and other individuals in leadership positions spend so much time working to drive the company to success that it can sometimes become difficult for them to identify issues in their own business processes or strategies. This happens when you’re too close to the problem or because you have too much on your plate to notice.
Consultants provide a valuable outside perspective. Not only are they capable of seeing issues that you may have missed, but they have worked with many other companies in the past, which means that they have experience dealing with similar situations or problems. A good consultant will be able to identify problems or areas that could use improvement and make recommendations to solve these issues.
You Can Avoid Internal Politics
Business owners who have shed sweat, blood, and tears building their companies from the ground up often have personal relationships with their employees that can make it difficult to make the right decision. For example, there may be some serious inefficiencies throughout the company that require the owner to reduce their workforce but they can’t accept this on their own. Or maybe the owner has a different opinion on a project than other individuals in leadership positions. A consulting firm can do a thorough evaluation and provide unbiased opinions.
2. Your Current Team Has Different Priorities
Asking your employees to take on more work can be asking too much. Your team should focus on their core responsibilities and other tasks that they take on shouldn’t deter them from these responsibilities. While they can help complete a project, it can derail what they were working on before, which could end up hurting you more than you imagine. By temporarily hiring a consultant, you can get the extra hands you need so that your existing employees aren’t distracted from their main responsibilities.
Your Employees Remain Focussed
Besides the potential issue of distracting your employees from existing responsibilities by burdening them with new tasks, you may also be requiring too much of your employees, especially if what you need done is outside of their experience and expertise. Not only can it result in a poorly done job, but you could be stressing your employees out, making their work environment much less comfortable than it should be. This could hurt their confidence and their productivity. Hiring consultants is a better alternative to complete short-term goals at a reasonable cost. Your employees can remain focused on what they were hired to do in the first place.
3. You Need The Skills Of Specialists
Many consultants have specialized skills. Freelance consultants will typically maintain a very specialized set of skills to maintain demand for their services. Consulting firms will make sure that they have consultants on their staff that have a variety of different skill sets to meet your needs. Your current team may not have anyone who can perform a certain task because they lack those specialized skills. If the project is on a deadline, then expecting one of your employees to learn those skills on the fly is unrealistic. Hiring a consultant to fill this need can be particularly beneficial in this case.
The Engagement is Temporary
If the skills you need to finish a project are for that project only, then permanently hiring a full-time employee for that specific task isn’t very cost-effective. Not only will you have to add them to your permanent payroll, but you’ll also have to provide them with a benefits package. And you can waste a lot of time looking for the right employee to hire. It’s even less cost-effective once the project is completed and you no longer need those specialized skills.
A consultant is the perfect alternative because you do not have to pay them benefits and you do not have to add them to your in-house payroll. You are paying for temporary services -- once the agreed upon work is completed, they no longer work for you.
4. You Can Focus On Nurturing Revenue Streams
Allowing a consultant to identify problem areas and come up with solutions or to work with your team to complete new projects using their specialized set of skills frees up time for your managers. Instead of spending their valuable time trying to identify problem areas, looking for solutions to certain issues, or trying to find a new employee who has the skills required for a new project, they can spend more time cultivating your company’s revenue streams.
What To Consider Before Hiring
There are plenty of advantages to hiring a consultant. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you should immediately hire the first consultant that you speak with. There are a few things to consider whether your organization can benefit from a consulting service and whether the consultant will fit your specific business needs.
- Your Goals
If you don’t establish your goals, you likely won’t use the consultant effectively. Your goals help identify exactly what you want to achieve by hiring a consultant. It will become difficult to determine how long you need them for since you don’t know what you need them for. You won’t even be able to judge their performance and whether or not hiring them was worth the investment if you can’t measure their work against the achievement of any goals.
- Your In-house Capabilities
Perform an audit of who you have on your team and what their capabilities are. If your team members have the skills that are needed and you think that they can complete your project in a timely manner, then there may be no need for a consulting firm. Consultants can benefit your company if there’s a specific skill set that’s required for a project that nobody on your team has or if you need the extra hands to complete a job by a certain deadline.
- Their Portfolio
Take note of the experience and credentials of the consulting firm before hiring them. A professional consultant should have a graduate degree in business or a related field at the very least. Look for consultants with some kind of management consulting certification as well as this indicates that they operate according to industry-specific standards and regulations. This information should be easy to find on their website--and if isn’t, they should be more than willing to share it with you.
While consultants often do not disclose the identities of their clients or the specifics of past projects in order to protect the privacy of their clients, they should be able to provide you with samples of their work that showcase their experience and capabilities. They should be able to provide at least one or two references of past clients who won’t mind vouching for them as well.
- Their Methods
Having the right skill set doesn’t automatically qualify a consultant for the job. Ask about their methodology as well and be sure that the way they work will mesh with your company’s own methods instead of clashing with them. The consultant’s methods should work to your organization’s advantage.
What To Consider When Hiring
Once you’ve decided to hire a consultant, take care of these items before they officially join your team:
- Set The Parameters
Write up a detailed contract that includes what the scope of the project is and how long they’ll be under contract for (for example, the duration of the project’s timeline). Detail how much they will be paid, who will pay it, and exactly what the consultant is being paid for. This contract should ensure that there is no miscommunication between your company and the consultant and will provide you with legal protection and potential recourse in case there are disagreements or issues during the course of the project or after it’s been completed.
- Conduct A Thorough Interview
Experience and expertise matter. But this doesn’t mean that a one-on-one interview isn’t necessary. First of all, you’ll want to make sure that they know what they’re talking about as far as their skill set is concerned. You can tell pretty quickly during an interview whether they’re being honest about what they can do. Secondly, it’s important that you get a sense of how they communicate and whether they are personable. If they’re working with your other employees, then they will need to be able to get along with them -- if they don’t, it can hurt your other employees’ productivity and create a poor working environment.
Communication is also incredibly important, whether they’re being tasked with a project that needs to be done individually (such as checking your IT infrastructure for security vulnerabilities) or working on a project with a team. Poor communication can result in miscommunication, which can cause all kinds of problems and delays to your project.
- Have Them Sign An NDA
Whatever reason you’re hiring a consultant for, you’ll need them to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement). Not only will they be working with potentially sensitive data that could be used against you by your competition, but you may not want your company’s capabilities or projects to be divulged to the public. Many consultants end up working for competing businesses as well. An NDA ensures their confidentiality since it’s legally binding.
- Introduce Them To Your Employees
Communication is key if you’re going to hire a consultant. If you don’t tell your employees why you’re adding a consultant to the team, they may take it the wrong way. They may think that you don’t think they’re capable of handling their responsibilities, which could have them fearing for their jobs and resenting the consultant’s presence, both of which can get in the way of their productivity. Introduce the consultant to your team and tell them exactly why you’ve hired them so that they understand that it’s for their benefit as much as the company’s benefit.
Maximizing Their Use
Although you’re hiring consultants for a very specific reason, keep in mind that while they’re working for you, you should work with them. Meaning, let them do what you’ve hired them to do. For instance, if they’re looking for potential security vulnerabilities in your IT infrastructure, allow them to recommend solutions to any issues that they uncover and let them implement those solutions as well. Finally, to get the most out of their work, make sure that you understand what your objectives are so that the consultant can work towards meeting that objective.
Hiring Consultants is Like Throwing Fuel on The Fire of Growth
It’s understandable why you might want to keep everything in-house, especially if you’re managing a smaller operation and have had success doing things your way so far. However, there are significant benefits to hiring an outside consultant. Even if your company is doing well, the use of a consultant can help you identify potential issues that you may not have been aware of, help contribute to new projects through a specialized skill set, and help find ways to increase efficiency throughout your organization. A good consultant can give your company’s growth the boost it needs.
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