You have plenty of experts within your company, already on your payroll. So, why should you hire a consultant?

In my experience, there are two different reasons companies look to consultants for help.

First, you may be looking for an outside perspective. Decision-making within companies can sometimes result in a mess of politics, as employees can have their individual agendas, preventing the choices from being pragmatic. For example, a network supervisor may recommend purchasing millions of dollars worth of hardware in order to make employee smart cards work with their in-house security system, when all that is required is a bit of custom software. Even if a software manager is able to influence upper management with this idea, it may be difficult for upper management to choose the best approach, as each may have its merits. Thus, an outside contractor can make a recommendation free from politics, and without putting their professional reputation on the line within the company.

Second, to put it bluntly, you may need to just get something done. A consultant can come in at any point of the development lifecycle, and contribute to the effort in a meaningful and expedient way. Maybe all of your current employees are busy with other priorities, or lack the training to perform the task you need completed right now. Maybe your HR department is taking too long to vet new hires, or your hiring and training process itself is too slow for your purposes. The important thing is, you need a project started and completed immediately, and actually could have used it months ago.

A good consultant can fulfill both of these obligations at once, and he or she can do it by having great expertise. Expertise is knowing what a client needs, recommending the best path toward fulfilling that need, and then actually doing it. Expertise is paying attention to the cues for why they are needed and then going above and beyond to work with others on the important stuff. Expertise is only focusing on the important stuff, because that’s what the best consultants are best at: adding value to your company, not getting lost in the bureaucracy of it.

Posted Tue 11 March 2014