Follow these rules of the road when hiring a consultantQuestion:
I need some help in filing some holes in my long-term goals and plans. Are consultants worth hiring?
In today's flatter organizations, outside assistance is used more often -- managers tend to have a feeling that an outsider's perspective will help focus them for the future.
The emergence of technology in the company structure is increasing the demand for consultants because many companies don't know what they're doing when it comes to technology.
This presents a problem: Rushing to get the apparent problem solved by using consultants without seeing the bigger problem. They don't plan enough, don't completely identify the problem, and they end up working on things with the consultant they never intended.
A recent survey by Sales & Marketing Management found that 50 percent of the respondents were somewhat satisfied or not satisfied with the work of the consultants. That's way too high a dissatisfaction number for a service that can cost thousands or hundreds of dollars.
Imagine being unhappy with the work of a barber or a house-cleaner. You'd fire them immediately. Unfortunately, this no-bull idea doesn't often apply to consultants.
Bill Ennisse, vice president and general manager of U.S. customer operations for Xerox Corporation, explains it this way: "You can't just put a company in the hands of a consultant and expect to fix anything. More likely, it will end up killing the company, its employees and its customers."
Here are some rules to follow when hiring and working with consultants to ensure that those relationships pay off:
Bill Bryan is a counselor with the Service Corps of Retired Executives. SCORE offers counseling, workshops and seminars on small business operations. You can reach Bryan through SCORE, 515 N Court St. 815-962-0122, for information and appointments.
SCORE is a registered trademark of the Service Corp of Retired Executives
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