Should My Company Hire a Consulting Firm?
Consultants vs Employees
With the speed of change in business increasing at a seemingly exponential rate, the idea of outsourcing pieces of work within a company makes more sense than ever. But, how does a company know what initiatives should be added to the plate of in-house staff and what makes more sense to be allocated to an outside firm? Herein we take a look at some of the decisions faced by companies when determining if their needs require outside help, why the decision to bring in a consulting firm was made, and how that decision helped to reach the goals put into place by the company’s leadership.
First, we need to have an understanding of what a consultant fundamentally does. Consultants may simply seem like temporary employees because of the hands on nature of their work, but the truth is that they hold a great deal more value when closely examined. Most businesses have desired projects to undertake that either require more time than currently available or more specific expertise than they maintain in-house. These are the primary voids that consultants fill when hired onto engagements and can include strategy, technology, HR, financial, marketing, operations, and other focuses.
The first decision to make when considering hiring a consultant is whether or not you are comfortable with the internal ability to identify fundamental business needs. Sometimes, startups and small businesses run so lean that they are confined to the knowledge of industry- or product-specific experts that make up the leadership team. In these cases, an absence of business acumen may reduce the ability to identify appropriate key performance indicators within the company. If this is a concern for your small business, bringing in a consulting firm with experienced professionals to help provide guidance on overall strategy and implementation is most likely a worthwhile investment.
Many companies feel comfortable with their business knowledge and independently setting their own initiatives for growth but still decide to bring in outside help. It is important to determine whether your company can ensure that the personnel assigned to carrying out the strategy are not too close to the problem they want to solve. Consulting firms can bring a fresh set of eyes and provide insight into those obstacles to either validate or realign growth efforts. Consultants have usually solved similar problems with other companies and can bring innovative knowledge to the situation without a tough learning curve.
Another decision to make is whether the current staff has enough time to undertake a new project without negatively impacting day-to-day operations. For example, creating a new marketing campaign may require research on a new industry, product and customer and could entail weeks or months of background work depending on the sophistication of the new campaign. If a company only has 10 employees, a decision must be made about which staff member will be responsible for the additional tasks. Sometimes a firm brings on one consultant for years at a time and other situations may require bringing in 10 consultants for one week. So, if a new internal process requires added labor, often it makes sense to bring in a consulting firm to quickly add horsepower with quick-learning and adaptable consultants instead of hiring and training new employees or taking current employees off of other mission critical tasks.
Not all decisions are easy to make; particularly if they require admitting that current staff are not fully equipped with the skillsets needed to solve your company’s toughest problems. This is one of the most common occurrences that companies decide to bring in consultants for. Hiring a group of professionals that have specific abilities that are valuable to a new project can be the best plan for a couple of reasons. It may be very expensive to hire these employees full time because of the level of education and experience they hold. And, it is often very unlikely that upon completion of these projects that a company maintains the need for those specialized skills. Most employers would prefer to bring in those talented employees as consultants with an initial understanding of the temporary nature of the work.
It is no surprise that some decisions face potential backlash from employees, management, and investors. These situations can include employment terminations or other controversial projects that need to be judiciously explored. In these cases, some companies decide to bring in consulting firms to objectively identify the best path to pursue and are able to avoid disruption in sensitive political or emotional environments. This is particularly useful for leadership attempting to push a non-conventional agenda without risking their reputation or staff quantities.
Any one of these decisions alone may be enough to determine that hiring consultants makes sense for your business and if you want more insight into how to make internal decisions or have further questions, please comment below or contact SEO Consultants today for more information.
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