Every year, billions of dollars are spent by organizations across all industries for consulting services. Consultants are often brought in to solve problems or be part of building a long term strategy. We can all appreciate that sometimes what is needed for clarity is to get an outsiders opinion, borrowing a third parties’ experience or relying on a consultant’s expertise in a very specific area. Strategy consulting is part art, part science and is led by the numbers and math. In today’s blog, we outline the Top 4 things to consider when engaging consultants in order to maximize the return.
You Get What You Invest
The old adage is true; You Get What You Pay For. Investment however goes far beyond the monetary. While you can find consultants in all price ranges, today’s investment will not be financial. The focus rather is on committing to the process. Engaging a third party professional is not about admitting defeat or a sign of weakness. So knowing it is done from a position of strength in most cases, go all in. Commit to getting the most out of it. Be engaged, roll up your sleeves and invest your time in ensuring the most value is taken out of the engagement.
It is important that both parties set very clear targets and Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s). You are investing precious resources. Time and money are both very valuable resources in any organization and unfortunately are in very limited supply. Ensure from the very beginning of any engagement that the firm you are working with is setting very clear, measurable performance checks. It is important that these measures or “tests” are unbiased and measuring quantifiable results. The intangibles are also important, but when it comes to KPI’s, tangible results speak the loudest.
Make It Easy
Not to be confused with “taking it easy”. Making it easy to work together is extremely important and often it is over looked. Look to leverage technology balanced with some good, old fashion business staples. Making it easy in large part is about ensuring there are clear processes, assigned responsibilities and detailed work plans so that nothing is left to assumption. As our own team is quick to point out, building rapport also plays an important role in making it easy to work with a group. We are all humans. By nature we want to work with and surround ourselves with people with whom we have a good rapport. Do not underestimate the value of this attribute in making working together easier.
Last but certainly not least, communication is what brings it all together. Open and transparent communication is what sets the foundation for a productive engagement, leads to efficiencies and generally makes for much stronger overall results. We have all worked on projects where we felt like every meeting another layer was peeled back from the onion and that we received information we wish we had known on day 1. Ask questions. Do not assume. If you are engaged in the process, be vulnerable. The good, the bad, the ugly… even the unknown. Effective communication is not built on pretenses.
The strongest strategy is not presented from one partner to another, but rather it is co-created. The strongest consultants are not bringing you answers, they are bringing you processes, experience and an ability to help forge a winning strategy together. No one knows an organization better than those who work in it every day.