Three Tips to Getting the Best Out of Consultants – By a Former Management Consultant

If you’re thinking of bringing management consultants into your organisation, you need to make sure that you do it on your terms, not theirs. Most consultancies employ bright, ambitious talented people, whose aim will be to sell you work. The author of this article used to work as a management consultant, and so is perfectly positioned to advise you on how to maximise the benefits of using a consultancy while minimising the costs. Read on for our 3 inside tips!

Tip One – Involve your Staff

Here’s the truth: it’s likely that the staff working for the consultancy that you invite into your organisation will be better than your own staff. The reasons why are obvious: if you’re an ambitious young thing who wants variety and challenge (not to mention a higher salary), you’ll sign up to join a consultancy rather than seek a career with a single company.

This means that a consultancy will be able to complete almost any task in your organisation better – and more quickly – than inhouse staff. However, when the consultants eventually leave (and unless you have an infinite budget, they will), all of the expertise that they have built up in your company will walk out of the door with them.

This is why it is vital that you stipulate – insist – that every project undertaken by consultants contains at least one member of your staff on the project team. Do like the Japanese did in the 1970s: try to assimilate as much knowledge as you can from others so that you can then do the same thing, but more cheaply.

Tip Two – KISS

KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid - should be written on the heart of every project manager. When in doubt, faced with two options, then other things being equal you should always go for the simpler path.

Unfortunately, consultants are, like you, only human, and will respond to incentives in a predictable way. The ambitious young management consultant will always opt for the more lucrative option, especially as complex projects give him or her a chance to justify his or her large fees.

Tip Three – Set the Agenda

Always remember – he who pays the piper calls the tune. If you want a system written in some obscure software package, then find a consultant who’ll do it. Any project involving external suppliers should put the needs of your organisation first, second and third.

Be assertive in meetings – remember, you’re paying the bills!

Conclusion

If you follow these 3 tips, you should avoid being fleeced by management consultants, and be able to use them productively!