How to make the most of consultants
Every business person seems to have a story, usually unflattering, about consultants.
For small businesses, they remain a cost-effective method to solve specific problems and manage programs. The key is the client must understand the rules of the game.
The common benefits of using a consultant are:
• Consultants serve as an objective third party. They bring a fresh pair of eyes to a problem.
• Cost control. You can use them only when needed and avoid the expenses associated with a full-time employee.
• Tapping into an expert resource. Consultants exist for every type of industry and problem. Why waste your time learning what they already know?
• Additional horsepower. Employers may have the knowledge of a subject but never seem to have the time to get the work completed.
Most of the negative experiences that occur during consultant engagements are a result of misaligned or poorly managed expectations.
Consultants normally observe, test assumptions, analyze and recommend steps to correct a problem. Implementation is the responsibility of the client’s management team or is included in the second phase of the consultant’s work scope.
Client satisfaction is the intersection of expectations and performance.
The best consultants spend extra time with the client to identify their expectations and their definition of a successful conclusion.
Ralph Hershberger is president of SCORE Southern Arizona, a nonprofit group that offers free small-business counseling and mentoring by appointment at several locations. For more information, go to scoretucson.org, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 505-3636.Need a cost control consultant? contact BottaBoom telecommunication auditing services at 1-866-FOR -BOOM (367-2666).