There are consulting firms that treat their consultants like inventory. In their minds, their commodity consultants are the equivalent of cases of Coke. Whoever has availability on the bench (in inventory) are assignable to the next project that comes up.
In reality, each consultant has a unique set of skills and each client has a unique set of needs. This match-making needs to be done with extreme care. There are some skills that are in high demand – .NET developers, project managers, etc. – that many firms aim to have on their staff because of the likelihood of a client needing their skills.
But trying to fit a square peg in a round hole and hoping they’ll come up to speed quickly, frustrates the client as well as the consultant.
Fit is more important than availability
It costs more to go out and hire or contract with someone that fits the client’s needed skills for a project. Especially when you’re paying others to do nothing back at the office. In the long run though, finding the right people for the right job delights the client and makes for a satisfied project team that knows that all of their teammates have the right skills for the job.
There is always room for growth and learning on the job. Every consultant should be put in a situation where there is room to grow. But throwing them in the water to see if they can swim is just setting them – and your project – up to fail.
Good consulting firms provide their clients with honest resumes of their consultants and only offer ones that are available. Good clients interview each consultant and verify that they have the skills to do the job.
Work with the client
Fit is a critical factor for any situation. The consulting firm and the client need to work in lockstep to make sure that each member of the team is competent and can quickly add value to the project.
If you would like to learn more about working in consulting, get Lew’s book Consulting 101: 101 Tips for Success in Consulting at Amazon.com
As always, I welcome your comments and cricisms.