There are many types of consultants.
Some consultants strictly give advice. They may perform a study of the client’s internal processes, review their financials and submit a report detailing the changes the client should make to improve.
Some consultants provide additional staff that a client needs to augment their staffing needs for a temporary period of time.
Still other consultants serve the client by managing a major project for them. They may also provide advice and additional staffing that the client may need, but their main focus is on managing the project for the client.
As a consulting project manager, this last type is the one in which I’ve been most involved. Clients generally keep a staff sufficient to maintain their existing systems. But when a major effort is planned, they need to bring in an additional team to plan and execute it.
While they bring in the project specialists, their current staff is busy with their every day work. But, the consulting team can’t do that all by themselves. They need input from the various groups within the client. They usually need the business and IT teams – at a minimum – to be available to provide input.
Many companies make the mistake of trying to save money by doing a project themselves. When the client teams are busy with their own responsibilities, it’s easy to put the new project on the back burner.
For more information, see Client Relations for Consultants
A kick in the seat of the pants
Have you ever had a project around the house that you decide to save money and do it yourself? For example, let’s say you decide to finish the basement. You’re handy enough to frame up the walls, put up drywall and install a false ceiling, right? And why should you hire someone to do something as easy as painting?
But once you get deep into the project, you realize how much work is involved and how many responsibilities you already have. The project takes much longer than you anticipated. Additionally, framing a wall to be square and taping and mudding the drywall turn out to be a little more involved than your handiwork can handle.
Eventually, you lose interest and motivation and leave the project half-done.
Getting it done
If you had hired a professional – and responsible – contractor to do the work, they would certainly have required your input throughout the project for various questions. Though you were busy, you would have made it priority because the longer you delayed, the more the project would cost and the longer it would take.
Hiring an outside consulting firm ensures that they will have the time and know-how to get the project done on time. They also provide discipline to the client to give them a kick in the seat of the pants to provide the necessary feedback to help the consulting team complete 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 criticisms.