Today, many enterprises of all sizes fall back on services of external consultants. This allows to bridge bottlenecks by interim management, to increase knowledge and quality by coaching and training or to deal with questions and achieve objectives by project consulting simply, efficiently and effectively. But is the achievement of a KPI target or compliance with a project term the only objective a paying customer should pursue?
Let’s assume the objective is a summit photo. Some customers of the day-to-day consulting business send the committed consultant with all know-how and the drive he provides for the formulated objective. The consultant takes the summit photo and comes back. Mission fulfilled. Others, in turn, integrate the consultant into their own organization. Following de Saint-Exupéry, they let him preach the desire for the view of the mountains, propose the right equipment for the trail and work out the best ascent route according to the customer’s abilities. During the common ascent, the customer team can then continue to be formed, with the consultant’s abilities and knowledge being imparted live. At the summit at the latest, customer team and consultant will know what part of the summit needs to be particularly staged.
First customer is the classic outsourcer. Budget is available, know-how and/or personnel resources usually not. The customer transfers as much workload and tasks to the consultant as possible and leaves him great freedom to achieve the objective. Hence, the consultant sets out with specialized knowledge and expertise, with it also being clear, however, that an external consultant always remains external and is not aware of all of the customer’s internal matter even after careful familiarization and information transfers. What remains are thus lacking information and misunderstandings on the day-to-day business which may lead to a decline in quality. Selectively catching up on this knowledge takes time and will be reflected in additional costs for the principal. Sometimes, the objective is not achieved in an optimum manner either, and rework requiring additional budget is necessary. In any case, they are dependent on the consultant and his consulting quality.
The Sustainable Ones
Last example customer pursues a profound approach. Besides achieving the objective, he also wants to know how to do it. Therefore, he provides the consultant with a team of the day-to-day business.
In this way, the employees learn from the consultant by direct contact while serving as sparring partners when the consulting concept faces the reality of the customer’s enterprise. The customer can see and measure the consultant’s quality and work at any time. On the one hand, the mere consulting time is reduced by less demand for introduction to the customer’s specialties. On the other hand, however, decision-making processes and working for work packages may sometimes be prolonged by several parties involved as well.
Nonetheless, the outcome and output of the consulting content are always on the spot. For us as consultants, both types of customers have their charms. Thanks to freedom, the outsourcers usually allow us to have a more simple and flexible time management, whereas their short-term and volatile nature, but also inadequate insight into the process, may result in hasty reactions or waiting times, also for the customer, time and again. Project term and budget of the consulting assignment are often considerably higher. And yet the customer derives less benefit from it for his organization in the long term. The sustainable ones are much closer to the action, place much more demand on the consultant and derive considerably more knowledge transfer for the whole organization. With consistent transparency and permanent access to the consultant, the output is usually ideal as early as at the first attempt, thus on time. Better value for money in the classical sense. Both of them return, which probably speaks for our work.