Consultants exist across a variety of industries with different areas of expertise. From an IT Consultant who specialises in digital transformation, to a Marketing Consultant that may be brought in to a business to drive leads and conversion, the specialisms of consultants are extremely diverse. However, the primary goal and role of most consultants is to help companies to grow faster and operate more efficiently and profitably. This is done through the application of their bespoke skills, experience and knowledge to a specific project for a fee.
Why do companies hire consultants?
There are three key reasons why businesses actively hire consultants:
1 - Knowledge and Expertise
A common theme is that in-house staff are hindered by a lack of knowledge or time to carry out an important project, or can’t resolve a detrimental issue within a business. Therefore, a consultant is hired to share knowledge and strategically resolve such issues.
2- Impartial Perspective
Alternatively, management teams within a company may hire a consultant for an unbiased third party opinion. Thanks to their external perspective, a consultant can help to make innovative changes and resolve dilemmas, without bias or impact from internal politics.
3 - Resource Cover
A consultant may also be engaged when a permanent role has not be filled in the necessary time frame - these roles tending to be more operational in nature.
How to succeed as a Consultant
When a consultant is hired by a client, the way in which they work may vary. Some consultants will be asked to act as simply a third party advisor, offering structured, well mapped out objectives and actions to the board and management teams that will be a catalyst for change and improved outcomes. Others will be expected to work collaboratively with in-house employees, sharing knowledge and ensuring the task at hand is effectively completed. The time that a consultant spends with a firm can range from a couple of days to a number of months, depending on the scale of the project and the core objectives.
In summary, the role of a consultant is to identify, analyse and solve business problems. Offering a valuable contribution and actioning change is important, but consultants also need to be capable of successfully documenting work and feeding back results to senior-level professionals. Regular feedback will help clients to acknowledge the consultancy work being carried out, recognise the return on their investment and allow them to raise any concerns or queries that may impact the original strategy, length of stay or fee.
In addition, because the consultant is in place for the short term only, it is critical that they ensure the permanent team within the business is able to execute any recommendations on an ongoing basis.Training and documentation are key.
Failing to highlight the impact made within a business could prove detrimental to a consultants reputation. Potential future clients will be more willing to hire a consultant who can clearly communicate their success stories and explain how they document progress and results. It’s important to showcase how the unique skills and experience of the consultant will provide a return on investment to the business.