Should You Hire a Consultant? The Answer Is Not as Simple as You Think
From the way some execs talk about consultants, they might as well be a four letter word. These bloodsucking scum prey on unsuspecting companies through the promise of improved processes and an unbiased perspective, marketing themselves as some sort of cure-all for the common corporate cold. They then proceed to bleed you dry, performing a function you could have figured out on your own at a far more affordable rate.
One glaring example of anti-consultancy comes from Matt Rissell of TSheets. Rissell comes from Idaho, and, because of the state’s remote, vaguely connected status in the entrepreneurial world, business owners tend towards a level of independence you won’t find in Silicon Valley or Seattle. If the phrase, “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” applies anywhere, it’s in Idaho. Rissell is a little more connected than most. He’s Idaho’s closest thing to a Jared Friedman (co-founder of ScribD) or an Alex Dreiling (co-founder and CEO of Clipchamp).
In Forbes, Rissell rails on consultants, beginning his first blog post with the (intentionally) incendiary statement, “I hate business consultants”. He goes on,
“I especially don’t like to be told what to do by people who aren’t personally invested in my (or my company’s) success. Which is why I hate consultants. They might claim to be experts in what I do and know the secret to my success, but they’re really only invested in maintaining their careers as consultants.”
This is one common case against consultants. They thrive on you having a problem. If you solve the problem because of their advice, because they actually dug in and got to know your business on a personal level, then they’re out of a job. It’s better for them to deliver insights from a theoretical, cold standpoint. And of course what else is a consultant for? Certainly not to dive deep into the nitty gritty of your business and provide substantive, actionable insights on how to improve operations where it really matters.
Additionally, why do you need consultants when technology yields crowdsourced information you can analyze for accurate insights? The software solutions are readily available. All you need is to identify the problem you’re trying to solve and use software to help you sort through and analyze all the readily available information online. You can also build your own analytics solution.
One reason why you might need a consultant: it costs a ton to do your own analytics, because it involves hiring a team. In terms of salary spend, the following graph illustrates the high cost of building your own analytics:
Many consultancies, such as McKinsey, already have Data Scientists, Architects, and Engineers on staff. Contractual fees with consulting firms can save you money in comparison with hiring on each individual to build your team and analytics solution. However, if you do build a team, these are people who are directly invested in your success for the long term, and your company can become an authority in this respect.
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