Why You Should Use a Consultant

Editor’s Note: This post is from regular contributor Norman Katz, Sourcing Innovation’s resident expert on supply chain fraud and supply chain risk. Catch up on his column in the archive.

Over the years I’ve come to realize that clients rely on consulting services for two reasons:

  1. Because they don’t have the personnel
  2. Because they don’t have the personnel

The difference between the two reasons is that clients either don’t have enough warm bodies to throw at a problem and they need an extra one in the interim or they don’t have the specialized talents and expertise the consultant brings to the table.

Those are two pretty good reasons for organizations to use a consultant — especially one who is willing to transfer knowledge which enables them to take ownership of the projects that they work on jointly with the consultant. For short-term projects of a few weeks or a few months it usually does not make sense to hire an employee when using a consultant is actually a more effective and efficient answer.

So how do you find the right consultant?A great consultant strides to distinguish herself from other consultants by not offering commodity products and services, even though it can be a double-edged sword at times. Let’s face it: a great consultant’s bag of mixed tricks is somewhat specialized and can be a little difficult to explain. Her best “elevator pitch” is likely reliant on the elevator getting stuck between floors for an hour or so. But then again, if a consultant can provide you with their full value proposition in a minute or two, how much do they really know?

But there’s third reason — and a really good one — to use a consultant. And this aspect is what can even separate specialists from being viewed as valued advisors: a good consultant is professionally “out there”.

Aside from reading a daily newspaper or two and approximately a dozen or so various business publications (supply chain, manufacturing, technology, financial, fraud, security, etc.) each month, a good consultant will attend conferences and informational networking events and be on top of current trends and best practices. She will then relay this information to her clients when she learns something she thinks they should know — and do so in a timely fashion. (And, unlike a lawyer, won’t charge a minimum hourly fee to do it!) And the client stays on the ball without having to fork out tens of thousands of dollars to an analyst firm whose reports are stale as soon as they are published.

So hire a consultant today. It’s the best investment you can make with your money.

Norman Katz, Katzscan

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