You know you are a consultant if… you can carry on a five minute conversation about data warehousing. Then you ask what it means…
There is the exceptional consultant out there who has mastered the art of knowing absolutely nothing about your business, and yet is an expert. They talk about best practices, core competencies, deliverables, value propositions, and then they want to go offline and talk about it some more. While hiring a consultant can mean the difference between working towards long-term success and succumbing to the intense pressures of today’s business world, it can also be an exercise in frustration and futility.
One of the most common problems with consultants, and one of the factors that keeps business owners from going this route, is that they are simply telling you what you already know. They enhance it, or couch it, in jargon and buzzwords, but ultimately, are you left with no new information – and worse, no new solutions to try? Business owners often say, “I don’t need to know what my problems are…I know what they are. I want them fixed.”
This is understandable; but part of a consultant’s job is to determine the root of the problem. Say, for instance, you manufacture innovative new products that have a big demand in the marketplace. You create an excellent product, and it will sell, but you are experiencing incredible problems within the workplace; missed deliveries, unrealistic claims and promises, a disconnect between what customers want and what you are creating. What exactly is the problem? It’s not lazy or unskilled employees. It’s not a bad product concept or design. It is not faulty equipment or facilities. A consultant can go in and pinpoint issues within your structure that can help you create a stronger organization.
In this case, it may be invaluable for a consultant to identify an inefficient communication structure as the cause of the disconnects. But, if you already know that, being told that – with the latest buzzwords, of course, isn’t helpful. What you need is a solution, a plan, and a way to measure your progress. This is where many consultants fall short.
- They may not have sufficient industry knowledge or expertise to develop realistic solutions.
- They may provide a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all solution for your business based on similar clients’ needs.
- They may have suggestions but no plan on how to implement them or provide no support for the implementation process.
A qualified, knowledgeable consultant can help you tackle issues facing your business, working with you to develop feasible solutions. This process involves a willingness on management’s part to provide the consultant with information and listen to opinions; it also needs to involve creativity, innovation, and personal attention on the part of the consultant. Anything less just will not do.