You need a Project Manager or Business Analyst for a 2- to 4-month period and you need the right person. They need to learn about your organisation really quickly, understand the culture and the outcomes required and be accountable for their deliverables. And if they don’t work out, the impact of a delayed start to your project is not just the cost of the person – it is usually the project costs incurred during the delay period and the delayed benefits realisation. This cost is usually a multiple of the cost of the contractor.
This is a scenario that we come across frequently and explains why consultants may be a better choice than contractors for this type of engagement.
Procurement guidelines usually require that a Contractor is engaged via a contract-hire Agency. So why consider a Consultancy when the direct cost of the consultant may appear to be higher?
Both the Agency and the Consultancy will look to find you the “right” person – the right skillset at the right time. And this is where the agency’s responsibility ends. The Consultancy should also embrace the responsibility of achieving the required outcomes, to be accountable for this. This requires an additional dimension that Agencies can’t offer. The willingness and confidence to guarantee that the required outcomes will be achieved. And the reasons that a Consultancy can do this are:
- The consultants are usually employees, who have had a significant investment in training and skills development by the Consultancy
- The Consultancy knows and understands their employees and so can be confident in their abilities and fit for the role.
- The Consultancy brings processes, methods and intellectual property to the engagement, resulting in faster ramp up times and greater certainty of outcome
- The consultant engaged for the role can draw on their peer network when required – you are not just engaging an individual but also the collective knowledge of the consultancy.
- The Consultancy’s client engagement manager should have an intimate understanding of the requirements and the role, ensuring escalation if issues are emerging.
- To underpin this, the right Consultancy would also offer a money-back guarantee – ensuring that they ARE accountable for helping the client achieve their required outcomes.
A significant issue that often emerges is that the required outcomes are not clearly defined at the start of the engagement, or changes during the course of the engagement. In this case, you want a Consultancy who retains accountability, but allows for the reality of changing circumstances. This requires consultants who intimately engage with their client in a trust based relationship – consultants who first seek to understand, before seeking to be understood.
So, how do you find the right Consultancy? What should you look for when you are being bombarded with meeting requests and proposals?
- Can the Consulting Company clearly define their value proposition? Are they willing to underwrite the outcomes?
- Have they got a track record of success? Have they got credible references that you can talk to yourself? And are they willing to let you talk to their customers?
- All Consulting companies will say they have the best people. Quiz them on that. How do they hire their people? How do they look after their people? What is their staff attrition rate? (You need to know if the people you entrust with your project will be there to see it through!)
- Can they and do they understand your problem? Or do they just have a canned solution from which your problem must fit?
So when next you need a Project Manager or Business Analyst, where assuredness of outcome matters, consider engaging a Consultancy who are truly willing to be accountable for the outcome.