So you have a few business challenges in front of you, and you’re not sure what to do. You’re not alone. That’s why legions of professionals hire consultants. Rather than a sign of weakness or inefficiency, knowing when to bring in outside help is a hallmark of an executive that knows how to get things done.
If you’re not sure when the timing is right to invest in consulting services, here a few situations in which a consultant can help you overcome a business issue:
- Expertise is needed. Does the consultant possess knowledge or skills that don’t exist inside your organization? If you have access to internal resources, it could be better to use them rather than pay someone else, who doesn’t know your business as well, to give you advice, unless…
- You need an objective view. You might already have a strong opinion about what track you should take. Whether your assessment is based on facts or gut feel, sometimes you need an objective third-party to validate your assumptions. This can be useful when you are planning on expending big resources, need board approval or community buy-in for the path you plan to pursue.
- Speed or scale is an issue. It’s possible that your organization has all the talent you need. You could do the project, but should you? Is it a good use of your internal resources? Maybe it’s better to keep your team on task, and bring in a consultant to provide focus (no competing priorities), scale (more people) or speed (doing in a month what would take your team 6 months to complete).
- It’s time to shake things up. No matter how smart you are, sometimes an outsider can see things you can’t. Whether you need to reassess the make-up of your marketing team, reinvigorate your strategy, or prune your product portfolio, a consultant can help. They view your business without the filter of emotional attachments, helping identify weaknesses or opportunities that may have been obscured by your firm’s tradition, culture or habits.
- Stealth or anonymity is required. In certain cases, the work you need to do is best done by someone at arms length to your organization. If you are collecting competitive information, are looking for leaks in you own company or are exploring potential partners, suitors or acquisitions, a consultant can be the right choice. I’m not suggesting anything unsavory – consultants should uphold the highest ethical standards. Within this context, they may be able to find information that is not readily available to your or your team.
I’d like to point out that these situations are not just relevant for marketing consulting. You may find similar challenges across your organization when hiring a consultant from a different discipline could be the right choice.
If you have suggestions on other times when it’s smart to bring in a consultant, please share your thoughts in the comments below.