Knowing When to Hire a Consultant

See when it’s best to bring in an outsider to help.

Diana Lillicrap 5.30.2013

Most organizations have internal experts to manage the day-to-day operations within the business. However, there are occasional times when bringing in a consultant can be extremely beneficial. Here are five reasons why you might want to bring in an outsider to help with a problem or project.

1. You need to do something specialized.

There are always going to be tasks or projects that require unique skills, training, or experience that your internal team is not able to do. For most of these situations, hiring a consultant provides you with an instant expert at a relatively low investment. Rather than devoting time and resources in hiring a new employee or training existing employees, a consultant can come in, do the work, and move on when the job is done.

2. Your team is large and needs facilitation.

If you have a large group of internal experts, it can sometimes be hard to manage the multiple goals, conflicting objectives, and general egos within the team. In these situations, you will benefit from the facilitation and organization that an outside consultant brings. Good consultants are experienced in working with large groups and diverse personalities. They have a knack for creating an atmosphere where all voices are heard and action can be taken.

3. There are political or charged issues that need navigating.

Sometimes the politics inside an organization make it nearly impossible to get anything done. A consultant is a neutral third-party with no emotional ties to your problems or political roadblocks. They can be the voice of reason and help you identify and address issues in a manner that is not threatening or wrongly motivated. Their process can help you clear the air, create collaboration, define common goals, and leave your team with a new course of action.

4. You need fresh ideas and a new perspective.

It's easy to get stuck when you’re exposed to the same people, processes, and procedures day after day. Unfortunately, a “we always do it that way” mentality won't move your business forward. Bringing in a consultant can help you uncover new ideas and give you a means to reassess goals, confirm objectives, and reach agreement on strategies and tactics. This can be especially helpful at the start of a year, the beginning of a new project, or during a business lull. Good consultants will inspire your team and get you back on track.

5. You want to signal or create big change.

An outside expert provides a level of authority that even qualified insiders just can't deliver. If you need to convince your boss or leadership team that change is needed, sometimes it requires an outsider's voice to break through existing barriers and convince insiders of new opportunities. Plus, taking the time to bring in an expert signals that something is important and requires extra attention and expertise. This can set the tone and expectations for big things ahead.

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