“Consultants don’t understand our business and can’t bring anything we don’t already have in-house”. It’s a statement you’ve probably heard countless times from senior colleagues, but is it true? Here, Nigel Crockford, Business Development Manager at IT consultancy eSpida, discusses what businesses should be looking for in a good consultancy team.
So, what are the main myths surrounding consultancy? Business leaders are often keen to avoid the use of external consultants, believing that they’re an expense that will not be cost-effective for the business. They often think that their employees in the house can make decisions more effectively than external consultants, as they understand the needs and objectives of the business. Then, if they do decide to use a consultant, it’s normally for a one-off project rather than an ongoing relationship.
These assumptions are often inaccurate, but if someone in your business is requesting consultants be brought in, it’s right to be cautious. After all, you want to make sure you’re getting the right service for the cost. So, let’s have a look at the myths again.
Knowledge of the business
For the consultant to present ideas that will benefit the business, they must have a good understanding of what the business does, as well as its history and goals. While their knowledge may not be quite as in depth of someone who’s worked in the business for years, the fact that they’re an outsider to the business could benefit the end result.
Mike Adamczyk, IT Manager at one of eSpida’s long-standing clients, Kingspan Insulated Panels, said in a recent video that eSpida’s consultants have helped the business “find the solutions to problems they didn’t even know they had”. This outside perspective can help businesses to step out of their usual comfort zone.
Consultants can work alongside existing IT teams in this way, rather than being a threat. Consultants should challenge the norm and pre-existing ideas that the IT team may have for their next project.
With IT teams often dealing with everyday operational problems, an external consultant should be able to see the bigger picture. Mike Adamczyk also commented that there have been multiple times where eSpida has carried out workshops that completely transformed plans already in place, as they helped them to see the project from a different perspective.
There’s no question that bringing in a consultant is an expense to the business, but it’s one that can bring serious cost-savings in the long run. Not only can consultants help to avoid purchases that are not right for the needs of the business, they can also show businesses where cost savings can be made.
For example, one project that eSpida worked on with Kingspan led to the company reducing the number of servers it needed from 32 to 8, reducing maintenance costs and overheads. It was only by eSpida’s consultants assessing the situation and introducing Kingspan to a new piece of software, that this became possible.
Consultancy is often thought of in this way, as a one-off project to react to a certain business need. However, some businesses benefit more from developing a long-term relationship with the consultants, allowing them to use their knowledge of their business to suggest ongoing improvements.
Kingspan has worked with eSpida for 15 years and now works on an ongoing basis with the company, rather than on projects alone. eSpida is proactive and helps to guide the company’s strategy, rather than reacting to problems in the business that it is asked to solve.
By developing an established relationship with a trusted consultant, businesses can improve their operational effectiveness and challenge existing norms, avoiding the risk of stagnating. As there may be resistance from some parts of the business to bringing in consultants, it is vital that the choice of consultant is carefully considered, to ensure that the benefits of consulting are brought to the company and its staff and the investment is worthwhile.
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