The business consulting field has, in recent years, been doing a lot of changing. Like a snake shedding an old skin, the profession of consulting has been shucking off its negative reputation, and developing a new persona.
Consultants are becoming more accountable, more involved, and more a part of their clients’ teams. An improvement in documentation of results from consultants has resulted in measurable impacts and ROI.
The Old View of Consulting
In the past, consultants where seen to be hired based on what large industry power players where doing.
They were seen as support staff, and often, their involvement was largely unplanned, unspecific and may even have gone undocumented.
Often, they were hired without being given a specific focus or detailed brief from the client, and were expected to “get on with it” with as little interruption as possible.
Because of this, consultants often only had access to data that had already been gathered, lacked the tools to properly assess and process information, or were hired by a single department, without upper management involvement.
The result? Inevitably, many consulting appointments concluded unsuccessfully, with both the client and the consultant walking away from the experience with a feeling of being shortchanged.
This lead to the opinion that consultants, and their services, while probably a necessary evil, were an expense, and should be the last resort, a serious mistake, since expert involvement BEFORE a problem reaches crisis proportions, will always be better than trying to use damage control tactics!
So What Has Changed in Consulting?
More and more organizations are realizing that consultants, rather than being glorified employees, are strategic partners in the quest to build successful, flourishing businesses.
Instead of being called in begrudgingly, when things are simply out of control, and it seems impossible to sort out internally, companies are proactively seeking the services of consultants to asses, improve and implement change at many levels within their organizations.
Consultants, rather than being seen as an expense, are more and more often viewed as an investment in the growth potential of a company. They are given highly specific briefs and targets, engage, in partnership with their clients, in developing processes, and are seen as a valuable resource.
Continuous communication, constant monitoring and reporting, and the development of partnerships between these consultants and the companies they assist are resulting in measurable change to ROI, improved productivity, and better businesses.
In short, rather than being an expense, their contribution has become an asset to a business’s potential.
Upper management and company owners are becoming more involved in the hiring of consultants to address organization wide issues, resulting in better communication, positive change at all levels, and a more satisfying result all round.
By focusing not on the data on hand, or the problem to be solved, but taking a longer view, considering the data required, or the solution required, consultants are becoming more able to provide efficient, high value service to their clients.
And by monitoring and recording ROI, in terms of productivity, increases in revenue, or decreases in costs, consultants and clients alike are better able to make informed decisions regarding when and how to best make use of professional consulting company’s services.