A Profit from Another Land: The Argument for Utilizing Consultants in your Organization

Elizabeth Leif
Data Analyst, Grays Peak Strategies

Take a moment to think about your organization’s vision. What are your short-term and long-term goals? In what ways are you struggling? What are you doing well? What mountain peak do you want to climb?

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While these questions should be easy to answer, the direction they provide may be harder to figure out. Sometimes it is hard to know where to go next and what is going to help you achieve your goals. Sometimes you may need help defining goals that make sense, and that can be achieved. Often leading an organization requires you to be involved in the day to day operation and therefore there often are not enough hours in the day to spend on activities that will lead to progress such as analysis, planning and goal setting. Sometimes it seems like we spend so much time keeping up, we can’t devote time to moving forward. That is where consulting may come in. Consulting offers a multitude of services depending on your organization’s needs. Bringing in someone with a specific mission who is not part of your daily operational agenda can be a good investment in building the organization’s future.

Lots of public and private organizations hire consultants to get another perspective on how the organization itself is functioning and areas it could improve in. It can be difficult to see opportunities for improvement from an internal point of view. Often, we have a difficult time looking beyond what we consider standard or even required processes to consider a different approach. Having a third-party provide insight and a fresh pair of eyes to a problem your team has been looking at the same way for a while may spark creative problem-solving skills. Similarly, it may open the door to collaboration in the future. This is especially true in the public sector as government agencies need process improvement and are always working to find more efficient ways to operate and to make the most out of the resources they have.

Having a third party that can drive change is what the organization may need in order to achieve a goal or to make the operation more efficient. A good change management consultant can help the employees and other stakeholders get on board with the change and discover their new potential within the changing system. Consultants understand that change is risky and scary, but they are there to make the process less terrifying and more enjoyable and profitable.

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Another reason consulting is valuable to organizations is the ability to leverage a set of skills and expertise that are needed without tying up resources for the long-term. For example, if you run an agency that provides child support services, but you need someone to set up an eye-catching and proficient website to represent your agency, hire a consultant who has the skills and information necessary to do. You can also use consultants to develop a skill set within your organization. To follow this same example, you can hire the consultants to build the website and train internal resources to be able to maintain it.

There is often a perception that consulting is expensive. Public-sector organizations, who are stewards of the public funds and public trust, must be diligent when identifying needs and hiring consulting services. While it is true that the “sticker price” for these services may seem high, when you consider the alternative cost of hiring, onboarding, training, and providing benefits, payroll and taxes, the cost benefit starts to become evident. Any good consultant can explain their value, help you build the appropriate business case, help you design a strategic approach, and provides a high return on investment.

Consulting services may seem like a luxury. However, when you consider all the potential that comes with having a strong strategic direction, building infrastructure and examining business processes, the opportunity to tackle short term projects and to plan for long term needs, the benefits of the investment start to become clear.