There is a multitude of reasons why Executives don’t like to work with Consultants. Some are based on their personal experience; some are just urban legends.
On this week’s Smart consulting Sourcing podcast, Consulting Sourcing Expert Hélène Laffitte provides 5 reasons why Executives love to hate consultants.
Key Takeaway: Working with Consultants has great benefits and by no means represents a failure in execution. It is actually a way to accelerate business growth. The value created by Consultants, whether it is tangible (for instance, savings or increased revenues) or intangible (for example, Leadership or Process Optimization), can be measured and proven. You will need to educate your executives and top management to ensure they have a very clear and objective understanding of what consulting is and is not.
Hello and welcome to episode 49 of our podcast: Smart Consulting Sourcing, THE podcast about Consulting Procurement.
My name is Hélène, and I’ll be your host today.
Each week I’ll give you the keys to better use, manage and source consulting services.
This week, I’ll give you 5 reasons why Executives love to hate consultants.
Last week, I explained how Understanding the consulting market will help you source the right consultants.
We saw that sourcing the right consulting firm is key to get the best outcomes from your consulting project. Understanding how consulting is structured will certainly allow you to improve the results of your sourcing efforts.
I am just you have heard the saying: “A consultant is someone who takes your watch away to tell you what time it is.”
There is a multitude of reasons why Executives don’t like to work with Consultants. Some are based on their personal experience; some are just urban legends. A more balanced and professional approach will be much more mutually beneficial.
Reason #1: Some Executives don’t understand the nature of Consulting
Unfortunately, some Executives have never worked with Consultants. Some companies just don’t work with consultants as a rule. Some regions in the world are less accustomed to working with Consultants too. And some functions within the organization are less likely to use the help of Consultants. But more broadly, while executives tend to navigate across functions in a Company, they can have a narrow vision of Consulting. If they started their career in Operations, they would be very familiar with Lean Operations, Operations Excellence, or Procurement Consulting. But when they are moving to Strategy, they might be less familiar with Growth Strategy, Innovation, or Market Entry Strategy Consulting.
Reason #2: Executives don’t always see how Consulting creates value
They might feel that they have the resources in-house to do the work or think Consultants are just regurgitating what they told them and have little expertise. According to Source Global Research, only 35% of executives say that the consulting firms they’ve worked with have added more value than they took in fees. That’s actually a disappointing statistic.
But mark my words: high-quality doesn’t necessarily mean high value. And executives have to find ways to evaluate the impact of a project with objectivity.
Reason #3: Working with Consultants is for Executives ‘admitting’ that they can’t do their job
And you know what, it is sometimes true. You bring in Consultants because you don’t have the right skills and expertise in-house or because your project is not going fast enough. But does that always mean you are not doing your job right? Depending on how the top management introduces the Consulting Team (and how it will interact with the internal stakeholders), you might have a lot of resistance within your Company.
Reason #4: Executives have the feeling that they are training the consultants
Most large consulting firms have a pyramidal organization where senior partners sell and young consultants deliver. As a result, the operational executives often feel that they are training what they call “the school bus” – an army of young and bright consultants. But all consulting firms are not organized the same way. Some offer, as a differentiator, more seniority and expertise in the field.
Reason #5: Consultants don’t always deliver actionable plans
Another very common reproach made to consultants is to create a beautiful Strategy, but not the actionable plan to execute it. Some consulting firms have specialized in the execution rather than the design of Strategy. The real issue at stake is to know what’s the best consulting firm for each stage of your project.
So can we make them change they mind?
Most of the reasons listed above come from two managerial mistakes: a negative perception about Consulting and inefficient Consulting Procurement capabilities.
Working with Consultants has great benefits and by no means represents a failure in execution. It is actually a way to accelerate business growth. The value created by Consultants, whether it is tangible (for instance, savings or increased revenues) or intangible (for example, Leadership or Process Optimization), can be measured and proven.
You will need to educate your executives and top management to ensure they have a very clear and objective understanding of what consulting is and is not.
Another step is to convince them that hiring consultants will not be considered a failure of execution but rather an acceleration. Don’t oppose the Consulting Team to your internal teams, but rather encourage collaboration.
Besides, make sure your internal (or former) consultants don’t engage in a competition with your external consultants to prove their value. First, nobody asks them to demonstrate who is the smartest cookie in the room. And second, both might end up losing sight of the objectives.
Finally, you know that building a solid consulting Procurement capability and measuring your Providers’ Performance (and acting on it) will increase your teams’ satisfaction when working with Consultants and positively impact the return on investment of your Consulting Projects.
That’s it for today. Next time, I’ll explain how How Using the Right Compensation Models Can Benefit Your Project.
In the meantime, if you have any questions, or want to learn more about what we do at consulting quest, just send me an email at email@example.com
You can also have a look at our website smartconsultingsourcing.com to know more about our book and download free templates & guides to improve your consulting sourcing.
Bye and see you next week! Au revoir!