Get the most from your consultants

N°253a – Synopsis (8p.) – Performance Management
Get the most from your consultants
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Businesses increasingly rely upon outside consultants, but are often disappointed with inconclusive results or difficult-to-manage relationships. How can you make the most of your consultants?

Do you know how much of your business is entrusted to external resources? Likely far more than you would think! According to a number of studies, it appears that between 30 and 40% of the workforce is made up of external service providers, whether consultants, trainers, freelancers, etc.

Among these, organizations increasingly need to rely on intellectual service providers to adapt to accelerated changes in their environment, to face new forms of competition, or to take advantage of digital transformations. They look outside their walls to find the wide range of skills required to rapidly fill specific needs.

The degree of satisfaction with the growing reliance upon consultants varies widely, however. Some see it as a “necessary evil,” enabling the company to meet specific needs, but which too seldom generates the expected added value. Culture shock, recommendations of inadequate solutions, or the mistrust of teams in place tend to bog projects down.

Others, conversely, are quite happy with this mode of operation. Nike and Baxter Healthcare, for example, acquired a significant competitive advantage by collaborating effectively with consultants. What helpful lessons can be drawn from their experience?

- Systematically take inventory of your service needs. Urgency and facility too often drive companies to be satisfied with consultants insufficiently suited to their needs.

- Develop true partnerships, beyond the immediate project. The time spent to getting to know consultants better and vice versa will improve the outcome of present and future projects.

- Strive to treat consultants like your own employees. Service providers’ commitment, motivation and, ultimately, work quality also depend on how they are integrated into the organization.

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