Would you buy a new car every time you needed to change something about it? Of course not. So why do business owners treat their consultancies like this?
When business owners want to make changes in their company, they often hire outside consulting. As a company grows and evolves over time, many aspects of its operations need reviewing or optimising for better performance.
Some businesses bring on a consultant when they see an opportunity where the current state isn’t working well anymore, or to introduce new change, and the scope of change may be outside their skillset. It’s an essential part of the corporate way of doing things, but the way it’s done now is not as beneficial as it has the potential to be.
In this article, we will look at how a consultancy could be a long-term strategic partnership that can boost your productivity.
How Businesses Often Use Consultancies
Every business has a limited number of resources, including time and money. Some business owners may inefficiently use their resources trying to implement change that’s outside their area of expertise. It could be more resourceful to develop and nurture a partnership with a consultancy.
Often this is viewed as a short-term tactical approach, and once the consultant has done their job, they shake hands with the business owner and are on their way. But the need for change will surely come again, and business owners will find themselves in the same position. They’ll hire another consultancy and start the process all over again.
The problem with this is that it’s wasteful and unproductive. The business owner is essentially starting from scratch each time with no continuity or long-term strategy in place.
It would be much more beneficial to have a long-term strategic partnership with a consultancy. This way, the consultant gets to know your business inside out, and you develop a trusting relationship.
When you have a long-term strategic partnership, the consultant can help you proactively plan for change rather than reactively responding to it. This way, you can be more efficient and effective in using resources and get ahead of the competition.
How to Think Long-Term with Consulting Firms
If you want to get the most out of your partnership with a consultancy, you need to think long-term. This means setting clear objectives and working together to develop a roadmap that will help you achieve these objectives.
It’s important to remember that your business is constantly changing and evolving, so your roadmap should be flexible enough to adapt as your business changes. Your consultancy should be able to help you anticipate change and plan for it accordingly.
A long-term strategic partnership with a consultancy can be highly beneficial for your business. It can help you boost productivity, save time and money, and stay ahead of the competition.
Those consultants working with you become part of the fabric of your business. Your people know them, and they know your people, your lingo, company culture, and how you like to operate. You get better results faster because less time is spent on the consultancy getting up to speed.
When you find a consultancy, you love working with, they become an extension of your company. You need to make sure you nurture this relationship and don’t take it for granted. Working with your business is not just ‘another job’ for a consultant. They’re actively invested in your success.
The Problem with Flipping Consultancies
There’s no getting around it; any new business relationship takes time to develop. This is especially true when you’re working with a consultancy.
A new consultancy will need time to learn about your business and what you’re trying to achieve. This is an integral part of the process, but it can be frustrating for business owners who just want to get things done. The previous consultancy firm already knows all about your business.
Working with someone else may also prove to be a mismatch. A new consultancy will have a different way of doing things. There’s no guarantee that it will align with your business. It may come to pass that the partnership is not a good fit, and you’ll be left in a position where you have to find a replacement. You’ll have lost time because of this.
All this wasted time and effort could be avoided if business owners took the time to develop a long-term relationship with a consultancy. Doing this would prevent the need to constantly start from scratch every time they need to make a change.
How to choose the right consulting firm for you
This is the point at which the decision becomes critical. Many consulting firms charge a steep price for their services and will tell you what you want to hear to secure your sale. So how do you decide? What characteristics do you look out for so that you choose a business partner rather than a temporary vendor?
One of the biggest factors will be how much a consulting firm listens to you. This sounds like a no-brainer, but if their priority is to constantly provide value to you, this is a good sign. They won’t be trying to convince you of a particular solution they think is necessary (and has a large pay cheque) if they see you won’t benefit from it in the long term. They will try to formulate a solution that integrates into your culture, organisational structure, processes, and strategy to alleviate inefficiencies. What this does is it incrementally improves your way of working. This incremental improvement won’t yield flashy, sudden, butterfly transformations. But it does bring real solutions to real problems that are there to stay, are responsible, and aligned to your priorities.
Another factor is if they recommend coaching. By coaching you and your teams and leaders, they are ensuring that you can do the job without them in the long run. They have your best interest at heart by directly sharing their wisdom, as opposed to keeping you in the dark. They bring you and relevant stakeholders along on the journey.
Finally, a third factor is their level of speciality or niche problem solving. Many tier two and three consulting firms specialise in more complex or targeted organisational issues and may thus have a deeper understanding of the challenges you are facing. It is similar to seeing a General Practitioner or seeing a specialist or surgeon when you have a medical ailment.
Think of your partnership with a consultancy firm as a long-term strategic relationship. One that will build a more productive, efficient, and cost-effective business. Don’t treat a consultancy as just another business expense, but as an invaluable alliance.
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