We Already Have Internal Resources To Help Us Solve Our Challenges,
We Don’t Need An Outside Perspective
Due to the complexity of the dynamics running beneath your processes and systems, the return on investment from a quality business improvement consultant is not always obvious. The common perception is that hiring a consultant is expensive, and a consultant charges more than your employees cost you…or appears to. …
If your organisation is experiencing poor financial results, or lack of growth, or both, it’s easy to fall into this trap of thinking you can’t afford to go buy help because you’re under profit, growth or cost pressure. Yet the need is dire! And is, in fact, the most appropriate time to seek assistance or a fresh perspective.
In fact, making that investment can be a key driver to enable you to improve your results. Often the result of an organisation starting to believe that they will benefit from a fresh set of eyes starts to make them challenge their norms. Of course, the change may be in the future and harder to quantify, so it’s easier to think you need to control your spending now and put a ban on hiring consultants.
While it may seem that a consultant is more expensive, that external resource will bring a significant amount of value in best practice from multiple industries and organisations, along with a completely fresh set of eyes. The return on investment from working with an external consultant is significant, normally in the range of 10-20 times the initial expense.
I carried out an assignment for an organisation that focused on streamlining their management protocols for getting tradespeople onto site to perform scheduled maintenance activities or upgrade work. There were many safety protocol processes where contractors signed on to certain areas to do the work and manage the hazards, which is, of course, the correct approach to be taking.
However, the process for doing it was very inefficient. They had contractors spending 50% of their time waiting to do work rather than doing work. This was due to over checking and duplications in process with too many stakeholders involved in sign-off. This had evolved with the right intentions; however, over time the processes and checks added had become cumbersome and didn’t really improve the overall safety..
We were asked to come in and do a process study. Since it was a large manufacturing site, this was a complex piece of work, priced around $100,000. At the time, our rate was viewed as expensive, and we were seen as possibly overcharging. This conclusion had been reached without understanding both the volume of work and effort required to analyse all the processes and the true dollar value of their problem.
Approaching a consultant was not popular internally as no one could really see that a solution was possible. After all, this is safety, right?
We completed the process study and streamlined the safety management processes as per our solution (taken from an entirely different industry.) The result saved them several million dollars a year, year on year! The return on investment was truly staggering.
At the time, I remember struggling to convince the client to proceed with the work because they just felt it was too big an investment, and I knew the ROI would not be immediately obvious. However, I also knew with full confidence that, by hiring us, they stood to benefit significantly from being exposed to best practice from elsewhere.
The impact of hiring external help for your business improvement touches all areas of everything this article series has talked about. By not getting professional help, you’re likely not optimising your strategic approach, your sales approach, and your return on investment for operations, asset maintenance, warehousing, distribution or service.
Whatever you do as an organisation, you have a business front end, a value-add, and a back end that services stakeholders. It is often quite difficult to optimise the many elements of these business principles and disciplines without the best practice methodologies that come from professional advice and guidance.
Don’t fall into the trap of so many organisations I’ve seen—even if your company is achieving positive results. This can lead to an assumption that all is well, and you don’t need any assistance. While that may be the case, often organisations, especially complex ones, don’t see the missed opportunity that could be delivering even better results. After all, missed opportunity is often invisible.