When and How to Use an Independent Consulting Marketplace
As business challenges, macroeconomic trends, and personnel change, it’s difficult to stay on pace to deliver against organizational goals. When coupled with financial pressures to reduce operating expenditures, accomplishing key objectives can seem close to impossible. But when you leverage Consulting 2.0, it doesn’t have to be.
An Independent Consulting Marketplace is an Ideal Solution for Business Problems
Consulting 2.0 is a modern, digitally-enabled approach to solving complex business problems, giving leaders (even those outside of the C-suite) direct access through a technology platform to the expertise of business professionals who have the skills required to drop in on-demand and execute strategic work. Digital connectedness, combined with the rapid migration of top talent into freelance consulting, allows business leaders to find someone who’s solved their exact problems before.
With a marketplace, clients can post their needs, be matched with their ideal experts, and book interviews within a matter of hours. This makes them an ideal solution for business problems, resulting in the following:
1. Get valuable outside perspectives.
Sometimes, problems require a third party’s insights. The challenge is to balance the need for external guidance with quality and experience. If you try to find a consultant to fill this gap on your own or through a traditional firm, you’ll likely struggle to bring on the perfect expert with specialized knowledge of the problem you’re facing. Often staffed with more junior resources, clients can feel like a traditional firm’s resource is “learning on the job.” This is where an independent consulting marketplace comes in. Every consultant on the platform has a unique work background and is vetted and approved — meaning you can rest assured that you’ll be matched with experienced professionals who have the right expertise to manage the work you need to get done.
2. Improve flexibility.
If your organization only wants to commit to a consultant for one project rather than contracting for a period of time, you can do so with an independent consulting marketplace. You can select a consultant on a project-by-project basis, or hire the same consultant repeatedly. The flexibility offered by a consulting marketplace means that you can pick who you want to work with, and when you want to work with them, rather than being beholden to who a larger/traditional firm assigns to you.
3. Fill talent gaps.
An independent consulting platform doesn’t replace full-time hires or traditional consulting firms. Instead, marketplaces augment them. Independent consultants can cover employment leave gaps, manage projects designed by consulting firms, or even build processes to onboard full-time hires. Utilizing a variety of talent models means that companies can get the most out of personnel, leading to maximized efficiency.
One way to think about this is to “hire to the trough, variablize to the peak.” Joe Fuller, HBS professor, and co-lead of the Managing the Future of Work Project, started talking about this in 2020, and we’re seeing alignment to it among the executives we speak with, more today than ever before.
Check out this visual to better understand how you can fill talent gaps by leveraging independent consulting along with your other talent models:
4. Cost Savings
When cost is the most important factor in selecting a solution, independent consulting marketplaces unbundle consulting, resulting in right-sized projects that are priced transparently, helping you stay on budget. Because independent consultants pitch their solution to your project with a quoted price, you’ll know for certain what you can afford without wasting your time or theirs.
When is it time to use an independent consulting marketplace?
1. You need temporary, specialized knowledge.
You’ll know it’s time to use an independent consulting marketplace when you’re faced with challenges that require specialized knowledge beyond the capabilities of your current staff. While long-term needs necessitate a full-time employee, an independent consultant is ideal for short-term needs. While sourcing a knowledgeable consultant can be a challenge when conducting your own search, an independent consulting marketplace makes it easier.
2. Time is of the essence.
Managing an initiative with a hard deadline? Independent consultants can help deliver results on time and on budget. For example, if your organization needs to implement a program within a matter of months or weeks, it’ll be near impossible to source and hire a full-time employee or consulting firm. With an independent consulting marketplace at your disposal, source and hire a consultant within a matter of a few weeks (or, in some cases, just days).
3. Your organization is experiencing hiring troubles or restrictions.
If your organization is struggling to fill a role with a hard-to-find skill set, or your team doesn’t have the capacity for another full-time hire at this time, it’s a good time to consider independent talent. Similarly, if a hiring freeze is restricting headcount and putting a key project at risk, consider outsourcing to a consultant. Because consulting marketplaces require talent to be up-front about costs and skill sets when pitching, you’ll know who can support your highly specialized project or meet your budgetary requirements before ever engaging them, ultimately saving you time and stress.
How to Get Started with an Independent Consulting Marketplace
Once you’ve identified that an independent consultant is right for your project, it’s time to get started on finding your perfect expert. But, the process doesn’t begin by reviewing resumes and pitches. Instead, you must first flesh out your needs.
1. Develop your project.
To begin, write down what problem you’re trying to solve. Be sure to focus on one specific problem that you want the consultant to help solve. Ensure that you’re being descriptive, but not so detailed that readers get lost in the weeds. You’ll also want to make sure you develop a list of internal stakeholders and earn their buy-in before you post your project. This will allow for a seamless onboarding process for your consultant once you’ve hired them.
2. Identify a consultant with the right experience based on your needs.
One of the benefits of an independent consulting platform is that there are thousands of experienced business professionals to choose from. Because of the number of options available, it’s important to know what type of consultant and work experience you’re looking for. Think about whether you want someone who served as a consultant for a large firm, or if you’d prefer someone who came to consulting after years working in the industry and earning on-the-job experience (or vice versa), as both backgrounds offer different benefits.
You’ll also want to determine if your problem warrants hiring a group of consultants or a small firm to support the work, or if you just need a single consultant focused on it. Lastly, determine if you need a consultant to come onsite to your organization, or if they will work remotely — this will impact who will pitch a solution to your project.
3. Establish the duration of your engagement.
Once you know the project you want to post and who you want to find, determine your timeline. Some projects may need months of support, while others just need weeks. While you can extend engagements, underestimating the amount of time it will take to complete a project runs the risk of going over budget or having to hire a second consultant.
Once you’ve established everything you need, post your project to an independent consulting marketplace like Catalant. Whether you’re an enterprise, business unit, consulting firm, or private equity firm, Catalant will help you search for the right consultant across the globe, and hire based on relevant expertise and background.