Expert Perspectives: How Independent Consultants Help You Stay Honest and On Budget
To succeed, today’s executive leadership teams must know how to effectively balance management initiatives, strategic projects, and available resources. As some programs are approved and others close, leaders’ requirements naturally ebb and flow — at any given time, they may find themselves in need of niche skill sets that they don’t have internally. Independent consultants bring experiences, backgrounds, and new perspectives to your team — this allows them to pilot, test, and execute your strategic work, and find long-term tactical solutions that push initiatives forward.
How independent consultants push strategic initiatives forward:
Based on my experience as an independent consultant on Catalant’s Expert Marketplace, here are some examples of how independent consultants are able to push strategic initiatives forward for organizations of all sizes.
1. Hire based on relevant work experience.
Experienced independent consultants have the background necessary to provide clients with senior-level consulting expertise across their most critical functions — such as operations, program management, product development, innovation, and digital transformation. They do so free of the substantial overhead and redundant personnel you’ll find are inherently associated with large consulting firms. Many have years of experience across multiple verticals which is why their expertise is sought-after by leading organizations and firms.
For example, I have consulted across financial services, life sciences and healthcare, manufacturing, CPG, media and telecom, and technology services. I can leverage this experience — and resulting case studies — across all of my clients, no matter their size or whether they’re publicly or privately held.
2. Get a valuable outside perspective.
With a wealth of experience and no political allegiance to a specific company, independent consultants provide a valuable outside perspective that has the potential to increase margins. Independent talent is able to see things that may be overlooked by full-time employees who are “in it” every day. Whether during or after a project is complete, independent consultants may be more confident sharing the information they uncover while working on a project, as they don’t feel the political risk that a full-time employee may experience when sharing news with internal leadership.
3. See results quickly.
Independent consultants excel in different environments and provide value and deliverables quickly due to their work background and expertise, and because of their experiences working with various stakeholders.
Unlike full-time employees who may not have the bandwidth to work across multiple projects at once, independent consultants can be dropped into a project in, at most, a few weeks to deliver results quickly. This timeline is also shorter than what an organization would experience when hiring a large consulting firm that may take months just to on-ramp. Additionally, independent consultants are nimble and can help their client course-correct on a dime unlike large consulting firms that require many meetings, change orders, and approvals if they are to alter the work they must execute.
For instance, as an independent consultant, I have worked with CFOs, CMOs, COOs, CIOs, and senior directors, and I’ve also worked “in the trenches” on a variety of teams. I have been hand-selected to complete jobs that align specifically with my work experience so I can provide the results — including a hypothesis, metrics, reviews, and recommendations — that the organization is looking for, all on their timeline.
4. Use your resources and budget wisely.
Working with independent consultants is a cost-effective option, especially in comparison to working with a large consulting firm or hiring a full-time employee. With the ability to quickly complement and support full-time employees while building out a cost-effective strategy phase, pouring over available analytics, and working with leadership on a roadmap to success, independent consultants help even large teams stay nimble and use resources and budget wisely.
At large traditional consulting firms, expensive and billable partners work with the C-suite stakeholders and then spend a substantial amount of time translating requirements to mid-level managers — those managers then pass along those requirements to their junior staff. Expensive billable staff not only eats into your budget but also complicates communication lines among the people who require critical information to successfully complete their jobs.
Independent talent works based on a previously-determined project timeline — you know what results an individual will deliver on the timeline you established. And if you enjoy working with a consultant, you can extend their project timeline and keep them on for additional work. Meanwhile, traditional firms want (and need) to keep large teams billing, or a new “support” team may even be added to your project despite having no historical context. This eats into valuable resources including budget and time.
Independent consultants help you optimize time and resources.
Today’s most innovative leaders at organizations of all sizes understand the need for experienced and agile independent consultants who can integrate with existing teams and provide honest and data-backed advice and expertise on how to generate actionable results.
Ready to find the right independent consultant to help stay honest and on budget?
About the Author
Simon holds a degree in Computer Science from Columbia University where he worked in DARPA research labs.