Why hire a consultant?
With many clients under their belts, consultants can
provide you with advice based on their experiences with
others who've implemented the services in which you are
interested. All the manuals and reference materials in
the world won't truly give you an understanding of how a
system will work for your firm. Long-term, firsthand
knowledge in a range of business scenarios is best.
Why is there such a wide range of costs for consultants?
Q: Most of the consultants I talk with "sound" like they
know what they are doing. How do I select which consultant
or firm to use?
Many factors influence computer consultant rates. These
- Skill level
- Consultant's organization and associated
- Areas of specialization
- Business sense of the consultant
- Market factors
A: Jargon can make many non-experts and
pseudo-experts sound knowledgeable. However, to provide
efficient and effective assistance to businesses,
consultants MUST also be able to communicate
well with clients of all backgrounds. Many projects fail
due to poor communications, so look for consultants that
you can understand and that understands you.
Q: Why should I even consider engaging a consultant
instead of just putting an in-house expert on
A: Consultants can often make the best choice when:
In addition, the cost of training, supporting, paying
taxes and benefits for a new employee can be up to an
additional 60% of the employees annual salary. When
these hidden costs are considered, consultant fees
become comparable to well skilled employees.
- Very specialized skills are needed and are
difficult to find in affordable employees
- You consider the expense of hiring a new employee.
One-off recruitment fees alone can be up to an
additional 40% or more of the employee's annual
- The consultant has resources that employees
typically do not have available
- Employees are often pulled from projects to help
in other areas, making it difficult to complete
- The project has a known life-span and layoffs
Q: Once I choose a consultant for my project,
can I just turn the project over to the consultant and
forget it until it is finished?
A: While you can do this, it is not suggested.
Most projects typically involve improving or automating a
business task or developing a product for your business.
Your expertise (or your employees') about your business
can speed many development issues and provide quick
resolution to any problems that may occur.
Q: Why would in-house staff resist help
from knowledgeable consultants?
A: There are almost infinite reasons - some of which
are important and others which are counter-productive.
Several of the most common reasons are:
Q: Why are there so many tales of
projects that went way over budget?
- Lack of confidence in the consultant's ability,
skills, experience or integrity
- Previous bad experience with consultants
- Concern that the use of out-of-house experts
would make it appear that the in-house staff is not
capable or is inefficient
- Office politics
- Resentment that funds spent on consultants is
not spent on the in-house staff
- Frustration that the consultant was selected
without the input or approval of the in-house staff
A: The reasons can
vary widely. However, some of the most common causes are:
Q: If a consultant knows how to install and configure a
software program, then shouldn't they be experts how to use
that program and train users?
- Lack of understanding by some or all parties about
the amount of work involved (before and/or during the
- Unrealistically low project bids that were the
result of miscalculations or attempts to "just get the
- Poorly defined project specifications or constantly
- Failure of management to ensure that non-project
employees are responsive to the needs of the project
A: Not necessarily. Many computer consultants are
proficient in tools like Microsoft Word or Excel but that doesn’t
make them experts or trainers, in the
same way they don't become Accountants or Graphic
Designers by just installing and configuring QuickBooks
or Adobe PhotoShop.
While each of these questions could be discussed at great
length, the information presented here can be an excellent
starting point for dealing with these important issues.