Consultancy has a bad press. While we’ve never found it to be the case, there is a fear or suspicion that although consultants will help you out they’ll do so in a way that maximises their pay check and ensure your repeat business. And often this mean keeping the tricks to themselves so you keep coming back to them again and again.
It’s slightly different in the Business Improvement world as consultants – often referred to just as Master Black Belts – will go into a business and help them achieve success on a project. The Master Black Belt will have delivered a tangible benefit and there is no doubt that the business is, and remains, better off for that help. We think this kind of support is invaluable, particularly for organisations that are not large enough to have a full time Master Black Belt on staff.
However, the way companies use Business Improvement consultancy is changing, and we’re keen to be ahead of the curve. We’re pretty confident that the days of hiring a consultant for months at a time at exorbitant fees are on the way out, we think the future is consultancy guiding you to do the work yourself.
Instead of a consultant coming into your business and then taking the time to learn all about your business and processes before delivering a solution over weeks and months, we think businesses already have all the information and people they need for successful outcomes, they just need expert support in order to harness and grow the available resources and capability.
We delivered this model to great effect recently with the General Dental Council. While a consultancy term of several months may have been the go-to response previously, the GDC wanted something different and we were happy to support it. Our consultants provided a number of days of intensive guidance followed by arms-length support and advice while GDC analysed the problem, identified a solution and put it in place. The result: they learned new skills for next time, saved money on consultancy costs and received better buy-in within the company for the new process.
So why does this work?
Learn new skills
The team at the GDC already had a strong background in Business Improvement and were trained in Lean Six Sigma. So while they knew they did not have the statistical and forecasting skills necessary to deliver the project they had in mind, they did have the ability to effectively run the project.
Plus they were keen to learn those skills so that when the process needed to be updated in the future (remember, improvement should be continuous) they knew they’d have the skills to do it themselves.
As 100% Effective believes that knowledge transfer is the best way to teach, we were thrilled to support this outcome.
It will come as a surprise to no one that having a consultant warming a seat in your office for weeks at a time is pricey, with day rates running from hundreds to thousands depending on skills and experience.
Relying on a consultant for advice and support, rather than improvement, means you don’t have to pay someone to spend weeks getting to know your business – as your staff already know it inside out. Instead of weeks or months of a Master Black Belt’s or consultant’s time, you’re then faced with the bulk of the work completed by salaried staff, with coaching or support sessions totalling several days. Even including training upfront, if your staff are not already familiar with Business Improvement, this option can be significantly less costly.
Just as you’re saving money, you’re saving time. You don’t need to have that bedding in/ observation period with a consultant as your employees will be much more familiar with how your business works, even if they haven’t been working in that particular department before.
Providing your employees can overcome their natural bias towards potential cause, the value of insider knowledge cannot be overestimated in getting to the root cause of a problem. A consultant would take several weeks to become familiar with your company in order to provide an assessment of what the problem could be.
An employee, on the other hand, would already know the company inside-out so would be able to get straight to problem-solving.
Get better buy in
One of the benefits of working for the company is that you’re familiar with the culture, and the key players within the business. This gives employees a huge advantage over external consultants when it comes to securing buy-in for a project.
An employee will know who the major influencers are within a business, especially when it comes to those who may not have a senior job title, but nevertheless have a voice that holds sway with others. They’ll know how to get people on board, without alienating or annoying them. Importantly, they’ll know if things have and haven’t worked in the past, so will be able to better anticipate concerns and complaints.
100% Effective offers bespoke coaching and consultancy solutions to suit your specific needs – contact us about how we can help you make improvements at your place of work.