The Smith family wants to build a home so they set off to hire a general contractor. However, the family wants to create the blueprints and tell the construction workers how to carry out their respective trades, all while holding the general contractor fully accountable for the end result. Unless the Smiths are a family of builders, this approach probably won't work. Apart from the obvious implications, the task of finding a contractor to agree to those terms would be a challenge in and of itself. Yet, despite the absurdity of this scenario, many organizations place their vendors in this exact situation.
One of the biggest obstacles consultants must overcome with their clients is the resistance to following and adhering to tried and tested methods in favor of the company's way of doing things--simply because of a "we think we know better" or "that's just how it's done here" mindset. Similar to how the Smith's misguided thinking will foil their attempt at keeping up with the Joneses, corporate culture can inhibit an organization's ability to keep up with their industry peers.
Whether you're a business or an individual, as a consumer it's almost instinctive to want to keep a tight leash on your service providers, especially when you're paying a premium price. Hiring a consultant is no exception. Consultants are hired by organizations when the organization feels they lack the know-how or resources to do the work themselves. Part of what they're paying for is the peace of mind that comes with hiring someone (after they've been properly vetted) who is an experienced professional in their field.
When a client brings in a specialist to assess their in-house process or systems, that consultant brings not only expertise in their respective area, but an approach to delivering their expertise. This approach is commonly referred to as methodology. Generally defined, methodology is the system of procedures and principles used in a particular discipline and it is just as important as the deliverable itself. Applied to the example above, it addresses how, when and where the house will be built. So, when a customer imposes an approach that is not aligned with the vendor's methodology this puts many obstacles in the way of solving the issues the consultant was hired to solve. In some cases, it defeats the purpose of having them there in the first place.
Here are 4 reasons to trust the process:
#1 Have Faith in Your Subject Matter Experts
They know their field. They understand it from a business, industry and often times, a technological perspective. Whereas a customer may work alongside a consultant while still handling their day-to-day jobs, this is the consultant's sole focus. After spending a few days or weeks working on a project, clients sometimes succumb to the risky notion that they can deliver the work more appropriately than the specialist they hired to do it could. However, periphery exposure or short term involvement will never equal the experience and competence of a dedicated advisor who is embedded in this work daily.
#2 This Is Not Their First Rodeo
Consultants have done this many times before. They've seen it through from beginning to end, learned from mistakes and picked up some tricks along the way. As a result, a good advisor will be able to anticipate certain outcomes and see several steps ahead. This experience is then incorporated into their methodology so it can be used on future work.
#3 Capitalize On A More Holistic and Objective Viewpoint
Unlike most employees of mid- to large-sized companies, consultants usually have the advantage of both vertical and horizontal access to different areas of the organization. Also, when a client is too close to an issue, views can be distorted, leaving plenty of opportunity for opinion to blur information. A third party assessment can offer more objectivity and clarity to an issue, allowing consultants to apply a company's insights more effectively.
#4 There Is No Such Thing as Bad "Breadth"
Exposure to different clients across many organizations and industries provides the opportunity to encounter and overcome a variety of challenges. This breadth of experience contributes to a knowledge base that each new client has the potential to benefit from. Companies gain by leveraging lessons learned on a previous client's dime.
Hiring an advisor, but not believing in their process can imply a lack of faith in their work. If that's the case, perhaps it's time to do more vetting. Otherwise, embrace the methodology. It's there to facilitate work, lighten everyone's load and help get the most from a client's consulting buck.