It’s “game-on” for digital transformation. Accelerated by COVID lockdowns, the pervasive “new normal” has driven greater expectations on engagement and digital product design. These demands are forcing companies to recalibrate their digital priorities to ensure they are competitive and delivering on existing and prospective customer expectations immediately.
With this change comes new realities for business leaders:
Q: What is the habitual organisation response to these types of challenges?
A: “Let’s get more people!”
So What? Well, this is when the real challenge starts and where this conversation begins.
Do I need to hire more employees or should I engage consultants?
Having supported many small businesses and enterprise organisations through this dilemma, we identify five critical decision areas as the ones to tackle when considering the best way to bring in new capability to your business:
The five critical decision areas for employing consultants versus employees:
Below we have unpacked these to help you to assess your requirements against these five critical decision areas.
Deliver objectives in times of uncertainty
The core benefit of hiring a consultant is that you get a team for the price of an individual. With that team comes a breadth of knowledge, cross functional skills, and lateral cross-category problem solving. The additional upside is the ability to plug and play resource capability as required, minimising disruption to delivery and accelerating the outcome.
In times of uncertainty, flexibility and speed are key. Leveraging a consulting capability reduces attrition risk, removes delivery risk and ensures you don’t lose time “bringing people up to speed” or learning what might work vs what will work.
Focus on ROI and outcomes, not headcount
So many times we hear the argument against using a consultant as being “we want to build a team, grow and keep capability, and remove the risk of us having to rely on consultants” – this translates to why so many people think consultants are expensive! However in times of uncertainty and urgency, this is a false economy. ROI is the key measure and stacking up ROI on consultant vs employee should be a critical component of the decision.
Yes, when you engage consultants you might pay more than you would an employee, even if they have similar skills. What you get though is much more. Balancing the cost/benefit is critical and for CEOs and CMOs, this means helping the leaders to understand how to best do this – an immediate higher cost should deliver results faster, at a higher quality (less learning as we go), accelerate team knowledge and minimise IP loss. There’s of course no annual leave and other on-costs.
Build and embed sustained capability
Good consultants will always ensure that the team structure you have is right to support the ongoing delivery of your objectives once they exit. The days of “land and expand” are well and truly behind us (at least that’s our philosophy) and your goal is to extract maximum value by engaging consultants that can demonstrate an ability to execute quickly, deliver ROI and transfer capability. The most significant advantage of engaging consultants is currency of knowledge – it’s our job to be ahead of the market in thinking and capability and we’re often working across multiple challenges at the same time to ensure you have access to the most contemporary skills and capability.
The need for speed immediately
Often the most overlooked and yet simplest measure when deciding on a consultant versus an employee is “How urgent is this?”. Think about the end to end cycle for hiring an employee – from Job add to behind the desk can take up to 2 months. Can your project really wait that long?
A typical consulting engagement can start the very next day after an agreed scope is signed off. This begs the question: Can your business afford two months of inertia before anything gets started?
Knowledge retention and IP control
At a time where companies are willing to pay a premium for expertise, your team’s knowledge is now a highly valued commodity. A consultant’s core mandate is to ensure your IP is protected and stays within your business. When they move on, your IP will stay with you.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein
It will always feel safe and easy to continue to use the same decision making process when faced with common business problems, especially when it comes to hiring a new employee.
If you are looking to increase your market advantage by moving forward faster than your competitors, then we think now is the time to increase the speed of your decision making to find the best person to get the job done right.
We believe the decision to engage a consultant versus hiring an employee will be an easier decision to make if you assess your requirements against these five critical decision areas.
Most problems will become smaller when you confront them instead of dodging them.