If the company already has a mature HR and all job descriptions are dispersed among regular FTEs, why hire a consulting agency? At the first glance it doesn’t make sense. Consultants usually charge more than what you’d pay your employees. So, is there a valid reason for outsourcing some of work to consultants? I will explore three reasons why it would make sense.

1. Absence of in-house expertise.
Let’s face it, you can’t know everything. No matter how experienced and skillful your staff is, there are situations when additional knowledge is needed. Instead of hiring a new employee, training him/her and all the hurdle associated with it, a more cost effective solution is to bring in an outside expert. Correctly selected consultants are your partners. They will implement solutions (sales process or strategy development, for example) and will equip you with the toolset that you will be able to use yourself right after the end of the engagement.

2. Another viewpoint
Consulting firms are usually subject matter experts. This means they “have been there and have seen that.” They can view your business from the unique perspective comparing it against industry standards and practices. A good consultant is there to listen to you, has no agenda, and understands that the project belongs to the you, not the consulting company.

A consultant has an ability (and responsibility) to articulate opinions freely while company’s employees might be afraid to do so. The ability to questions company’s traditions and assumptions might raise uncomfortable questions and as a result may initiate positive change.

3. On demand service
Let’s say you have a project coming up and let’s imagine it is an implementation of a new CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system. Once implemented, it just runs. You don’t need a specialist any more to regularly install and configure it. Hiring a consulting firm for that task would make most sense. You write a check and forget about it.

How do you choose the right consultant for your company?

First, interview the consultant to see if the right skills are there. Ask questions about what projects involved the consultant, how the consultant worked and how he or she delivered and met expectations. This will give you insights into the consultant’s expertise and methodology. Second, ask for references.

You must find a consultant you can trust. This will be the key to a productive relationship.

Make sure your employees understand the reason for bringing in a consultant. Seeing an outsider on premises sometimes makes employees more nervous about keeping their jobs.

Finally, look for a consultant who is genuinely interested in your business and seeing it succeed.