How Consultants Can Help to Maximize Your Software Investment
It is first important to determine what we mean by “consultant”.
Some businesses view them as a necessary evil. Others believe they are a waste of time and money. They think, “Why hire a consultant to tell me what time it is when I can just look at my watch?”
The formal definitional of a consultant is “a person who provides expert advice professionally”. There are many reasons to hire a consultant, from providing guidance on a project, to performing a specific task, to being a source of expertise that does not currently reside within your company.
Consultants are unbiased third parties as they have no vested interest in relationships or “the way we’ve always done things.” Consultants view themselves as problem-solvers, whether the problem is one that management can’t answer or one purely of a need for additional capacity. Consultants see their role as helping the client become aware of what is happening through their observations.
In today’s world of Big Data and Software as a Service (SaaS), the benefits of hiring a consultant are endless. While a company may have the internal understanding of its own operations, having the ability to effectively obtain and dissect information is a challenge that many companies are not prepared to handle. Collaborating with a consultant can provide the fastest path to success. This article examines some of the reasons companies have been choosing to hire consultants over utilizing their own internal expertise.
First, consultants offer the ability for clients to have subject matter experts that can provide comparative data to give you a perspective of other similar industries or environments. A consultant can take your data and vet it against other like customers and industry standards to assist in establishing a baseline for your operation. Having the insight to your operations from a third-party point of view can assist in creating realistic expectations and goals. A baseline will allow your operation to stay focused, and your consultant can help to guide your organization in an effective manner until which time trend lines from your own company’s data can be used.
Secondly, consultants can look at key information such as cost drivers or performance metrics and determine the reasons behind what is driving them. The right consultant has the insight to assist in determining what the real causes to an inflating trend line are, or rising costs in an area not seen directly before the new solution was in place. While many companies have internal data analysts to assist in data mining, oftentimes they do not have the internal expertise to determine what decisions to make as a result of the data. A consultant can offer expert knowledge to determine root causes, lead the charge towards the underlying issues behind the data and often push harder than anyone else can to root out the cause. Not only finding the cause, consultants often times have the experience to know where to source the solution if it is not contained within an organization or their own tool bag.
While consultants can provide a great value and help lead you further towards success, having your own champion(s) internally is a necessity to allowing them to succeed. Oftentimes a product or service is purchased by a company, with no previous experience to properly handle or get the most value from the product. Having people in place to train and support a consultant will maximize and expedite the value from this service. Too often, projects lose their momentum because a company doesn't devote the resources to support the investment and the changes necessary to make it a success.
Overall, a consultant can be a key asset to the success of an existing or newly-purchased SaaS or subscription based software / hardware solution. Looking to build on the momentum and excitement of this investment, they provide the direction towards the biggest success. Looking to revitalize the benefits of a system already implemented or purchased? Try looking for a consultant specialized in this area to assist in creating momentum to achieve the largest gains possible from an investment of this nature. Be sure to have the internal support and team members in place to help make the policies, procedures and changes necessary to maximize the value from a consultant.