We continue the thought exercise introduced in previous posts to investigate the differences between classic and modern consulting.
In this post, we'll be looking at a different option than the one we looked at in the last post in order to address the given situation.
What is that situation, you ask? That's a great segue for the...
The situation we're considering is as follows:
- You are in charge of a large project to implement a new business process that is to be heavily automated.
- You have a fixed budget and deadline.
- You currently do not have the expertise or staff to undertake and complete the project.
- You want to make as big (read: positive) an impression as possible.
- Do you go a similar route as option 1 and field the staff necessary to implement the plan?
- Do you contract out the work to another firm that specializes in development?
- You will need lead time to find a vendor that best suits your needs (unless, of course, you have a vendor of record for such tasks). This is likely to be shorter than the time needed to screen for internal staff.
- Time will have to be spent so the vendor can gather requirements and you can share the plan you're working to implement. This will likely take about the same amount of time as if you were working with your own internal staff (and provided that they are also utilizing best practices and processes, which they should be; if the vendor isn't, then that's a serious red flag).
- You may well save time in development if the vendor is quite experienced as you can be assured their project staff and developers are proven and seasoned. An internal staff might take longer to suss out in terms of these same qualities.
- There is a single "throat to choke" and, God forbid, if things really go pear shaped, you can likely recuperate some of the cost (remember your goals from the first post in this series?). We all know bosses who are impressed by the timeless art of "grinding".
- The hourly cost of such a vendor are most likely going to be higher than that of an internal staff, but keep in mind you're no longer carrying much of the overhead, and you can engage them for a fixed length of time.
- A solid roadmap that can be used to guide the implementation of your project and help ensure its success.
- Quick to "hit the ground running" for getting the project started.
- Very likely going to cost less over the lifespan of the project (see the caveats above).
- Accountability from vendors.
- After you have the plan, additional questions and consultations with the consultant will cost (probably by the hour). If the consultant is busy, finding time to schedule you in might not work with your own schedule.
- Time spent in back-and-forth between the consultant, yourself, and/or the development team can cause frustration, lost time, and additional financial costs. (This is what I like to call a real "time vampire").
- If the development team decides to take liberties/assumptions with the plan given, because they might not have the insight that the consultant has, it could subtly steer the project in a direction slight off-target. Enough of these "liberties" can derail a project entirely if left unchecked.
- If things do go wrong, the blame game makes a serious appearance. Who's to blame? The consultant? The development team? Some combination thereof, and if so, how do you address the issue? If this does happen (and it can/will), you will spend a lot of time running around between the two sides to get to the bottom of the issue. It's not an A&E-type of situation (i.e. that's not exactly time well spent).