Data – whether structured or unstructured – is the most important asset for any business. Whether you decide to handle your information management project with internal resources or hire an outside consulting group, it’s critical to apply the right expertise – because failure could have significant consequences.
When It Makes Sense to Hire a Consultant
So, when does it make the most sense to hire a consultant instead of handling it in-house? There are two main triggers:
- Your team is maxed out
- Your team doesn’t have all the necessary expertise for this project, including:
- Deep subject matter knowledge
- Change management expertise
Choose a consultant when your internal team is maxed out.
The old adage, “Do more with less” just doesn’t work when your team is overwhelmed. It seems that the new normal is to operate at 110 percent with 80 to 90 percent of the resources you actually need. This is concerning.
One of the chief issues that face our clients is a lack of staff to execute the objectives with which they’ve been tasked. You might add a specialty or one-time project like a migration to Microsoft Office 365, a customer communications management (CCM) overhaul, a digitization effort, or a sensitive and risky data clean up. With these scenarios, it often becomes difficult to justify a 1- or 2-year hire, let alone find specialized talent for a short-term gig. That’s when managers will look internally to train an employee. This approach has significant opportunity costs associated with it however, including the daily responsibilities that are being shortchanged, and a greater risk of project failure.
Choose a consultant when your team is lacking critical expertise.
Building on the last point – the risk of project failure is significantly greater when staff members are asked to learn on the job and become experts for a one-time project. Conversely, niche consultants already have deep expertise in their subject matter areas, and are familiar with the vendor landscape, as well as the potential pitfalls and roadblocks that are unique to your type of information management project.
Subject matter expertise alone isn’t enough.
Expertise comes in many forms – the most obvious of which is subject matter knowledge. But to see a project to fruition, you also need someone on your team with significant change management skills. For example, you’ll need experts who can communicate the importance of the project both horizontally across business lines, and vertically from the project manager all the way up to the C-suite – adapting the language as necessary to resonate with those different stakeholders.
You’ll also need someone who is experienced in designing processes that bring about the desired change. Certainly that should include a detailed roadmap. Not all roadmaps are created equal, though. It needs to be a plan that’s actionable – not just a high level strategy.
You might also need staff training and a communication plan to help you reach your desired future state.
Ultimately your team needs the capabilities to provide the solution to your information management problem, paint the vision of the future, and then create and evangelize the roadmap to make it all happen. If you don’t have these skills in-house, (or the time to properly utilize them), then it’s wise to consider using a consulting group that can cover all of the bases.