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A Discussion about Consultants

A consultant is a subject matter expert in a specific activity. That expertise is developed through direct experience or through academic achievement. Consultants exist to share that expertise with clients in order to help the client achieve success. In essence, a consultant provides the expertise that the client requires to conduct operations. Once the consultant has served the requisite purpose, the relationship is often reduced or severed altogether, depending on the needs of the client.

Organizations turn to consultants for a multitude of reasons. Historically, consultants are called upon to help solve a problem. The organization may hire a consultant to solve a specific problem, analyze processes that are being employed, or to apply expertise for a limited duration of time.

Organizations may not possess the resident expertise required to address a specific challenge. For example, a small-scale retail shop may require assistance in analyzing their supply chain in order to realize efficiencies and reduce operating costs. Since the retail shop is focused on providing products to consumers, they may not possess experience with supply chain management. Rather than learn the hard way through expenditure of capital, making expensive mistakes, the retail shop can hire a consultant with supply chain management expertise to design an effective strategy to meet the supply chain needs of the retail shop. In this example, it would not be cost effective for the retail shop to hire a supply chain manager because that would increase operating costs and reduce profitability. By hiring a consultant, the retail shop can take advantage of the expertise of the consultant by learning and employing effective supply chain management principles.

From the perspective of the organization, the benefit of hiring a consultant is that the consultant provides immediate access to expertise without having to incur the cost of hiring a permanent employee. The relationship that is established can be temporary or enduring, depending on the needs of the client. Establishing a temporary relationship with a consultant is a cost-effective strategy to address a lack of expertise. Conversely, establishing a permanent relationship with a consultant allows the organization to tap into the expertise of the consultant as needed. Typically, in this type of relationship, the consultant dedicates a specific number of hours to the client throughout the course of a year, at which the client can utilize to tap into the consultant as necessary. This strategy has proven to be more cost effective than hiring a permanent employee to address a facet of the business that does not drive revenue. Recall the above example regarding the retail shop, wherein the retail shop would not benefit from hiring a full-time employee to perform supply chain management, but will benefit from hiring a consultant with expertise in supply chain management to provide semi-permanent expertise.

Overall, consultants provide a critical service to organizations by providing access to expertise that an organization requires to address a specific challenge. The relationship established with the consultant can be temporary or permanent, and depends on the needs of the organization. Organizations that are looking for a specific type of expertise should consider hiring a consultant as a cost-effective solution to address specific challenges.

Allen Consulting Group is experienced in proving consulting services regarding management, leadership, logistics, supply chain management, and program management. Please reach out today to learn more about our ability to serve your needs.

About the Author

Michael Allen is a logistics and supply chain management professional who analyzes industry best practices and academia to identify and apply lessons learned to improve organizations. Michael is fascinated by industry experiences and seeks opportunities to share those experiences and grow intellectually.

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