Tag Archive: consultant

  1. Surprising Productivity and Cost Advantages to Hiring a Consultant Over an FTE

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    If you’ve struggled to find the right candidate or retain people central to your operations, you’re not alone. According to a recent Microsoft report, nearly 41% of the global workforce is contemplating quitting their jobs. The term for this change is the “Great Resignation.” This massive transition means that keeping existing projects alive – and embarking on new projects – may require a shift in how you think about full-time employees vs. consultants.

    Previously, the metric for making this decision might have been merely, “Which one is cheaper?” Now, with longer times to acquire talent and a more difficult path to retain that talent, the concept of affordability becomes outdated. It doesn’t take into account how long a person has to be in their job before you receive the maximum benefit from them. It also doesn’t account for the emerging trend of a person leaving their job soon after being hired.

    Additionally, the cost metric is usually based on an annualized view of a team member. If the job role is a short-term need (for example, to help your company get past a project goal post) you may not need that team member after the work is completed. For project-based needs, we need to look at the time-to-full-productivity as a better measure of when you can expect to achieve a return on your investment.

    How to Determine the Time-to-Maximum-Productivity

    When determining how long it will take for you to see maximum productivity from your new team member, we look at specific metrics:

    1. What is the time to acquire talent?
      Currently the time for acquiring consultant talent is about 7 days. Compare this with a full-time employee (FTE), which can take at least 28 days.
    2. How long does it take to on-board talent?
      Because consultants are not signing up for all the various programs a company has to offer and they don’t need to be integrated into all of the company’s systems, the time-to-on-board averages three days.​​An FTE typically takes about 10 days to onboard, because they need to be brought up to speed on all company policies and be added into the company’s systems and infrastructure. They may also need to take crucial training courses, because they will be lasting beyond the project and will need to be able to handle different kinds of work.

    How long for the team member to achieve 100% productivity?

    A consultant is an experienced candidate hired to deliver on a specific project. Because of the vetting process, the person will be matched with the project at hand based on their experiences, skill set, and ability to perform the required work quickly and correctly. The time to full productivity is much shorter than for an FTE.

    Unlike a consultant, an FTE may have additional responsibilities and meetings as they are more fully integrated into the company. There is an emphasis on developing lasting relationships with other employees and team-building. This process elongates the time to full productivity.

    Chart Illustrating Time to Maximum Productivity

    As illustrated in the graph above, acquisition, onboarding, and time-to-maximum productivity takes approximately 40 days for consultants and 206 days for a typical FTE. In other words, a consultant will be fully productive five times faster than an FTE. It can be easy to overlook the

    SG&A (Sales, General & Administrative Expenses), fringe benefits, overhead, and talent acquisition costs, which can give an inaccurate view of the true costs of an FTE.

    Putting This in Financial Terms

    To understand the financial impact of reaching full productivity, assume a base consultant cost of $125/hr. With the additional SG&A associated with that consultant, that number becomes $156.25 per hour. On the other hand, an FTE earning a salary of $135,000 would have an hourly rate (SG&A, overhead, fringe benefits, & talent Acquisition Costs) resulting in an hourly rate of $189.84. To calculate out the expense to full productivity, for a consultant the cost would be $6,250 vs $39,107 for an FTE.

    Perhaps even more important than the financial impact is the time savings. Because a consultant can be fully productive in 40 days versus 206, a consultant saves you 166 days  – or about 5 ½ months – of time. Imagine delivering a project 5 ½ months earlier and at cost savings relative to the time investment. Conversely, imagine having to wait an additional 5 ½ months to deliver on a stalled project.

    How Do I Know If a Consultant Approach Might Be an Option for My Company?

    To assess if a consultant approach might be a good fit for your company, it’s helpful to understand some key elements:

    • Are you trying to reach a deadline quickly? If so, consultants will save you time and cost.
    • Is this an ongoing need within the company or is this role needed after the project completes? For ongoing needs or job roles that will be needed after project completion, a full-time employee might be a better option.
    • Do you need to get some projects completed while you continue your search for the right full-time employee? Consultants are the solution.

    Let Project Deliverables Drive Team Building Decisions

    In a marketplace filled with challenges to find the right talent, it’s important to look at different ways to get projects completed. When a top priority is driving goal posts on a project or where the needed skill sets are unique to the market, consultants can deliver a good return on your investment and help your business stay on track.


  2. Inside the Mind of a Consultant

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    Once you understand what is going on in the mind of a Consultant, it becomes a lot easier to make sense of what they are doing and why. So why not take a moment and come step inside a Consultants brain (don’t worry, it’s a bright and fun place to spend some time).

    Editor’s Note: The definition of a consultant used here is more clearly explained in a past blog, Consulting as a Profession, as there are many people claiming to be ‘consultants’ in today’s gig world.

    A Consultant’s mind is always focused on the why they are there

    Consultants work with client companies to solve specific business challenges. This is their “value-add” and their entire reason for “being”.

    Typically, companies hire Consultants for three main reasons:

    • For specialized expertise

    A company may hire consultants to provide a skill-set, that they don’t have internally.

    • To fill resource gaps

    A company may have the expertise to create a solution but could be lacking the person-power to finish the work within a required timeframe.

    • For an outside opinion

    A company may also hire consultants, in order to bring-in an objective third-party opinion or experience, ideas, and insights from outside the organization. Bringing in an outside opinion can provide valuable perspective on the business and empower leadership to make better decisions.

    This often means their projects fits into one of two “buckets”:

    • Advisory

    This is when a Consultant is hired to advise their client on things such as company strategy, market conditions, or operational dynamics within specific industries.

    • Implementation

    An implementation project can be an add-on to an advisory project. For example, after analyzing data, a Consultant may recommend some specific actions. If their client doesn’t have the resources or capabilities required to do this, they may hire the same or different Consultants to implement these recommendations.

    Knowing this helps explain why Consultants consistently focus on what the specific challenge or challenges are they have been brought in to look at, what they have been asked to do (advise, implement, etc.) or “bring to the table” (resources, expertise, experience, etc.), what the client wants, and the budget and deadlines involved with successful project delivery: they want to ensure they are always adding value!

    A Consultant’s mind feeds on data

    One of the first thing a Consultant typically does when starting a project is create a ‘data-request’ (a long, long, long, list of documents, reports, numbers, and other relevant information) for the client. They also ask A LOT of questions.

    Why do they do this and why are they like this?

    Well, one of the worst things a Consultant can do is “shoot from the hip” … they respect that many of the people within their client’s organization have a significant amount of knowledge and experience built over many years, and understand that people from the outside who don’t take the time to analyze and understand the situation and organization have the tendency to say and do stupid things!

    This is why they hate to assume anything (they want to build trust with the client in both themselves and the process) and why Consultants are typically curious people, why they love to consume all that data, and why they consistently want your input … their brains crave information so they can build a strong fact-base, quickly, and be as informed as possible, so that they can effectively collaborate with all their client’s people, to help answer the questions and issues they’ve been asked to look at!

    A Consultant’s mind is organized and analytical

    With all that data and information sloshing around, a Consultants mind needs to be organized: that’s why they love building and applying structures and frameworks!

    Consultant’s often “think in pictures”

    After reaching their findings and forming recommendations, Consultants typically have to present them to their clients.

    It’s important to them that they make their presentations as clear, interesting, and insightful as possible, so they live by the old adage that “a picture paints a thousand words”.

    This explains why Consultants are often “PowerPoint Ninja’s” (they want you to get the full benefit of their work), are constantly drawing pictures, and can have strong attachments to their flip-charts, whiteboards, and colored markers!

    Consultants mind’s think “long-term”

    Consultants live to make a difference: permanently improving organizational effectiveness and performance over the long-term is why they get up in the morning.

    In the mind of a Consultant, the worst thing that can possibly happen is that all their hard work goes to waste and is not implemented.

    This is why they spend a lot of time building relationships, why they focus on building consensus and commitment around their recommendations, and why they love to facilitate client learning (that is, teaching clients how to resolve similar problems in the future) … they want their work to be used and implemented, and they want their clients to be able to do what is needed for them and their company to be successful!

    Now that you understand what goes on inside the mind of a Consultant, and what makes them tick, do you think you might benefit from the help one of them could bring to your company? If so, why not give Core Catalysts a call!

    Mark Jacobs, Client Service & Delivery

  3. Three Reasons Why It Pays To Have An External Perspective

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    People sometimes ask me, “Why do companies hire consultants like you?”

    There are many reasons, but the one I most often point to when answering why companies hire (and get high returns on their investment from) consultants is this: because they want, like, or need an external perspective.

    Think about it like this: you know how sometimes, when you’re dealing with an issue in your life that you’re trying to solve but feel too close to or can’t quite get your head around, you turn to friends and family for their thoughts, opinions, and insights? Companies sometimes need this too!

    A good consultant, like a good friend, doesn’t just answer the questions you ask them: they have your best interests at heart, so they also push to make sure the real issues are identified and understood.

    And a good consultant, just like a good friend, wants and values a long-term relationship, and believes that, ultimately, what is good for you will be good for them.

    And, just like a good friend, a good consultant doesn’t always tell you what you want to hear, but rather what you need to hear.

    How do they do that?

    #1. They will bring deep analytical skills to your problem

    If much of your initial attempts at problem solving have hit a wall of ‘gut-feel’ and ‘instincts’ versus data driven insights, this can be important and helpful: rather than relying on opinion, perceived wisdom, hypotheses, frequently repeated anecdotes, or experience from a time when things were very different, a good consultant will try to build a fact base by crunching through the large amounts of available data to identify patterns, root causes, and opportunities. Logical conclusions drawn from this data will then underpin their recommendations.

    #2. They will bring objectivity to the situation

    A good consultant, who is invested in your success, knows that you are relying on them to stay objective and go where the data leads them. Therefore, without a dog in the fight, they can be detached from any ‘politics’ or history, and unencumbered by emotional attachments, misaligned incentives, or group-think that could be biasing internal viewpoints and perspectives. This means they can be honest and, if necessary, deliver any bad news without the same fear of being outspoken, an outlier, or of what the personal consequences might be …

    This doesn’t mean good consultants are heartless: good consultants are ‘hard-headed’ but ‘soft-hearted’, meaning they want to do what is best for you, the client, but are also mindful of the potential impacts. This means they operate with a genuine sense of compassion, but know that ultimately, maintaining objectivity and relying on data and facts in the face of tough decisions that could negatively affect some people is usually the right thing to do for the majority of the people in an organization, and that everyone wants and deserves respect, dignity, and, above all, the truth.

    # 3. They will have a deep sense of accountability

    Many consultants say that their job is to get results. But most of the time this means identifying what the client needs to do to get results. In other words, most consultants take accountability for the quality of their recommendations, but not for their implementation, believing that this is the client’s job.

    Great consultants, like great friends, will partner with you and be your ‘accountability-buddy’, committed to helping you achieve results from start-to-finish, end-to-end, problem identification to strategy development to execution.

    In today’s world, consultants having specialized skills, deep expertise, and relevant experience is table stakes.

    If you think you might benefit from an external perspective, and want a consulting partner who will bring deep analytical skills, objectivity, and a deep sense of accountability, why don’t you give us a call today?

    Mark Jacobs, Client Service & Delivery