In the Trenches: Working With Consultants
I’ve never had a particularly positive view of consultants. That’s probably because I’ve mostly seen big companies use them poorly.
Time and time again, the result was the same: The firms wasted money by getting outsiders to tackle unnecessary tasks and by channeling internal resources toward helping them instead of having employees do their own work. That said, there are excellent uses for consultants, such as complex IT integrations or special projects that lie outside of a company's core expertise (like a merger).
So, I recently started to consider whether it might make sense to use a consultant at Cranky Concierge. My interest isn’t in finding a consultant to help us with strategy, marketing, etc. Rather, if I’m going to hire a consultant, it will be to take on specific projects that we can’t handle ourselves. Right now, the projects that come to mind are the ones I wrote about last week: email migration, customer database creation, and phone system migration.
There are plenty of people who could handle email migration. But we aren’t that big, and I’ve done a migration myself before. Thus, it seems that it would take longer to find the right consultant and explain what we need than to just do the job myself over a weekend. I feel pretty much the same way about phone system migration. Neither of those projects should really be that hard.
However, when it comes to creating a customer database, we might benefit from seeking outside help. Not only am I unfamiliar with exactly which system would be best for us, but I also don’t know how to install or customize the software. When the time comes, I will probably poke around a little to see how difficult it might be. But I’m just guessing that the job may be too much for me to handle, because I'm just not familiar with these systems and their capabilities.
I’ll have to find the right consultant to help with the job. Any suggestions?
Brett Snyder is President and Chief Airline Dork of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. Snyder previously worked for several airlines, including America West and United, before leaving to create a travel search site for PriceGrabber.com. Snyder did his undergrad at George Washington and earned his MBA from Stanford.