We are frequently approached by contact center or IT leaders who want outside help with a project but first need to convince the “powers that be” to consider using a consultant. Some of the reasons they seek us out:
- Lack in-house expertise for the task at hand, often seeking some “best practices” insights or help addressing questions such as, “How do we compare?” or “What are others doing?”
- Want an outside, independent view, with no biases
- Need proven project processes and experienced resources for facilitation, analysis, and actionable deliverables, along with the tools to put it all together
- Want to augment the in-house team, often while needing to move fast and manage risks
If you find yourself in that position, how do you make the case?
Start by showing the risks of not using a consultant. While you may not want to downplay your team’s abilities, it’s important to realistically assess if you have the time, experience, expertise, and know-how to tackle the project. Deficits in any area can lead to things going badly in a number of ways. Projects don’t get done, or they take a LONG time, exceed budget, and worst of all, get done but the result is not pretty (e.g., pay too much or have lots of surprises down the road) and/or functional (e.g., missed key requirements, didn’t consider how things fit together).
Show the value consultants can bring in addressing the pain points you know you have. Think about the drivers you are trying to address, such as improve service, cut or manage costs, drive more revenue, and effectively support growth. Look at how a proper plan of action and decision process can help you address those things and drive savings and/or revenue (and ask the consultant to help if needed).
For example, if you’re pursuing technology, imagine the value of an experienced resource on your team, guiding the process. They’ll help you define thorough requirements and ask targeted questions, bring the appropriate vendors/VARs into play, focus on the true differences, and evaluate and negotiate fair prices and proper service commitments. That support can go a long way toward finding the right solution and managing risk.
Part of selling this idea may be addressing how a consultant beats alternatives. Some may argue, “We can do it ourselves.” Unfortunately, just like in home improvement, “DIY” works fine for familiar, common tasks that you have the experience, resources, and tools to do – all things you are unlikely to have if you don’t do it all the time. Consultants not only have the project experience and expertise, they come with the tools, including structured processes and good “starter” documents (e.g., metrics best practices, organizational roles and job descriptions, comprehensive RFP outline, evaluation criteria, functionality lists).
Outside of the DIY option, some look to their vendors (or their partners) to provide the consultative role. While many have professional services teams, they are product-focused with heightened emphasis on implementation, not optimization. Moreover, they have an inherent bias toward the products and services they sell, and may even have a bogie to help sell more. That won’t always lead to an outcome that is in your company’s best interest.
So as you plan to tackle your next project, think about how a consultant can help you get to an end result that is the most cost effective, beneficial, and targeted to your needs. With the right partner, you’ll also learn a ton along the way and gain a lasting relationship with a trusted advisor.