Everyone of you understand that you should outsource something to the experts in the world. But you certainly fear doing that to the wrong company. If you understand the dirty secrets of the consulting world, it can work in your favor and help you chose the right company you want to outsource.
We’re a consulting company ourselves and have seen what goes on here. That gives me the authority to write about this topic. I might be shooting my ownself with this article, but nonetheless, it will be in the favor of clients, and hence, us consulting companies eventually.
1) DO NOT TRUST THE WORD “ BEST ”
Best is a superlative word. However, most consulting companies claim to be the industry’s best on their website and sales pitch. As a smart consumer, you must learn to ignore the superlative terms used by the people vying for your business.
A few of the consulting firm in Malaysia claimed themselves originated from UK or USA. If you have done proper research on those companies, in fact, they are just pure local companies who are "UK / USA wannabes" trying hard to impress their customers to stand out from the rest of their competitors. What is wrong with calling yourself local?
Worse still, some of the TRAINING PROVIDERS even dare to brand themselves as CONSULTING FIRM. This amused me much as these jokers don't even know what business they are doing. As a consumer, are you brave enough to let trainers who read directly from PowerPoint slides to handle your projects?
Look for firms that include evidence of their greatness. How many years of experience does an average consultant have? Hong long do their engagements last on average with their clients? What actual awards have they won? What tools or methodologies do they use to separate them from competition?
2) A MOUTHFUL OF ROCK STARS?
Every consulting company boasts of having the best team. The fact is that every consulting company only has only a few rock stars with them. The rest of the team is a compromise they had to make to scale up the team in lieu of large business that comes in. These rock stars are easy to spot from the company blogs and who shows up in the new client meetings.
Try setting up a few appointments with them and you will notice the same face revolving around them. Those were the 'ROCK STARS' dedicated to do sales pitch and clinch your deal. When the deal is clinched, they will have second and third class consultants assigned to your job, which you didn't even aware of.
3) IT’S ALL ABOUT MONEY
Though consulting companies are truly passionate about the things they claim, they have high expenses to retain the team they have. Hence they are under constant pressure to generate sales. Since the sales team has a target to attain, at times they take up projects even if the project does not fall into their sweet spots. For these reasons, during low times, they are forced to pick up projects which do not fall under their forte.
Say for example you come from the financial institutions, and the consultant's forte is basically manufacturing based. Have you spend enough time to look at their CV to determine whether they suit you? Most of the time, the CVs are perfectly written for marketing purposes. DO NOT take it seriously. Try throwing them a few technical terms / questions related to your industry, look into their eyes and see what are their reactions?
4) YOU DEFINITELY NOT GETTING THE BEST
Its obvious that the best will have their best talent reserved for bigger clients than your startup. Hence, they will only engage mid-level or junior talent for your project. Guess what? Now you are no longer working with the “BEST in the industry.” Oh, but look – your billing rate does not reflect that change.
As business minded as you may be, you will hire junior talents to fill up your company's manpower. A 3-weeks old consultant may be assigned as your consultant to fill up their work calendar. Are you still paying for what you get?
Most of the time, prices are determined by the number of man-days utilized. Therefore, man-day rate is quoted. Try asking them how many consultants they have and what are the differences in price and whether a second class consultant is lower in price compared to a senior consultant. They will normally tell you it's the same man-day rate and all their consultants are equally competent.
5) YOU ARE JUST THEIR SMALL ACCOUNT
Even if you manage to meet their minimum requirements, you are always treated as a small account, and they will not be as flexible as you would want a vendor to be when you are paying them so highly. You won’t get the attention you deserve.
If you are paying them in millions, they might probably assign you with their senior consultant who have that capability to handle your project. On the other hand, if you are engaging them for a two-to-three days of job, you are just a 'filling up the gaps' kind of customer. Don't even dream of getting a qualified consultant for your project. They might even send an intern to be your consultant.
6) THEY WILL NOT LISTEN
Since they are the best, you will not be able to raise a voice to be creative and do things differently. In fact, they will tell you what you should be doing all the time. If you are lucky, you are allowed to “whisper” a few times in the conversation, though.
Most of the time being a consultant, their ego is clearly written on their forehead whereby what they say is definitely correct and don't expect them to listen to your opinion. All you got to do is to follow what they preach and do not contest their 'expertise'.
7) THEY JUST WANT TO QUICKLY GET DONE WITH YOU
If you are really very unlucky, they will have bagged a big Fortune 500 account just after they started working with you. Now, they want to focus everyone on that account, and your small project is becoming a hurdle, so they sure know that you are soon not going to be able to afford them.
How flexible in terms of time they have for you when they have other pending projects in hand? Can they accommodate to your timeline? Last minute postponement when the other client changes dates? You tell them you want 1 visit per week, they will counter propose you with 3 visits per week in order to hasten up their time to focus on other bigger projects. All these are imminent.
SO... WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
Choose a consulting firm where you will be an important client. What happens now?
SAM CONSULTING MALAYSIA