Cutting Costs, Not Corners: How to Reduce Spending on Consultants

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An Overreliance on Consultants?

 
Some individuals might be surprised to learn that, on an annual basis, many large companies spend thousands—sometimes even millions—on management consultants. Often, these consultants are called in to pinpoint problem areas within companies as well as develop a series of strategies to resolve them. For this reason, consultant engagements can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few years, depending on the intricacies of the issues at hand.
 
However, as C-level executives have faced increased pressure to regulate company spending, and ROIs related to consultancy have noticeably diminished, the question has cropped up: is there a widespread overreliance on costly management consultants?
 
This question is a useful one, because it allows us to consider what role consultants have been expected to play and what role they should play in pursuit of value addition.
 
In the past, organizations have relied too heavily on management consultants, which have ultimately failed to produce actionable strategies.
 

Knowing the Difference Between Complicated and Complex Challenges

 
Consultants, it should be said, are not fundamentally ineffective. In fact, relying on these specialists can contribute to the success of organizations both big and small.
 
Be that as it may, management consultants shouldn’t be depended upon wholesale.
 
Knowing when to rely on management consultants and when to seek out alternatives is a crucially important distinction to make. Indeed, this distinction stems from the difference between complicated and complex challenges, and can make or break an organization’s ability to effectively solve problems.
 
At its root, a complicated challenge is a solvable challenge; the path from setback to solution is linear. A complex challenge, on the other hand, doesn’t present an obvious solution; the route to resolution is roundabout and littered with roadblocks.
 
Complicated challenges, like implementing a new human resource management system, are ideal for consultants. Their specific knowledge and skill sets make them well suited for these straightforward tasks with clear solutions. Unfortunately, complex challenges, such as post-merger integration, transformation, improving the customer experience, and responsible cost-cutting, cannot be solved by standard or readily available solutions. The latter should be as distinctive as the problems themselves, which is where a capability like Syntegration comes in to play.
 

Many-to-Many Approaches and Reducing Spending on Consultants

 
So, how should organizations go about solving complex problems when they are being tasked with reducing spending on consultants?
 
Increasingly, companies are looking to many-to-many approaches, like Syntegration, to effectively and economically solve problems. As opposed to consultants, who frequently address complex challenges with pre-packaged solutions, or re-package what they’ve learned from previous engagements, Syntegration is innovative.
 
Much like a constellation, Syntegration brings together individuals with unique skill sets, and connects the dots between their various insights. The result? A bright solution for any number of opaque corporate challenges.
 
By bringing together all the right internal and external players—stakeholders, experts, influencers, and decision-makers—organizations are more likely to target the problem, consider it from every angle, and deliver a creative solution. More importantly, by involving in-house talent in the deliberations and allowing them to co-create solutions, you are ensuring quality buy-in.
 
It goes without saying that, in the event that internal talent is deemed insufficient, management consultants can be called upon to supplement this shortage, informing—not owning—the solution forming.
 
By using consultants selectively in the process of problem solving, organizations not only reduce their spending but also wildly improve execution rates, demonstrating that cutting costs doesn’t mean cutting corners. 

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