I may be ex-communicated from the consultant community but…
here are my top 3 worst reasons to use a consultant and one good one:
Bad reason #1 : We can’t decide, can you tell us what to do?
A good consultant can research your options for you, they can point out flaws in your plans, they may make suggestions but YOU should still be making the decisions about YOUR business, shouldn’t YOU?
Bad reason #2 : We don’t understand this, can you do it for us?
A good consultant is there to make you aware, at least in overview, of how a task can be performed. If a consultant is asking you to simply “trust me” and it’s not a case of “this is time critical, I can and will explain later” then it’s time to ask for a coherent briefing. If you still don’t understand consider finding another consultant as either they lack the necessary communication skills or you simply aren’t on the same wavelength. Either way it’s not a good match.
Bad reason #3 : We have been told we need to do this, tell us how?
Understanding why you are doing something is often key to success. The how to do something is usually intertwined with the why to the point that it’s difficult to succeed without that knowledge. A consultant can help you explore whether something is right for you. Unless you work in the military industrial complex or with extremely sensitive material you’ll find that a consultant that doesn’t ask “why do you need this” is likely to give you the same rubber stamp solution that your competitors have.
The best reason: To access a skill for a particular project!
Skill is proficiency developed through training and experience.
If you are venturing into an area you don’t fully understand a consultant can advise and educate you on how to improve your results and limit your risks.
A good consultant draws on experience of similar situations and technologies to advise, educate and often train you in how to best achieve your desired goals.