Project Management

The Pros and Cons of Consultants

Michael R. Wood is a Business Process Improvement & IT Strategist Independent Consultant. He is creator of the business process-improvement methodology called HELIX and founder of The Natural Intelligence Group, a strategy, process improvement and technology consulting company. He is also a CPA, has served as an Adjunct Professor in Pepperdine's Management MBA program, an Associate Professor at California Lutheran University, and on the boards of numerous professional organizations. Mr. Wood is a sought after presenter of HELIX workshops and seminars in both the U.S. and Europe.

What comes to mind when you ponder the possibility of engaging a consultant? Is it dread or excitement? The high cost or opportunity for growth? Let’s face it: Most of us have heard good things and bad things about using consultants, most of which are true.

The truth is, when it comes down to consultants there are no rules--no generally accepted professional qualification standards. It’s just buyer beware. Even the term has no real definition as applied to a broad landscape of providers; from contract staff to strategic advisors, from interim executives to project managers. Plus, consultants can play a variety of roles from coach to line worker. A post at Computer Graphics Systems Development Corporation entitled “How and When to Use Technical Consultants” frames it this way:

“With no standard terminology, there is no reason why you cannot think of Henry Kissinger as temporary help, and no reason why a janitor cannot bill himself as a consulting sanitation specialist.”

It is a free-for-all out there, so doing your homework is essential for success.

The post goes on to ask these fundamental questions for us to ponder when deciding whether to use a consultant or not:

“The distinctions that count are:

  • How much expertise do you require?
  • How much supervision do you expect to provide?
  • Do you want …

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