For a Consultant, there’s nothing better that to say “Yeah, we can do that” to a customer request. The problem is, what if you really can’t do that?
Consultants, Service Providers & even some resellers want to gain their customers trust and be the go-to person for their needs, however, that’s not always the best practice. You’re only going to have so many skills in house. Being a one-stop-shop for your clients is good in theory but it takes the right business model.
One of the more common practices is where a Consulting firm tries to be an “everything shop” by hiring staff that function in multiple disciplines. I had a vendor visit me once while I was an IT Director saying her company did “everything”. When I inquired more, she showed me a card that listed over 25 distinct business units. Everything from structured cabling to software development.
Having worked for companies like that before, I asked “How many people work for you here?”. She said “12”.
That means each person was working 2 or more business units. While that may work from time to time, it isn’t a sustainable business model.
Why? Because the companies cash flow comes from billable hours. These 12 people have to be busy 30-40 hrs a week for the company to sustain a profit. As a result, the service they provide is only going to be as good as the people available for that specific job.
Take it a step further. What if one person leaves the company? They lose a couple competencies in the process. Replacing that person that has core skills in a couple different (and sometimes unrelated) area is a hiring nightmare.
When a company does business that way, it’s hit or miss on every job depending on the available resources.
Fortunately there’s a better way.
There are firms out there who’s role is that of a Trusted Advisor. Trusted Advisors know the basics of the various business units, but more importantly, they have a large referral network to bring in experts who specialize in a certain area and are available at the time. No temps, but reputable firms who have narrowed down their core competencies.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “why would I hire someone to hire people? I can coordinate that myself”. And if you actually have the time to research companies, interview multiple providers, get quotes, compare service and pricing, sign contracts, deal with disputes and manage the whole project yourself, great! Chances are you don’t. Those tasks take a lot of skill and a lot of time. If you have someone with that kind of time on their hands, you’re probably overstaffed and would be better off outsourcing that when you need it.
Also, the cost isn’t as bad as you think. A Trusted Advisor who’s willing to line-item costs should be able to give you a pretty fair deal to take a lot of work off your hands. They’re not easy to find, but valuable to have. Most consultants who want to do everything in house and are not comfortable referring business out. Advisors love bringing in their partners to a job because they know the job will get done right.
Trusted Advisors are able to provide a very well rounded service and perform at 100% most of the time. It’s not easy. It takes a lot of research and time spent with the partners, but once that network is built and the effort is made to nurture those partner relationships, we’re able to take on almost everything without having to hire a lot of internal staff to do it.
Having the best of the best partners at our disposal, we’re able to truly say “Yeah, we can do that” and be true to our word.