Did you find something, in addition to your waistline, spiraling out of control towards the end of last year? Training consulting costs can get away from you before you know it. One expert in the field has some tips to pass along to rein them in.
For starters, companies need to know what does not work, says Diane Valenti, a veteran consultant. Common strategies to control consulting costs may be a mirage, she says. "Fixed bids benefit the consultant, not you. And low hourly rates may not translate into results," says Valenti, who notes she has seen too many companies overspend on consulting. She recommends you:
1. Hire a consultant, not a vendor. A vendor is focused on developing a deliverable. A consultant is focused on achieving results. When money runs low, a consultant can help you figure out how to achieve your results with the budget that remains. A vendor will be looking for ways to cut corners, a practice that can hurt quality.
2. Do not treat consultants like employees. Consultants are on the clock even when you are late, distracted, disorganized, or in an unproductive meeting. Make your time with them sacrosanct.
3. Know the scope and stick to it. Scope creep is the biggest culprit behind high consulting costs.
4. Consider small consulting firms or independent consultants. Often you can get the same or better results for a fraction of the cost of hiring a name consulting firm.
5. Avoid schedule delays. Schedule delays are costly because they result in additional project management to revise the schedule and to get the team up and running again.
6. Watch the budget closely. See where you are in relation to your budget every week. Strategize with the consultant about how to reach your goal if funds are evaporating faster than the work is progressing.
7. Shield the consultant from internal politics. At best, political squabbles absorb the consultant's time and your budget as he or she attends unproductive meetings. At worst, they can nullify the consultant's work, which means you are spending a lot of money for zero results.
8. Know what you want to accomplish. If your goals are not clear, you will waste time and money figuring things out, and you could even end up hiring the wrong consultant.