Wikipedia’s definition of a consultant..
A consultant (from Latin: consultare “to discuss”) is a professional who provides expert advice in a particular area such as security (electronic, or physical), management, education, accountancy, law, h.r, marketing, public relations, finance, and many other specialized fields.
A consultant is usually an expert or an experienced professional in a specific field and has a wide knowledge of the subject matter. The role of consultant outside the medical sphere (where the term is used specifically for a grade of doctor) can fall under one of two general categories. Internal, and External.
Good Reasons to Hire an External Consultant
- The organization has limited or no expertise in the area of need, for example, to develop a new product or program for customers and clients.
- The time of need is short-term, for example, less than a year, so it may not be worth hiring a full-time, permanent staff member.
- The organization’s previous attempts to meet its own needs were not successful, for example, the organization developed a Strategic Plan that was never implemented.
- Organization members continue to disagree about how to meet the need and, thus, bring in a consultant to provide expertise or facilitation skills to come to consensus.
- Leaders want an objective perspective from someone without strong biases about the organization’s past and current issues.
- A consultant can do the work that no one else wants to do, for example, historical data entry. (Some would argue that this is not really a consulting project.)
- A funder or other key stakeholder demands that a consultant be brought in to help further develop the organization.
Poor Reasons to Hire External Consultants
The following reasons are likely open to disagreement – some people would argue that some or all of the following are good reasons to hire a consultant.
- The organization wants a consultant to lend credibility to a decision that has already been made, for example, the Board of Directors has decided to reorganize the nonprofit, but the Chief Executive Officer disagrees – so the Board hires a consultant to lend expert credibility to their decision. Many consultants might consider this reason to hire a consultant unethical.
- A supervisor does not want to directly address a problem of poor performance with one of the employees, so the supervisor hires a consultant to do the job that the employee should be doing. This is an irresponsible action on the part of the supervisor.
- The organization does not want to pay benefits (vacation pay, holiday pay, pension, etc.) or go through the administrative processes to withhold payroll taxes (social security taxes, federal taxes, etc.) for a position — a position that seems consistent and long-term, e.g., longer than a year or more — so the organization hires a consultant. This reason for hiring a consultant is likely to be illegal and could result in the organization paying fines and penalties to the appropriate government agency. The organization should proactively contact the IRS to discuss this situation.
Might seem odd for a Consulting Company to put reasons not to hire them on their website.. Pros and cons, good and bad to steer you and your company in the right direction to make the best possible decision possible. Isn’t that what a Consulting Company is supposed to do?