Sunday, 14 April 2013

Spring Cleaning

Sub zero temperatures, sleet and the return of British Summer Time. Yes, it is an English spring and time to think about a clear out, and to ask yourself:

 Do we really need all those consultants cluttering up the corridors?

Now obviously I think consultants are a good thing, after all consultancy is what I do for a living, at least in theory. And that, actually, is my point. A lot of consultants are employed doing work that isn't actually consultancy.

In my own case I have to point out the reason I don't spend my whole time doing consultancy is because relatively little of my time is billable to TCS clients, instead my focus is on building long-term relationships between TCS and our clients.

On the other hand there are those consultants who are primarily driven by what we in the trade call afterwork. Afterwork is where big consultancy firms make their figures. Afterwork is where they place under skilled junior staff to fill up every empty desk in your workspace. Now there are lots of consultants, especially those in large consultancy firms, quite happy to take your money and run. Equally there ae many who will question what they are getting out of the engagement.

The question you need to ask yourself is very simple:

What value am I getting from employing a consultant?

To answer that question you need to consider what the alternatives are. Could you take on an interim manager? Should you skill up your own team? Could you shift to a lower level of consultancy firm? Could you exploit the consultancy capability of your technology vendors? Alternatively are you under-exploiting the consultants you currently have on site, and gradually reducing their ability to influence where you are going?

My rule of thumb is that if a consultant has been on site every week for more than three months then you need to start asking some hard questions of yourself. 

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