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Route to Market & Supply Chain Blog

Top 7 Facts & Fiction of Using Supply Chain Consultants

Posted by Dave Jordan on Mon, Mar 19, 2012

Management consultancySome FMCG, Brewing, Pharmaceutical organisations are comfortable with the idea of using consultants while others avoid them like the plague. Having been on both sides of the fence with respect to supply chain consultancy services I can appreciate the pros and cons for each party. There is some truth but an awful lot of misconceptions held on the subject and I thought I would look at what is fact and fiction, in my humble opinion!

1. They are expensive.

Fiction. At the same experience level consultants will undoubtedly be cheaper than the full people cost of a full time employee. Perhaps fees sound a lot when expressed as a daily rate but in reality they are likely to be very competitive.

2. They don’t know any more than we do.

Fiction. One of the benefits of consultancy is that you see a multitude of circumstances in very different companies in a variety of sectors. The cumulative experience gained is something you are unlikely to find in long term employees in an organisation.

3. When they have gone everything reverts back to as it was.

Fiction.  Only if you let it! Good consultants will ensure knowledge is transferred and thoroughly tested through one on one or team training before ending a project.

4. They change things.

Fact. Enabling change is precisely the aim. You would not hire a consultant to maintain the status quo as you want something different to happen, e.g. lower costs, better processes, greater efficiency.

5. They do “just enough” so they can return later and get paid to fix it again.

Fiction. The reputation of consultants can be easily destroyed through bad publicity whether deserved or not. Sustainable improvements in supply chain performance get noticed and word gets around quickly if anyone is unprofessional.

6. They are either just out of university and know nothing or they are pensioners.

Fiction. There is no perfect age to be a consultant but you do need a degree of experience before you can impart this to others. An 18 year old consultant would indeed probably lack credibility.

7. They have short working hours (probably to dash off to the Post Office for the pension payment.)

Fiction. From personal experience I know this to be completely untrue. I have worked extremely long hours to get jobs done against tight timetables. Consultants only get paid for the days they work and clients simply do not extend contracts so you have to get the job done by hook or by crook.

This is just a brief appraisal and there are many more pieces of fiction that could be added. When I was on the other side of the fence I shared some of the negative views but I now appreciate the reality and the value consultants can bring to your business.

Ok, must stop now as the Post Office closes in half an hour...

Image credit: HikingArtist.com

Tags: Interim Management, Dave Jordan, Performance Improvement, Supply Chain

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