By Sharoq al-Malki
To stay strong and remain ahead in the fiercely competitive global scenario, most thriving business organisations must constantly search for newer advantages and take smart entrepreneurial decisions, while orchestrating strategic changes.
And to achieve these milestones, most leading world companies regularly employ consulting services; to assist them build and fortify their competitive edge.
On the other hand, several globally competitive firms believe that learning the ropes of the business from locally situated cutting edge companies is more favourable compared to hiring a consultancy firm! In fact, such companies (and senior managers) are of the view that there is really no need to hire international consultants for strategic thinking and guidance. They feel that local business experts can satisfy this requirement effectively and efficiently.
The question being asked is why hire a consultancy firm! Why don’t we borrow expertise from local best practices? Let’s find out, shall we?
Weighing the pros and cons of hiring consultants:
One of the major reasons why top-notch companies hire consultancy firms is to address the variation in staff needs.
Companies might have short-term staffing needs, medium-term at times, due to factors such as sudden expansion plans or when they land a big project. In such situations, consultants “plug a hole” by playing the role and fulfilling the requirement of full-time staff.
While this is an expensive proposition, it saves the firm ample time and resources, which can be more valuable than the money spent in paying the consultant’s fees.
While this remains true for several global firms, some management experts believe that the company management will know their firm better than the relatively inexperienced, almost just-out-of-school consultants. So why hire a consultancy firm for thousands of dollars a day to achieve what the incumbent management is already better capable of?
The major disadvantages of hiring a consultant can turn out to be the following:
1) The cost factor
Hiring a consultancy firm is usually expensive. And it does not seem to be a sound business decision to hire them for a job that your employees can very well accomplish.
2) Quality ‘control’
Hiring an unknown consultant often makes quality control difficult as you don’t really have any idea about their skill set. They usually work at their convenient time and place, and there is a marked lack of visibility and interaction.
Moreover, proficient management experts argue that when you hire local experts, you are gathering best practices from across any particular industry and thus, in effect, cross-fertilizing ideas, which can lead to amazing results. So, they recommend borrowing expertise from local best practices rather than hiring consultants.
How can learning from ‘local expertise’ benefit your company?
There are several very compelling reasons as to why local best practices can prove to be the best.
1) Cost savings for budding companies
Globally, there are several high potential start-up firms that do not have resources to meet the monetary demands of consultants. The best option in their case, in order to shorten their learning curve and curtail their settling time, would be to learn from local industry experts.
As a beginner, you must particularly seek help from another organisation that has managed to chart a growth track within a short span of its existence; or may be a company that handled a merger successfully. You could also aspire to learn from an organisation that streamlined its staff to become leaner and more profitable.
It all depends on what your immediate, short-term or medium-term business goal is.
2) Ease in taking tough calls
Imagine this. You are a relatively new company juggling between weighing the pros and cons of taking a tough decision. At such a time, experienced industry experts can come to your timely rescue. Of course, a direct competitor will be far from willing to help you. But another company operating in a business related to yours, but not directly competing, will be more than glad to offer advice.
3) Continuous learning – sure shot path to success
Some of the best-known companies today have realised that constant learning and development is a definite way to success. These companies either periodically hire professional trainers to train their employees on key operational aspects or invite industry experts to play the same role.
The latter option comes quite handy when your goal is to learn what tactics are leading to the highest success rates in the industry. In this manner, your employees can learn the best strategies that local experts know and execute, without spending any time in trial and error.
4) Engaging SMEs in the development life-cycle
Are you about to execute a new key project? And will its success or failure define the future course of your organisation? Do not take chances. Do all you can to win the heart of subject matter experts or SMEs within or outside your industry; and involve them in this key step of your developmental life-cycle. Capitalise on their experience and expertise and ensure that your imminent project shapes up to deliver the best output.
5) Culturally close local expertise
However efficient consulting firms are, they usually fail to match the cultural rapport that your company and your employees can share with local experts. These experts understand you and your requirements better than any internationally reputed consultant and are aware of what will work and will not in the specific local circumstances.
These are some of the most significant areas in which learning from local expertise can enhance a company’s operational expertise and hence its stature in the industry.
There are some very successful public and private sector companies in Qatar that have made a mark in their respective industries.
Some of the leading examples in the energy sector are Qatar Petroleum, RasGas Company Limited, ORYX GTL and Shell. These companies have achieved success on several critical parameters including financial success and in terms of enhancing and retaining their customer base. The very popular, private non-profit Qatar Foundation that leads development in education and science also belongs to this super successful category.
These are some of the ‘local’ companies that you could turn to for advice and guidance when you are unsure about any aspect of your organisational management.
Your turn now.
Did you ever borrow value from a local industry expert? Did it turn out to be the most invaluable experience for your start-up? Or did you ever hire a consultancy firm? And did it prove valuable for your company? Tell us your bit of story.
Or are you still wondering why borrow from local expertise at all? Well, the benefits are for you to experience!
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