Many blog posts and articles address when to use management consultants versus not. Some argue that using consultants for strategy development intimate incompetence by management (example here). Others argue that consultants should be used in cases when expertise is higher than that of existing employees.
Companies should definitely examine the needs and tradeoffs for using management consultants. Tradeoffs include expertise, background in similar projects, knowledge retention, cash outlay, incentives, organizational dependency issues, etc.
But I’ve learned something entrepreneurial from a number of buyers that deeply understand how to use consultants and how to lead:
Many smart buyers of management consulting services focus on making forward progress. They focus on solving problems. Whether using consultants is the cheapest option or the best discount of future profits that a client has ever seen or anywhere in-between – the choice of whether to use consultants is less relevant than getting things done with a positive return.
As a long-time consultant, I am clearly somewhat biased. But I’ve been on the buyer side for consulting services too. My main point is to encourage folks to spend a balanced amount of time focusing on how to solve a problem as opposed to pointing fingers.