Reasons to use an outside supply chain consultant

January 10th, 2012 4:43 pm Category: Global Supply Chain, Profit Network, Supply Chain Improvement, by: Mark Rockey

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When working with our clients we try to understand the reasons why they decided to use an outside consultant. I surveyed several of our clients to understand their thinking on this topic and the content of this blog entry should largely be credited to them.

While there are a number of reasons for engaging an outside consultant, those reasons fall into three broad categories which are

1) Resource capability

2) Resource availability

3) Training / Partnership

Resource Capability

In planning a project a key question to ask is “What skillsets are required to accomplish the work?” It may not be cost effective to maintain certain skillsets in-house if those skillsets

1) are not part of the core mission of your company and / or

2) are readily available at a reasonable cost on the outside.

Resource capability, though, can be thought of in broader terms than just expertise. An outside consultant can provide

1) a fresh perspective

2) objectivity

3) knowledge of best-in-class practices

4) political cover

In these kinds of situations, engaging outside resources makes eminent sense.

Resource Availability

Once you have settled on the skillsets required to accomplish the work, if those skillsets are not available in-house then obviously you’ll need to engage outside resources. But if they are available in-house you’ll need to determine if those in-house resources have enough capacity to accomplish the work within the required time frame.

If the resources needed are not available over the time frame required then an option is to make a permanent hire but there may not be enough time to do a proper search and after you hire someone presumably for the long term.

By engaging an outside consultant you can almost always get that resource working on your project sooner and will have that resource engaged for a limited time for a known cost up front (assuming fixed pricing).

Training / Partnership

Some of our customers want to have capable and available resources to do the work in house but do not currently. In those cases, an outside resource can help you build the capability in house via a partnership of training and / or mentoring. Here the clear end goal is to develop the long term in house resources to continue the work.

So whether it is to complement the capabilities of your organization supplement existing capacity or train and mentor new in house skills, consider how outside resources might help you meet your objectives.

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  • John Sills

    I have had clients ask for consultants

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