One of the biggest challenges that organizations face is knowing when to ramp up employees and when to ramp down. Nobody wants to be in a position where that trend is dictated by the market and you are always being reactive, but often times companies fall into that trap. They invest heavily in full time consultants because projects are ramping up and there seems to be no end in sight. The counter side of that is when the market takes a turn or makes an adjustment. The last thing an organization wants is the reputation of layingoff their teams once those changes occur.
A flexible consulting model, while sometimes hard to define, is a great goal for any company playing in the true consulting world. I can make my own recommendation, which is a three-layer approach.
- Core Team. These are full time consultants with heavy experience at the heart of your core business and they promote and consult on all internal initiatives and key clients.
- A+ Consulting Team. These are seasoned, professional consultants with key skill sets in your core business. They work with you often, but remain project based and can augment their time between your projects and outside work. They foster great loyalty to your organization, but also understand they are project based.
- Top Talent. These are pre-screened consultants who your team has used for project work in the past and knows to be dependable. There are times when they are available and times when they are not. You call them for specific needs and know you will get first class work if they timing is right.
The healthcare IT market can serve as a great example for the value of this structure. Over the last five years, firms could not find enough talented EMR consultants to fill out their teams. They hired far and wide and brought as many people to their bench as humanly possible. Recent market changes and completion dates have put a screeching halt to those efforts. You are now seeing former ‘high growth’ companies in a massive downward spiral forced into multiple rounds of layoffs and firings. Yet, there remain a few solid firms who had the foresight to hire smartly from these 3 core groups of talent. They are not only surviving, but thriving in this contracted market because they have a valuable asset – consultant loyalty.
So, take a look at your internal teams as you begin to grow and staff up for the next wave of projects. Take time to get to know your consultants, invest in them, and implement a smart growth plan.