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Business Perspective: Salo

Hiring consultants during a crisis: Myth versus fact

| September 2020 Footnote

Editor's note: Updated August 31, 2020

Crises are nothing new for career consultants. After all, organizations often bring in consultants when they have big, hairy, complicated problems to solve and little time to solve them. Diving into challenging work is pretty much the consultant’s whole job description.

Myths about hiring consultants during a crisis

If there’s a crisis in your organization, a consultant might be the secret weapon you need. However, there are common assumptions that might hold you back. Let’s take a minute to address common concerns about hiring consultants during a crisis. (For extra effect, we’ll bust each myth with real examples of Salo consultants helping to tackle the uber-crisis: the COVID-19 pandemic.)

MYTH: It’ll be too hard/time-consuming to onboard a consultant.

FACT: Consultants are experts in getting up-to-speed fast. Every new consulting gig requires jumping into unfamiliar territory and hitting the ground running.

EXAMPLE: In a recent Salo engagement, an organization’s senior accountant left abruptly right before stay-at-home orders began. There was no documentation and the organization’s other employees had minimal insights into the work. With two days’ notice, our consultant dove into the role and figured out the situation quickly — all while working at home. The accounting function was back up and running in a matter of days, and then he documented the process and responsibilities for the incoming permanent senior accountant.

MYTH: We can’t afford a consultant right now.

FACT: There are consulting engagements for all kinds of budgets. Consulting engagements can be tailored to an organization’s needs and budget.

EXAMPLE: We currently have a consultant working at multiple organizations for a few hours a week. Like many of our consultants, she has several areas of expertise, and she enjoys working on diverse projects. Her client organizations like to get her expertise in a smaller engagement. We also have consultants that are working on short-term engagements (e.g., a few weeks). And, of course, sometimes the cost of paying an expert adviser can be far cheaper (not to mention faster and less stressful) than letting your team tackle a new-to-them problem on their own.

MYTH: Consultants only do the sexy projects.

FACT: Consultants can fill day-to-day roles, too. It’s just fine if an organization prefers to have internal resources tackle the hard stuff.

EXAMPLE: When a client’s staff got pulled into COVID-19 emergency response work, they hired Salo consultants to take care of all the routine tasks that still needed to be done. This allowed the internal team to focus exclusively on the crisis at-hand. Similarly, sometimes it makes sense for an internal accounting/finance team to tackle a system implementation because they will be the system’s primary users, they’re most familiar with the general ledger, etc. In that case, consultants can cover the day-to-day work.

MYTH: Consultants won’t go “above and beyond” for an organization like an employee.

FACT: Consultants are driven to help clients succeed (not to mention that consultants want repeat clients, so they have an extra incentive to go the extra mile). Sometimes, that means doing work they never expected when they were hired.

EXAMPLE: A few months ago, one of our finance consultants was hired to fill a gap until a new hire arrived. Then the pandemic hit. The organization (a manufacturer) wasn’t prepared for remote work — much less conducting virtual job interviews or remote training. So, the consultant helped the organization get familiar with virtual meeting tools and developed standard operating procedures for virtual interactions. She topped off her engagement by training the incoming controller 100% virtually.

If you’re curious about how consultants might be able to help your company or your team, reach out and let’s chat!
Contact: Katie Gabriel, senior business development director                                                       
Phone: 612-230-7256