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Tell Me the Time, Using My Clock: Using Management Consulting

Services Effectively

By: Prof. Samuel Lartey


sammylaatey@yahoo.com

It is often said that Management consulting is the practice telling me the time, using my
clock. Others say is the practice of helping organizations to improve their performance,
operating primarily through the analysis of existing organizational problems and the
development of plans for improvement. Organizations may draw upon the services of
management consultants for a number of reasons, including gaining external advice and
access to the consultants' specialized expertise.

There is little doubt that calling on the service of a management consultant can often prove to
be a valuable investment provided that you allow enough time for the whole exercise, the
problem area has been carefully defined, you know what you want the consultant to do, having
identified all the necessary steps for the task in hand and care is exercised in selecting the right
consultant. This practice will allow you to measure progress towards a solution.
As a result of their exposure to, and relationships with numerous organizations, consulting
firms and consultants are typically aware of industry best and next practices, although the
specific nature of situations under consideration may limit the transferability of such practices
from one organization to another.
Management consulting may be sloppily described as an advisory service contracted for and
provided to organizations by specially trained and qualified persons who assist, in an objective
and independent manner, the client organization to identify management problems, analyze
such problems, recommend solutions to these problems, and help, when requested, in the
implementation of solutions.
Management consulting introduces a number of benefits to the organization. Since
consultants are immersed in their specialism, they are well-placed to advise on the state of the
art. It may be impossible for an organization to tap such expertise in any other way. It may be
more cost-effective for a company to buy in skills as and when they are needed. Additionally,
help can be required for an overstretched management team or to pursue a project that would
otherwise not be completed. An outsider can see things which are unclear to those on the
inside or say things which members of staff may fear to articulate. Equally, employees may be
more willing to agree to a course of action if they know that impartial advice has been taken.
On the other hand however, management consulting may be expensive. The end result may be
unsatisfactory. The work may be left to junior consultancy staff once the assignment starts or
personnel may change during the project. There may be resentment from staff at the
employment of consultants.

To make it work better, the organization need to gain the approval of senior management for
the decision to use consultants and keep them informed during the selection process. This will
help ensure that your choice of consultant will be accepted at the top level.
Some offer a wide range of services, whilst there are others which specialize in particular
industries, certain areas of business activity or smaller or larger organizations. All relevant staff
concerned must be fully briefed on why a consultant has been appointed, when he or she will
arrive, and the cooperation that is required. Appoint someone as the main contact with the
consultant.

Measure actual progress against the agreed objectives of the assignment. Ensure that your
requirements are not being shrouded by consultant preferences. Make sure the consultant
summarizes the findings and conclusions of the project either in a report or in a presentation.
Ensure there are no misunderstandings or errors.

Check that the new development and procedures proposed are being implemented and
properly applied, and that they are not being undermined by old methods and concepts.
Discuss with staff concerned any particular difficulties which arise during implementation.
Regularly examine the results being achieved and insist on follow-up visits from the consultant