Why Use a Consultant?

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ACG Code of Practice



While many describe themselves as consultants, this generic term may include a range of activities such as;

  • market research and analysis
  • agency for materials and component sourcing and placement
  • industry, business or process analysis and change - consultancy

At Mike Wattam and Associates we are expert mainly with the last described activity - that of formation and implementation of organisation strategy.

You should consider very carefully before you hire a consultant; indeed in many cases a consultant cannot bring added value to an organisation and reputable consultants will prefer to decline assignments where they believe they cannot add real value.

This contrasts with the view held by some organisations - that consultants only tell them what they already knew, but using big words and in thick report format.  These client  organisations tend to be high profile and have led to consultants having a mixed 'press'.

Consultants have two main modes of operation - firstly advising you what we feel should be done, and secondly making it happen.  Consultants who like to advise you and write reports, but who lack the hands-on expertise to physically make it happen are of limited usefulness - whether you want assistance in making the change itself or not.

In the auto industry there are large and small practices, almost all of them doing a good job for a wide range of clients in the UK and overseas.  The fact is that Britain's consultants are sought across Europe and the world for their unrivalled business expertise.

Why Use Consultants Anyway?

There are five core reasons, of which more than one may be present in any assignment;

  • to provide an objective analysis of the organisation - current and future strategy
  • to lead projects, advise, implement and manage change
  • to provide instant additional manpower - people who can hit the ground running
  • to provide 'interim' management - if you like extended 'managerial care-taking'
  • to assist in corporate recovery and administration

Hiring a Consultant

Consultancy projects can fail because neither client nor consultant understand fully what needs to be done, how, in what time frame or by whom.  It is essential to clearly outline the start and desired end points before calling consultants in, and creating a framework to allow it happen.  

Your consultant should be capable of interpreting your needs into his or her own work plan, and the fully costed proposal generated should be written in plain English wherever possible and largely echo your own objectives.  Having said this, it is not unusual for the diligent consultant to challenge your views and objectives and to then suggest a divergent solution.  This could arise from the enhanced objectivity of a fresh pair of eyes - or alternatively the lack of depth understanding by the consultant,  This is an essential part of the consulting process in which client and consultant find out a lot about each other and should never be overlooked.  In particular beware of the consultant who readily agrees with you and concentrates on negotiating prices!

Are you able to communicate well with the short-listed persons who will be doing the work?  You need to meet these people and ensure that you have mutual understandings.  The expert auto consultancy community is quite small, and it is quite possible that the expert you interview may work under sub-contract to a number of larger consultancy practices so you could see him/her more than once if you are seeking competitive pricing!

Finally, be sure to specify whether the consultant is to participate in the work activity itself - for instance participating in business decision-making or to work in implementing change.

In-assignment Reporting

Throughout the duration of the assignment, routine reporting and interactive debate needs to be specified at appropriate intervals.  But beware of over-kill here, or your expenditure may  only buy expensive A/V equipment and consultants time spent building and delivering exotic PowerPoint presentations - rather than getting on with the job of completing the desired objectives!

ACG Code of Practice

The SMMT Automotive Consultants Group of which Mike Wattam and Associates is an active and enthusiastic member, operates to a clear Code of Practice.  Make sure that the consultancy practice you hire is an accredited member of an internationally highly regarded Professional Organisation such as the SMMT.  Link to SMMT Automotive Consultants Group Code of Practice.

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Last modified: January 10, 2013