By Joe Trdinich
On the one hand, there are similarities.
The most critical aspects of both the successful outsourcing manager and the successful consultant are to listen and to observe. Both must fight the urge to offer solutions before fully understanding the problem. As you get into the fact-gathering stage of the project, consultants must listen effectively to glean all of the data and all sources of the problem.
However, conflicting roles and needs are the biggest differences between acting in the consultancy role versus the outsourcing vendor. No matter how much the outsourcing vendor says and acts as if they are in the role of making decisions for the betterment of the client, the true role of the outsourcing vendor is to improve the financial performance and status of that vendor.
There is no such conflict with the unbiased consultant. By conducting yourself with the highest ethical behavior, the consultant must always ask what contribution is being delivered to the client’s business. By keeping this at the forefront of the consultant’s decision making, the consultant builds long term credibility with the client and adds to the overall reputation of the consultancy.
Clients hire an outsourcing vendor to provide a service or services that they don’t believe they are equipped to handle themselves. If the quality diminishes or the value is eroded, the firm may then use a consultant to determine how best to proceed. At this point the client is asking for much needed objectivity, knowledge, and innovation, with all of those attributes focused on the firm. Once again, your conduct as a consultant must be laser-focused on your client, with all of your knowledge and energy directed at resolving the problem they hired you to fix.
The largest difference in the roles of outsourcing manager and consultant is the end result. As an unbiased consultant, all of the energy, knowledge and creativity is delivered on behalf of the client. There is no conflict, no “serving of two masters”. Total objectivity in your analysis and recommendation is directed at solving the clients’ issue. A small difference in the two, but one that is critical in the minds of the client. They expect you to have the knowledge and skills to solve their problem and they expect all your decisions to assist in the solution. For the person who appreciates customer service, the consultant role can be, and is, a rewarding position on both sides.