The requisite motivation for a business owner to hire advisory or subject matter expertise – commonly known as outsourcing – is typically a growing awareness by the owner(s) of a problem that must be urgently resolved, one that can no longer be relegated to “it will get better soon.” That assessment is usually coupled with the determination that the company’s resources of expertise, experience or time inside the management team are found to be wanting or need to be augmented. The “problem” may be predominately internal to business processes, practices, products or its people, or it may be significantly external in nature, driven by market changes or possibly new competition.
Regardless of the problem’s origin or nature, in some instances the necessary motivation to hire outside “consultants” is hard to find. We surmise the motivational challenge – significantly more prevalent in smaller businesses – is frequently centered in a past experience or two where the desired outcome or deliverable from the consultant fell somewhat short of the defined scope of work and the value promised. It’s more than being lean. A project initiative that failed to meet its expectations can happen, but why and how can outsourcing be more effective, more valuable to the company?
Let’s consider how the project’s Scope of Work (SOW) is determined.
In our experience, far too many projects (internal or outsourced) are initiated and move toward implementation without sufficient discovery, without fully defining the problem to be resolved, the opportunity to be pursued, the resources that can be assigned to the challenge, or how to measure if specific goals and objectives are achieved. In too many instances project discovery, basic research and pre-planning efforts are minimal. It is little wonder that these projects fall short of expectations and value promised.
As we initiate a client project we believe in “not guessing.” As such, we ask an insane amount of questions, striving to fully understand the business model and the performance-robbing gap to be addressed. Only then can an appropriate Scope of Work be considered.
In some instances the severity of the problem and project scope is diminished or even assigned to a lower priority. In other instances the project is significantly refined so that the eventual outcome can be more successful. Once they experience it, clients consistently like the inherit value with this approach.
Emphasize discovery and awareness first, then commit to the project. Success will follow.