Sometimes people can be wary of hiring a business process consultant, because they think that they look inept and unable to take charge of their company, its critical processes, and their operations. Candidly, that is really the wrong view to take, because it can’t be further from the truth. There are many very successful people in business, who know the ins and outs and are very savvy, but who still choose to use experienced business process consultants. The thing about these consultants is that they can take a look at your business with an unbiased eye. With the help of modern technology and process intelligence they have the ability to eliminate biases and subjective opinions and expose the “as-is” inner workings of your organization.
Think about them like an editor of a newspaper. When people write articles for the newspaper, often they can’t see the mistakes that they have made. The editor takes the article and fine tunes it to look and read the very best that it can. Just because you have employed a process consultant doesn’t mean that you do not have the skills to run your business or your department. Consultants will look at your business with a critical eye and help you fine tune it. They help you to see what can be improved with your business, and what needs to be changed. It is not always easy to hear, but the advice may help to advance your company.
Hiring a process consultant helps people see that you care about your organization enough to ask another person, someone who is more experienced and knowledgeable, how it can run more smoothly. It may not always be easy to ask for help, but it can be the best thing that you will do for yourself and your company to innovate and evolve as a process leader. So whether you’re thinking about LEAN, Six Sigma, process excellence, automation, or some other type of digital transformation initiative, process consultants are great allies to have.
One of the first questions you should ask a business consultant before you hire them is what type of business experience they had before they became a business consultant and how do they plan to bring their past experiences and know how into their working with you. You want to be sure that they know exactly what is involved with business and specifically operations like yours before you hire them. It will make you feel more comfortable that they are able to help you with your specific issue or initiative. You want to be certain that the person is sensible when it comes to the bottom line, they know the current trends, are informed on popular approaches and technologies, and that they are going to be able to help you achieve the types of results that you are looking for.
Ideally, the consultant has experience in the same type of process or area in which you are looking to improve on. That way the chances are good that they know about the need for end-to-end visibility, quick results and easy wins, know how to deal with cost control, and have experience with the questions that are likely to arise. If you hire someone that has already worked with clients’ cases similar to what you are dealing with, you will know they have the knowledge and the past experiences to make you successful. Not to mention, they may bring solutions that can offer plug and play methods to solving your problems.
Even though most people who are interviewing business consultants may not think about this, it is something that should be a part of your interview. The answer to this all important question will help you to know if the person is the type of consultant that you are looking for. Ask about “their toolbox”: what are they bringing to the relationship that will add value to you as a customer. Do they offer advanced process analytics technology? Do they come experienced in technologies beyond simple dashboards and BI type analytics?
Something that may not be an obvious thing to ask about when you are hiring a business consultant but should be taken into consideration is what type of documentation you will have once the consultation is over. What will they leave behind? Is there going to be a way to track and monitor success? Will you have a before and after side-by-side comparison or operational execution? What about preventing back-sliding to the conditions that existed before the consult; how will this be prevented?
Why do you want to have copies of the paperwork? There are several good reasons.
First of all, the documentation and the software solutions that can monitor and prevent issues from occurring again can be an invaluable companion for you to use after the contract with your consultant is over. The documentation often contains hidden treasures that, while they may not seem obvious at first, will prove to be useful in the future and the ability to monitor process changes and execution post-consultation is an incredible service that will help you to maintain sustainable process excellence.
Secondly, the documentation of findings as well as the software systems will include what it is that was analyzed about your company and what was done to improve your company. This is essential so that you can keep it and refer back to it, especially if not all the changes were made by the consultant.
Last, it shows you in writing what the consultant did for you while they were working for you. If there is ever a problem with your consultant, or if there is a dispute, this will give you documentation about what was or wasn’t done and provide fine details into your operations: i.e. how they were changed and what affect those changes had.
It’s good to have evidence of what was done by a consultant, both for the present and for the future. It is a good way to know what changes have been made by a consultant and it is a good reference tool. The documentation is a part of the road map to success that you are on with regards to your business. If they can provide a software solution that can solve some of your headaches even better.
Planning, mapping, and maintaining quality process improvements are crucial to the success of businesses today. Organizations have been focusing on reshaping processes for many years now. The ones who succeed find great reward through better efficiency in employees in their functional areas and in workflows. Process management and continuous process improvement allows organizations to continue to find improvement areas and develop more efficient employee workflows and process improvements. Partnering with process focused consultants can help organizations solve their process problems and get great ROI in improving inefficiencies within their organizations. I regularly work with partners who are consultants and they provide tremendous value in terms of knowledge, experience and ability to perform with the right tools.
If your consultant shows up with a clip board and stop watch, throw them to the curb and call someone in who is using modern technology to elevate their practice. Old methods just don’t cut it anymore… I work with numerous consultants who use cutting edge process intelligence technology and who can give you a competitive edge. With our help they can provide Automatic Process Discovery — a truly automated process mining and process mapping capability — providing each and every individual process instance, highlighting a common process schema & finally clearly articulating every executed flow. Point and Click Process Query (and more)– In depth Process Intelligence, Route Cause Analysis, Protocol Analysis, Workflow Analysis — and more…. Asking complex questions to find process inefficiency and compliance risks. Real Time Process Monitoring — Extremely Important — Ongoing Process Analysis, Historic Cohort Comparison & Automated Alerting — meaning that a company can stay on top of processes efficiency gains, avoiding backsliding. Process Prediction and Prescriptive Analysis — close the loop in process automation. Forecast/predict and automate. Trigger Bots to fix problems before they occur. Implement closed loop integration, monitoring your operational platforms, notifying it when a special condition occurs, then verify the problem is solved.
About the author
Ryan Raiker is an accomplished business consultant with experience working with small and medium enterprises. Ryan has worked in project management in State, and Local government. He studied Business Analytics and later earned his MBA from Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania. Currently Ryan is focusing on Brand Management and Product Development for TimelinePI.