The outside consultant is the solution. This is a professional who is a specialist in a particular field, but has the indispensable advantage of having an outsider's outlook of the situation. Thanks to this he is able to identify the problem, to offer a solution and to inspire change. The consultant is objective and is not under the influence of the company's internal dynamics. He or she can organise effective trainings of the employees, and also perform unpopular measures such as firing people. The good consultant can identify fields where the company has potential for development and to lobby for the best strategy and policy for change.
The investment in quality consulting is worth the money. Thanks to it, the company can optimise its expenses, find new markets, implement more effective processes, optimally use the potential of its employees, and adapt its services to the market's demands.
How to identify the good consultant? Have a thorough check on his or her biography and portfolio, and be sure that the solution you are offered is tailored for your company and the particular problem.
The effective consulting is the customised option, knows Teodora Angelova, ASC (IAPCM), founder of Target HD (phone: +359 885 353 655, target-bg.com), a consultancy company with years of experience in helping businesses in fields like pharmaceuticals, IT, financial services, telecom, automotive, transportation, distribution, call centre, engineering, NGOs. "It's all about the balance between price and value," says Teodora Angelova. "Customising equals focus, reality check and best fit solution. Ready-made, copy-paste and best practice solutions may seem efficient in the short run. They very rarely work in the long run and usually attract additional costs. It's a choice between paying the money for what's best, or pay for what's best for you now," adds she.
Individual solutions often are based on already established systems, whose effectiveness has been tested over the years.
"Our trainings and consulting are based on the Hubbard Management System which is used by more than 200,000 companies worldwide. This system represents a complete organisational know-how, meaning whatever the situation is there are practical and easy to apply tools that can help make it better or more efficient," says Marc J. de Turck, author, trainer and consultant of Belgian origin, and founder of IDEAS Free Boss (www.freeboss.eu). The company was established in 1996, and it delivers training, consulting, coaching, testing and ad hoc help to business managers worldwide. Through the years, IDEAS has trained more than 30,000 managers worldwide. Marc J. de Turck arrived in Bulgaria as team leader of a project called “Modernising the Bulgarian State Administration”, one of the 3 biggest and most strategic projects in Bulgaria. He developed a love to Bulgaria and decided to open a subsidiary in Sofia in 2007. Since then, IDEAS trained in Bulgaria more than 5,000 managers and 200,000 students. "IDEAS is specialised in Free Boss and Blue Ocean training. Free Boss is a programme to help the manager to free himself from daily activities. Blue Ocean is a program helping companies to find new market niches midst heavy competition (red bloody Oceans)," explains Marc J. de Turck.
IT consulting is a field that has growth potential in Bulgaria, believes Timm Rüger, founder of Rüger Consulting (Sofia, 53A N.Y. Vaptsarov Blvd, East Park Trade Center, www.rueger.consulting). The company efficiently uses its small, but highly professional staff to work on data and software engineering or service management projects with international clients. "As opposed to outsourcing companies we focus on value creation by continuous improvement rather than cost savings by cheap labour. In fact, many of our customers are unhappy with their outsourced processes and applications and call on us for advice. This is when our consultants can make a real difference by solving major performance issues and helping the customer to become more agile and value-driven. We are much smaller than the global players like Accenture, but we still outperform them by delivering better results with less effort in less time. And this is mainly because we are not structured hierarchically, but like a network of experts, which puts the consultant at the centre."
Being an IT consultant requires not only excellent knowledge in a particular field, but also communication and leadership skills. "Consulting is demanding, because even though you may know what the best solution is under the given constraints, you still need to communicate it and convince the customer," explains Nikola Gaydarov, Director IT Service and Project Management at Rüger Consulting. "And you are only given what the customer thinks is the problem, but you need to challenge him, in order to ensure this really is the problem," adds Timm Rüger.
"For people who start to work as consultant it is at times confusing that nobody gives you a task or feature list. Rather the customer expects you to come up with different options on which he can decide. But it is not enough to help the customer in selecting the best option, you also need to make sure he sticks to the decision once it is made. This can be complicated, because as a consultant the people you work with are not your employees. They actually pay you, but you need to manoeuvre them in the right direction. When you are an outsider, you have to be influential and earn the customer's respect first. Otherwise the customer staff won't work with you. That is why we are not only looking for technically talented candidates, but for candidates who can communicate and sell their view and who are prepared to stand their ground," says Nikola Gaydarov.
As a pragmatic advice to professionals Timm Rüger recommends considering working as a consultant, "if you think that you need to become a manager in order to progress in your career, but you want to continue working on technical solutions. Because as an IT consultant you have the best of both worlds: management and tech."