Are We Stepping Over Dollars

by Sharlyn Lauby on January 23, 2011

A reader posted a comment on one of my older posts titled Do Something. Anything. You can check out the entire comment here.  I took the comment as (1) human resources needs to step up and bring value (2) doing the actual work is what brings value (3) if consultants provide the bulk of the work, there’s no need for HR .

You will get no arguments from me about human resources needing to provide value.  In fact, let me expand that to say everyone needs to provide value.  But I don’t necessarily agree with the consulting part…maybe that’s because I’m a consultant.  But hear me out.

The other day, one of my Facebook friends had a status update that said he was typing email addresses because he only had them on pieces of paper (not electronic).  This person is a fellow consultant, author, business person, etc.  My first reaction was why is he typing email addresses?  Is that the best use of his time?

It reminds me of the new Kayak commercials.  You know, the ones about spending hours to find the best deal versus having someone (in this case Kayak) help you find the best vacation deal.

Is it possible that people are stepping over dollars to pick up quarters?

Now, back to consulting.  In some cases my clients hire me because they don’t have someone with my experience in-house.  But in many cases, my clients hire me not because they don’t have the expertise but because they don’t have the time.  And their time is valuable.  Recognizing that you need a consultant and hiring one can bring value to a company (especially when you need something done fast).

I’m not going to get into how to go about hiring a consultant. That’s another post.  My point is hiring a consultant is not and should not be considered a failing.  In fact, it’s just the opposite.  You still have to understand the best use of consulting dollars within your budget and then manage the consultant and the project.  And, to do that, you need more than a little skill and knowledge.

I use this same philosophy with my company and personal life.  A few months ago, I got a flat tire.  My immediate reaction – call AAA.  Not because I don’t know how to change a tire.  But because my time is more valuable.  For less than $100 a year, I get free services (along with other benefits).  AAA came to the scene and changed my tire in less than 30 minutes while I responded to client emails on my iPhone.  That brings value to me – and to my clients!

I understand over the past couple years, budgets have been tight.  Maybe the money wasn’t there.  So you buck it up and do it yourself.  That’s cool.  Or maybe it’s like Mr. Bartender and the yard work.  He likes it so he doesn’t want to pay someone to do it.  Somehow, I don’t think that logic applies to typing email addresses.

But as the economy continues to push forward, companies will have to make this decision on a regular basis.  Should I do this task/project in-house or does it make sense to look for an external partner?  Using an external partner doesn’t absolve the department from responsibility or diminish their abilities in any way.  It means they know the best way to provide value to the organization.

Image courtesy of sushi♥ina

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