Many organizations are concerned about the expense of hiring consultants to help them develop their strategic or business plans. This is understandable, particularly when budget dollars are so closely scrutinized. The prospect of hiring a consultant for anywhere from $10,000 – 25,000 seems daunting and, to savvy managers who are familiar with the planning process this seems like an unnecessary expense.
Increasingly however, planning processes conducted by staff are bogging down, taking months to complete and even derailing at the approval stage with senior management. Staff have invested incredible hours and energy in developing a strategic or business plan only to have senior management say ‘no, this plan isn’t where we think you should be headed.’ Oh….the anguish….the frustration….now what?
The ‘now what’ is usually engaging a consultant to help rework the plan to gain approval. Think I’m kidding? I’m not. More and more we are asked to help with the re-work at the end of a planning process rather than help with the approach at the beginning. The price-tag for this re-work is actually higher than if the consultant had facilitated the process from the beginning. Why? Well, the cost of the consultant may still be in the same dollar range as estimated above, but now there is the additional cost of staff demoralization, senior management questioning and, in many cases, repeat conversations with clients or stakeholders.
It’s no fun for anyone; staff certainly aren’t eager to keep focusing on the plan and the consultant needs to be extremely sensitive to how the repair or rewrite or renewal is handled by everyone. For many organizations who don’t have in-house consultants, it is much more cost-effective to invest up front in a working with a consultant to set up a customized approach and a manageable timeline for the planning process, and perhaps even to coach the planning team at specific junctures.