Here's something well worth reading, especially as it is so well put and dispels a lot of the myths/concerns about appointing an external source of expertise.
It's written from a generalist perspective on any consultant, but I think it's particularly relevant to logistics, particularly as regards market knowledge / objective viewpoint / getting the job done.
If you're looking to improve your supply chain, you may have considered using the services of a logistics consultant. You might be worried, though, about whether it will be worth the cost or bring any real benefits to your business. Here are some reasons to seriously consider using a consultant.
Working with a logistics consultant who has a broad knowledge base and experience working through similar issues to those you are experiencing brings a number of advantages to your team.
You'll probably have received loads of literature from sales people, for example, telling how great their products are, but how can you possibly choose between them? An independent logistics consultant is not selling products and does not get any financial incentives from the products they specify, therefore they can give objective advice.
A project run internally can often get sidetracked by everyday management issues. Bringing in a consultant who can focus on delivering results will ensure that the goals are achieved quicker.
Consultancy does not need to take project ownership away from the management. However, as long as management is clear about its objectives and is able to select, direct and manage the consultants carefully, real added value can be seen.
When Should I Use a Consultant?
All organisations at some time reach a point when they are aware that they could be doing things better or differently. It may be one or several areas of the operations that are not achieving their goal or not functioning as efficiently as they might.
The main reasons for using consultants usually focus around:
The issue or problem may be short-term. To manage the change effectively and maximise the benefits will require an intense effort, potentially jeopardising the performance of the rest of the operation. Permanently increasing the headcount to handle a short-term project will increase operating expenses. A consultant can assist in managing the change until the introduction is complete and the operation has stabilized.
Often specialist knowledge exists within the company but a secondment cannot be arranged in the required timeframe. Consultants are ideally suited to providing the skills that are not available from permanent staff.
Decisions which result in a large change or financial commitment from the company will frequently involve consultants to review any analysis before a decision is made. An outsider can ensure that an objective approach and attitude are taken and that all potential alternatives are known and explored. Often the consultant will know of additional alternatives which were not even considered previously. At other times just having the consultant confirm competent and thorough analysis can add additional weight to the business case.
If a project has lost momentum or is not delivering the expected results a consultant can quickly provide the input required to get it back on track.
Working With a Logistics Consultant
The use of consultants is unlikely to bring benefits if you dismiss the consultants' involvement as an expensive distraction from everyday operations. However, if you chose the right consultant or consultancy, clearly define the project objectives, provide the consultants with the information they require and set aside time to review progress and buy into their ideas, the benefits will be seen.