With the budget pressures on today’s communications departments, the daily challenge for many communications leaders is how to create the greatest value in return for their organization’s budget dollar. If you have room in your communications budget for support from an outside consultancy, consider yourself lucky—and also consider how you can work with your consulting partner in a way that delivers an ROI (return on investment) that keeps the budget gods in your company satisfied.
Here are three ways you can make the most of those precious budget dollars when partnering with a communications consultant or consulting firm:
- Make the right match. Choosing the right consulting partner out of the gate is crucial to reaping the most value from your engagement. Does your company need creative ideas, or just extra pairs of arms and legs to get things done? Do you need a partner who can deliver quick-turn deliverables, or one who can progress long-term projects at a slower pace? Does the person or team click with your personality, or that of your team? Consider your needs carefully and evaluate several firms to choose the right partner who best fits your needs and style.
Selecting a partner with a proven track record is a must; don’t be shy about asking for references and case studies to ensure that the firm can deliver high value for your budget dollar. Also look for a provider with a broad range of services. That way, you’ll have a single source for many different types of project—from PowerPoint to portal projects and everything in between—without the costly learning curve of bringing a new firm up to speed every time.
- Outsource the right services and projects. You can’t outsource everything—nor would you want to. Be strategic about which services and projects you hand over to your consultant. Choosing wisely can boost the value of your department, not to mention the organization’s perception of the value you deliver personally. Consider outsourcing the following:
- Capabilities you don’t have in house, like graphic design, video or multimedia production, so you can deliver cool and powerful communications vehicles you couldn’t create on your own.
- Projects that need doing, but aren’t core to the value you and your department bring to the company. Bogged down reformatting PowerPoint slides day after day? Don’t want to be known as the company meeting planners? Consider whether there are non-strategic tasks like these that you could outsource while you and your team focus on high-value and high-visibility projects.
- Things you flat-out don’t enjoy doing. The fact is, no one likes every aspect of their job—and we’re all better at the things we enjoy. Hate to proofread? Love writing portal stories but can’t stand drafting video scripts? Chances are, your consulting partner would approach these tasks with a fresh set of eyes and take them on with gusto, allowing you to allocate your time to tasks you enjoy and excel at.
- Build the right relationship: To gain value from a consulting engagement, you’ll have to invest time as well as money. Establish and maintain an open line of communication with your firm. Assuming your partner is under nondisclosure, share as much as you see fit about your organization, its priorities and its culture. Getting to know your organization will position your consulting partner to add value by making connections and offering recommendations that are in tune with your environment and business needs.
Keep these guidelines in mind, and you just might find that a consulting partnership is a whole new way to add value to your career and your business.
Author: Kate Tomasco.