Consultants are hired to be the bad guys

By | October 21, 2014

Sometimes the consultants are the bad guys: People hire consultants for many reasons, one of which, is to be the bad guys. Look at this article about how Deloitte is helping some of Iowa’s public universities cut costs here.

Deloitte restructuring

Consultants usually stay behind the scenes. This is surprising in the sense that consulting firms like to stay in the background and let their clients take the spotlight, for good and bad. Ideally, the client is making all the presentations internally and externally.  Not in this particular case:

Representatives for Deloitte Consulting presented various scenarios for Iowa’s three public universities to the state Board of Regents on Thursday, including the restructuring of human resources and technology services by eliminating jobs in an effort to save tens of millions in annual operating costs.

Earning money the hard way. These consultants are really earning their fees, right? Damn. That is definitely not staying in the shadows. When you are holding public town halls to talk about cost reduction, you are truly being hired to be the bad guy. 

Be careful. Judging from this article, it looks like there was a mini-uproar because Deloitte was not providing enough detail on their expenses here. This is a slippery slope because, honestly, consultants do spend money when travelling. They work hard (yes, I am in the lobby working on powerpoints right now), but they also eat well and stay in hotels with 20-30% tax.

Deloitte expenses

A few tips, when on a “bad guy” project:

  • Follow the process. Restructuring, organization design, and cost reduction projects have always existed, and they will in the future too
  • Document everything. When companies hire you to fix things, a lot of things can change – including the client-side sponsors, executives, and project leads
  • Use benchmarks to create anonymity; compare them to other standards
  • Work in teams; go to interviews together; present results together
  • Be upstanding; don’t give them any dirt to work with; stay out of the limelight
  • Do the work, and forget about it; be at peace because these are changes that must be made in order for the organization to be successful
  • Don’t drink too much

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2 thoughts on “Consultants are hired to be the bad guys

  1. Lew Sauder

    Some clients like to throw their consultants under the bus. Others hire them to be the bad guys. I think there’s a difference. Clients often want the outsiders to be the bearers of bad news. They’ll go away when it’s all over. The clients who throw us under the bus are the ones that make me drink too much.

    Reply

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