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The Frontline: Why I Need A Consultant: The Client's Point of View

11 Oct, 2011 By: Rob Gilbert imageSource

So says the client:

What real benefits are there when having a document solutions consultant meet with me? I mean, I think things are moving along “alright” in my company. Let’s face it, we all know the economy is weak, our usual cash flow isn’t what it has been in years past, and now our customers seem to be taking longer and longer to pay. How can an industry consultant cure  any of that?

It seems like every time I have a conversation with a “consultant” all I end up hearing about is how I can save money on my copier lease. What about the rest of
my company?

I hate talking about copiers, leases, service agreements, supplies, paper jams, and workflow bottlenecks. That’s why I hired an office manager. Products like copiers have so many bells and whistles on them anymore that I can’t keep up with all the technology per manufacturer. All I know is that I want my office manager to come to me with what they think we need…so we can keep the departments and admin staff rolling along and they don’t bleed me dry with lost productivity. (Naturally, my office manager seems to focus on the lowest price they can get, while I haven’t seen any kind of information on real features and benefits that would help us internally).

In fact, we seem to write a whole bunch of checks to office supply houses for printers and supplies, maintenance stuff like that. Purchasing must really be busy checking, then double checking, shopping, comparing, and verifying all those prices so that we are getting the best price we can. Right? What could a consultant do about that? Do they sit around and dial for dollars like my people do?

I oversee the big picture and don’t really check each manager’s decision to see if they are leveraging our position as a company to get good deals, but I would “hope” they are. That’s what I am paying them for; their expertise and proactive decision making. Right? But do I know for sure? That is another matter. I know sometimes all those logistics get jumbled up and most companies have to deal with these type issues. But how common it is, I don’t know.

Thank goodness I have an awesome IT department that keeps everything on track from a network traffic flow perspective. They seem to deal with a lot of different stuff. As a matter of fact, they buy some supplies and printers too……hmmm.

More than talk:

Many “consultants” I talk to don’t have a clue about networks, streamlining workflow, security issues, integration, and the like. They “talk” about “solutions” but when I press for more specifics I get generalized answers. If I ever found someone who understood all this entails, I might actually feel like engaging an industry consultant to streamline my business overall.

I know though that IT can get bogged down running interference with purchasing, department managers, and even the office manager if there is some disconnect on what device does what, and in which office. I’m scared to ask them how they are getting all their initiatives done really, because I don’t understand the technical answers anyway. When you take your car into a mechanic you assume their knowledge is more sufficient than yours in this area; thus is this with IT technicians. (Their budget checks do seem to get larger and larger though; I wonder what a consultant would say about this area?)

I wish somebody would help me with some kind of back file conversion as well. All of these so called consultants come in here and talk about copiers that can scan and print, and all I do is add file cabinets and storage areas to hold them. That stuff costs money! Digital document management is preferred, but legal contracts and important paperwork with signatures often require back up hard copies, at least for our company. Yes, I’m aware of electronic storage and disaster recovery, but don’t know much about that, so for now, I’ll keep some printed hard copies. (Of course when we actually need to find one of those folders, I lose an admin person for hours or days).

Okay. If someone could explain to me how we could just scan all of our company’s files and have a way to efficiently – and affordably - search them, I might consider this program. I realize a lot of people touch a lot of the same documents around here, so yes, if someone could show me how they could improve my workflow and how my staff can process documents more easily, I would consider this.

I do admit that at times, my company may be a bit more wasteful than it should be. However, I have no idea how to throw a net around that problem. A lot of my competitors are striving to “Go Green” and
help the environment. There has to be some practical ways of doing that, but I have never had any “consultant” contact me to tell me how to do that profitably.

Of course I hate the idea of losing traction to my competition, especially on such a hot topic like “Green.” Overall, when I think on it, even though we are breaking even or making a small profit here, albeit feeling almost “flat,” there are probably still ways to improve our bottom line – to better enhance our operation. If only I had someone reach out to me with some sort of clear, concise process for analyzing my environment (my WHOLE environment) and figure out how to help me optimize my current processes, make our operation more streamlined, and watch over it to ensure we are doing just the right things…while looking for more improvements…I think we could be an unstoppable force in our market space.

In Conclusion

If there is a “Capable Consultant” and/or management team out there who has the needed experience, skills and portfolio to work with me to help my company, my shareholders, my employees, and most importantly, my customers, to help enhance my business or “fix” my problems, please contact me immediately. I’m the guy in the corner office on the top floor who’ll gladly take your call! 

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