Hiring a consultant shouldn't be difficult nor should it be expensive

Back in 2014 the National Farmers Federation (NFF) embarked on a program to take the Australian farm lobby into a new era of vibrancy. They hired a consulting firm who allocated a team of junior’s and one senior consultant to the project. I believe the program cost the NFF over $850K. It achieved absolutely nothing and was shelved. The NFF leadership canned the project and then sought additional consulting firms to ‘pitch’ for another round of work. In summary, the strategy from the outset was flawed and the execution was a mess. NFF members literally lost $850K.

Like any project there is a clear difference between ‘specification’ and ‘scope’. A bit like the difference between ‘tactics’ and ‘strategy’. The NFF process failed because the NFF ‘listened’ but they didn’t want to ‘hear’. The NFF was as arrogant as it was confused, so failed to scope the project correctly at the start. The consulting firm should have known better - in fact they should of walked away - but chose to move forward because lets be honest, it’s all about the fee and we can always blame the client.

We use this example to show that consulting shouldn’t be complicated and only becomes expensive when: a. The program of work is not scoped well, and; b. The program is executed poorly and so fails to adapt to external pressures and necessary change. No program should ever fail - the consultant should walk away before it does.

At SMEA we are a firm believer that in most instances the client has the answers. It’s our job to be honest from the start - sometimes brutal - but ultimately it’s this trust that delivers success. We unpack the confusion, throw in some new concepts and strategies and that there is ‘success’. It’s not expensive and the program should never fail.

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