Significant “Tells” that You Need an IT Consultant
Consultants serve a variety of different roles: guiding strategic thinking, to being able to lend insight, wisdom and offer an extra pair of hands to overwhelmed organizations. For many organizations, though, they don’t understand how to engage with a firm or when a consultant can bring the resources needed to help make their organization operate in the most efficient manner available.
Even though a leader may be confused or anxious about their operations and how a consultant can help them meet their goals, there are several signs that every organization should be aware of to determine if a consultant is needed. Here are a few signs:
An unbiased third party is needed to provide perspective for a project. When an organization needs an outside, unbiased perspective on the performance of a team or department or project, a consultant can invest the time and intellectual capital into the project as needed and can help remove stress and overwhelming impacts that may not be overcome from inside an organization. For example, consultants are able free organizations from the internal politics that may be present, including personnel issues, leadership pressures, past procedures and performance and impact of previous decisions related to current projects, as well as can alleviate “this is how we always done it” syndrome. A consultant, especially one specializing in healthcare and serving health systems and practices, has the ability to look at circumstances and situations objectively and without bias while navigating the complex healthcare landscape.
Consultants also, obviously, are able to provide specific expertise that doesn’t reside in house. You know when a skill does not reside in house. Jobs go undone or are not done to standard; skills are unmet; and proficiencies are lacking. Expansion and even certain business protocols are unattended. Consultants are specialists. Be it in the area of ICD-10, meaningful use or other regulatory issues, healthcare consultants are trained specifically to address these topics and alleviate these concerns. Specialty needs are particularly relevant for small practices and health systems. In instances such as these, as when dealing with other detailed healthcare issues, there’s often little sense in bringing in a long-term in-house solution. Cost savings over the long term can be achieved through the use of a consultant. Of course, that is, if you know you need one.
You are unable to bring teams and staff together. Having trouble bringing staffs and teams together? Organizations often don’t understand how they can effectively create solid, effective and efficient teams nor how they can get back to business. Consultants are able to facilitate a multitude of diverging views, opinions and initiatives. Consultants provide insight a strategy, a plan and provide insight for practices and health systems so they are much more easily able to process and synthesize their insights into a workable plan for an organization to implement and follow. They can cross organizational boundaries or work between staff and leadership to build bridges and bring results, even if it’s something as simple as managing the entire IT implementation process.
Not understanding best practices or knowing how to implement them. Consultants are able to bring cross functional experiences to their clients. Often times, practices and health systems are unable to focus specialties beyond their specific areas of expertise. When you’re unable bring focus or expertise beyond specific areas, an IT or process improvement consultant has the privilege of experience by serving multiple clients in the same sector that face similar problems across a variety of departments and workflows. This, of course, allows them the ability to recognize common attributes of effective solutions and apply lessons learned for a variety of situations.
When you need to deliver a message that can’t come from the inside. Many times, consultants hear that an outsider’s opinion is more valuable than those expressed by staff. Sometimes messages to internal teams and departments are better received, or taken more seriously, when they come from an outsider. Consultants are able to deliver these messages effectively. A consultant’s perspective can provide insight and guidance for what’s necessary to convince leadership to move forward an issue that’s difficult to address, like expense reduction or income diversification.
Clearly, there are other signs that practices and health systems need a consultant, but these are the major tells. Common sense, really, but for many that are facing implementations, upgrades and process overhauls, there can confusion and fear, especially for department leaders who are overwhelmed and charged with completing a task on time and on budget. Knowing you’re not alone or that there is help available can be comforting, if nothing else.