Using Consultants: What’s the ROI?

Choosing to engage someone outside of your organization for proposal support is a decision that can significantly change the success of your business. Some may argue that hiring consultants is too costly or not effective for sustainable business, but there are many instances where consultants can help increase your probability of winning (Pwin).

Unique Benefits of Consultants

There are multiple benefits to hiring consultants to augment your team. On a short-term need, consultants can help when there is a surge in bid requests and you need more people to help meet demands. Instead of risking overload and burnout of your team, consultants can provide needed support while your resources focus on what they do best.

Augmenting your internal team provides another unique benefit. Many consultants bring a breadth of insight and best practice techniques that arms them with experience on what business practices and tools work most successfully. This breadth of experience from a variety of industries provides a valuable perspective to consider new, more efficient ways to bid and win.

Flexibility is also a major benefit of drawing upon external resources during surge or peak times of proposal development. Often the need to prepare a proposal is unexpected—your team has no bandwidth. External consultants provide this flexibility and allow you to expand and contract the proposal teams, as needed, without carrying a full-time salary burden.

Common Concerns

Obviously, cost is a perceived drawback when companies consider outsourcing or staff augmentation. And, yes, it does cost to hire consultants, but outsourcing is a trade off between cost and capability. If you are preparing to bid for a “must-win” opportunity, it may be worth the cost to bring in knowledgeable consultants who can help you win. The hidden cost of using internal resources on proposals and taking them away from their primary role is often ignored—there is significant cost and risk of force-fitting non-professionals into a proposal manager or writer role.

Another perceived drawback of hiring a consultant is the unknown. Will this person connect with the company’s established team? Do they know how to use the company’s capture or proposal tools? What type of interpersonal skills do they bring? Most of these questions will remain unknown until the consultant is actually onsite, working alongside your team. Do your homework by interviewing (often by phone) any consultants you are considering for a key role.

The Shipley Difference

Shipley Associates reduces your risk by combatting these common concerns and providing the best consultant candidates. New consultants receive careful vetting of references, skills, and available software during the screening and hiring process. After being hired, Shipley consultants take Shipley training courses and often become certified by the Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP).

Shipley also provides leadership guidance to ensure consultants are meeting company standards and expectations while supporting a client opportunity. We maintain weekly and sometimes daily contact with our consultants to track the progress and review engagement quality during and after each engagement.

Clients are provided a weekly status report to stay aware of key accomplishments for the week and milestones approaching. This allows us to make any course corrections, if needed, to reduce risk and ensure performance quality.

Considering Consultants

Consultants can be used to help an established proposal team, provide turnkey, end-to-end proposal support, or provide coaching and reviews at key milestones to help clients win. This unique nature of consulting from Shipley allows clients to bring specialized expertise when needed while maintaining cost and quality controls.

Shipley prepares and vets consultants to support client companies in every aspect of the business lifecycle. For more information on Shipley Associates’ proposal support and consulting services, please visit our Proposal Support website page.