Expecting More From Consultants

I got a job as a consultant right after graduating from college. I kept that job for almost 10 years. My only regret was that I didn’t quit sooner. Okay, I did learn so much (e.g. time management, interpersonal skills, diplomacy etc) and meet a lot of people (e.g. first rate colleagues and clients) but the anxiety problem I have been saddled with until now is totally not worth it.

Despite graduating with honors, I was so unsure of the quality of my output. I poured hours and extra hours working on projects/engagements because I wanted my work to be impeccable, if not entirely perfect. Perhaps, this was because as a consultant I knew that it was not just my personal reputation at stake but also of the company which I represented. Consequently, I developed anxiety related to stress. This was brought about by years of being on my toes and on trying to be faultless. Since I dealt with numbers that served as basis for big manaement decisions, I knew I could not afford to make mistakes.

Fast forward to today, I had successfully shifted careers. From consultancy, I am now into strategy management. Recently, the company I work for engaged the services of a consulting firm (i.e. a competitor of my previous employer), which is part of a global team of consultants often lauded as one of the best. I was the one who made the justification as to why we should get their services over 2 others. Honestly, this consulting firm’s credentials look really good on paper but … here I am now rethinking if I missed something. Here are my issues:

a) Pathetic Output. I don’t doubt the more senior consultants know what they are doing. After all, they presumably have the knowledge and skills given the certificates, diplomas, experience, commendations, lauds and professional designation as well as approvals they have received — according to their curriculum vitae.

What I am worried about are the junior consultants, who appear to be behind the learning curve.

Case in point. Late last year, I received a document from our consultants for review. I was appalled by the wrong grammar, the inconsistent sentence constructions and the uncoordinated thoughts. It was obvious that the document was a result of a collaboration (pathetic one, if I may so) among the junior consultants. It was a patchwork at best. The numbing implication was that no one checked the output (such a No No in consulting). It was an output to be presented to top management and by my low standards it wouldn’t even pass. So, my team overhauled it to make it more decent.

b) Pathetic Monitoring. I thought that a simple thing could be done with ease but, still, that was major source of disappointment. There were a number of errors in their monitoring report. I fell victim to this when per their report some documents from our employees were still outstanding when in fact the said documents were already submitted. It was embarrassing to follow up people (yeah, I copy furnished their superiors too, ugh!) just to be corrected.

c) Still Pathetic Recording/Reporting.. The other day our consultants sent another updated monitoring report as of February 11 and from this document I did some follow up again. It might sound like I never learned my lesson, right? But in my defense, I am holding on to their promise that the previous snaffu won’t happen again … this commitment I got after I wrote them a rather strongly worded email. It turned out that an employee’s confirmation for a document, which was reported outstanding as of February 11, was not really outstanding at all. The monitoring report made it appear that the employee is inefficient and uncooperative when what happened was that our dear (read: acid sarcasm) consultants submitted to the employee a document for confirmation on February 11 (mind you, at 7:41pm) with a deadline of feedback on the 18th.

This engagement cost so much and I personally expect better handling of the project. I am a little bit unforgiving about this kind of things and always call the consultants’ attention. I will not be surprised if they call me a biatch by now. But I don’t really give a shit (pardon the French). The terms are simple, in my opinion. You deliver as you advertise. Seriously, I WOULD NOT recommend this consulting firm to management for any future projects or to any of my colleagues.

One more thing, I hope I wasn’t as “pathetic” as these junior consultants during my time. Big yuck!


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