When people running warehousing and logistics operations have a specific technical problem, are considering expanding or restructuring, or want to diversify into new areas, the first step they take in most cases is to seek advice from colleagues and contacts.

If these conversations conclude that the ideal solution is to bring in outside help, the second step is generally to call a consultant. But how do you find the right one?

Many people out there offer warehousing and industry operations consultancy services in business and technical areas. Sadly these are often people who have fallen out of favour in a large organisation, not necessarily through their own fault, and are often acting as a single entity.

Talking to a well-known industry figure who prefers anonymity, but knows the consultancy world from both sides of the table, the first question is – can consultants be truly independent in recommending services and products? Should they declare their interests at the first? It seems that the best consultants are truly independent, but there are a few who are in league with particular companies and act as salesmen on their behalf, but don’t let on; we live in hard times.

In an ideal scenario, our insider recommends finding people who don’t regard themselves as consultants but rather as “Expert Practitioners.” Like interim managers, these are people who morph into the client’s business and treat every pound as if they were shareholders.

Trusting consultants can prove costly, if they make a mistake. In the last few years the managerial fall out from the recession has led to the appearance of many more small consultancies who don’t have the proper professional indemnity. Check your chosen consultant has the proper cover.

If they’re honest, many clients out there don’t really know what they are looking for from a consultant. So having a good relationship with your consultant and putting your trust in them is essential. In our insider’s view, this relationship should be a partnership based upon gain/share, not just about a current, one-off project but looking at future challenges.

Warehouse & Logistics News