Field Mobility Consulting: Out is the old school generalist

Picture of Tony Horling

Field Mobility Consulting: Out is the old school generalist

The best consultants to help your company will be people who specialize in solutions for your particular industry, not just general business consultants who advise a wide range companies on the basic business process.

The rapid evolution and increasing complexity of technology is driving a parallel transformation of consulting practices. Back in the day, a few big consulting houses could come in and supply you with — say — an ERP system. The consulting firm  would help you choose it from a short, standard  list of ERP systems, and you would be good to go.

Since then, technology has exploded out to every corner of business — however far removed from the office — and the variety of specialized software and hardware to choose from can no longer be mastered by any general consultant. You now need a firm more granular and defined as an expert in your area, to help you to find a solution that has the ability to withstand the evolutional change of technology, and also your industry.

Swiss Army knife (extra-complex model)

Technology is specialized, your consultant should be specialized too.

As an analogy, look at the medical industry. You’ve got general surgeons, and you have heart surgeons. They both can perform a surgery on you. But how come when you go to get heart surgery, you don’t go to the general surgeon? It’s probably because the guy who specializes in fixing hearts for a living gives you a better chance of a good outcome, since there’s a whole lot more to working on the heart than there is to just doing general surgery on your appendix.

By the same token, if you’re transporting nuclear waste, technically it’s a Proof of Delivery — but it’s a different Proof of Delivery than if you’re  transporting cupcakes from the bakery to the corner store.

A marketing consultant can give you ideas on how to broaden your company’s marketability. But would you hire just a general marketing consultant if you were trying to get your business advantage in, say, SEO or Google AdWords? Well, no — if I hire just a marketing company, they may be very good at marketing, and the may be fairly good at SEO and Google optimization, but probably a company that only focuses on SEO is better than a company who does a little bit of everything.

chili peppers: one red, a dozen green

Google can’t interview a potential consultant for you.

You need to make sure you find a company whose consultants deal with the actual pieces you’re trying to put together — and in the specific industries you’re looking for help in.

If you’re looking to improve your warehouse operations, and the consultancy doesn’t talk about warehouses on its website — but only about transportation and logistic solutions, proof of delivery or field service — then consulting you on your warehouse is probably not a specialized part of their process.

First and foremost, you need to understand exactly what space the consultant specializes in. What’s their focus? If their website talks about “mobility for business,” is it cellular? Is it vehicles? GPS? What is it? “Field mobility” is much more defined than “mobility.” “Proof of Delivery” is even more defined, as an area within field mobility.

Look for referenceable accounts in a similar space. If you’re in the food space and they’re sending you governmental contracts for aerospace, does it really fit? If you’re a grain producer, and they’re sending you references for auto part distribution — well, dispensing grain around the country is not the same as transferring floor mats from one parts store to another. You should find some relevancy to what you do.

Try an old school approach: Don’t let Google do all the walking for you. There’s a tool people used to use, which is called a telephone. Pick it up and call these prospective consultants. Have a conversation. Most good consultants will give you free consultation for at least a half hour to an hour, because they don’t want to waste their time either. They want to make sure you fit what they do. If the consultant isn’t interviewing you while you’re interviewing them, there’s a problem.

cartoon: skydiver without parachute

Does your consultant have your best interests at heart?

Everyone who’s trying to sell you something can call themselves a consultant, but a true consultant is not driven by what you ultimately buy. They’re trying to make sure you get the right solution for what you’re trying to do. They offer a selection of options, and are not stuck pushing something from a limited pool.

When you find a consulting team which can speak knowledgeably to the kind of business that you have — and one that guides you toward true solutions, and not just products  — you’ll be able to feel a lot more confident in letting them guide you.

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