In the current pandemic environment, the dynamic nature of environmental, health, safety and sustainably challenges across most industries is almost impossible to keep pace with. Having an on-demand resource pool that specializes in specific areas, like industrial hygiene or ergonomics, or having a team that knows your operations and can provide relief when things get overwhelming can be the difference between closing your business to keeping things running smoothly. EHS consultants can easily be both of those types of resources for a company. They are on-demand, yet part of your team. They can hold things together until you get headcount or be a cost-effective option to solving specific problems. In this blog we will give you some ideas of how consultants can bring the most value to your in-house EHS team, and help keep your employees and business on the right EHS path.
1. Rapid ramp up of in-house technical capabilities
The first situation when hiring an EHS consultant makes sense is when a rapid ramp-up of in-house technical capabilities is needed. This usually happens during times of change - mergers and acquisitions, special projects, and adjustments to a project’s timeline are a few common examples. Hiring any employee comes with risks and challenges and building out a new team that can function well together takes a long time. Engaging with consultants allows you to rapidly ramp-up your in-house capabilities with trusted, proven professionals so you can focus on the problem at hand and keep running your business. Consultants can also provide a valuable outside perspective to your organization that you may not see internally.
2. Short-Term Specialist Experience
Consultants are useful when you need specialist experience for a relatively short-term period. In these circumstances, it may be difficult to justify hiring a full-time employee if their core responsibilities will end in less than a year or two. Many businesses make the mistake of hiring a generalist who can “do the job well enough”, only to struggle with poor quality work or products that must be corrected. A consultant may be more expensive than a full-time employee, but they can come in, finish the work, and leave once you are satisfied. Consultants can also add value by training your team to complete similar work in the future.
3. Physical Presence on-site
Another situation when it makes sense to hire a consultant is in circumstances when a physical presence is required on site, especially for businesses with global or remote operations. Travel to remote sites takes significant time and financial resources, and a local consultant can act as your “eyes and ears” on the ground. In many cases, the additional fees charged by the consultant are well offset by the savings to the company from the lack of travel expenses, and the ability of a local consultant to appear at short notice allows them to deliver higher-quality service to the end client. Local consultants can also travel when international travel is restricted, as was the case during the COVID-19 pandemic.
4. Flexible Resourcing for unclear scope
Circumstances where the scope of a project is initially unclear are also excellent opportunities for consultants to shine. An experienced consultant can scope out a project more accurately and help develop a resourcing plan that you can trust. They can take a nebulous business idea and turn it into a detailed action plan faster than the company could themselves. Many consultants have extensive industry experience, and they can help you align your company towards industry standards or new team and project structures. Furthermore, if the scope of future work changes as the project develops, a consulting firm can easily supplement or reduce staffing as needed.
5. Local Knowledge
Finally, another situation when hiring an EHS consultant is a good idea is when local knowledge is critically important for the business task at hand. A great example is during international due diligence, a topic which we previously wrote about here. A local perspective is important when doing business internationally because local partners are influenced by their local environment. The local history, culture, society, regulatory practices, and mindset impact every single aspect of business, and only a specialist with years of experience in that environment can effectively offer those insights.
In summary, as consultants, we believe we can add value in many situations. During times of change, you may need to rapidly ramp-up in-house technical capabilities and cannot afford to spend the time and money to build an effective in-house team. For short-term projects, a consultant can quickly bring relevant skills into your company and complete the work efficiently, avoiding an awkward situation where a full-time employee’s job must change to avoid redundancy. In situations when a physical presence on-site is necessary, a local consultant can save money on travel costs and provide better service to your local team. If the scope of work is unclear, a consultant can act as a flexible resource and can scope up or scope down their engagement as needed. Finally, in circumstances where intimate local knowledge is needed, a local consultant can provide insights into the regulatory environment, culture, and history of a location, helping you make better business decisions.
Inogen Alliance is a global network made up of nearly 80 local businesses and over 5,000 consultants around the world who can help make your project a success. Our Associates collaborate closely to serve multinational corporations, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations, and we share knowledge and industry experience to provide the highest-quality EHS consulting services to our clients. If you want to learn more, you can explore our individual Associates or Contact Us. Watch for more News & Blog updates here and follow us on LinkedIn.