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Independent Consultants Become Cost-Effective Alternative for Organizational America

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Independent consultants -- also known as solo practitioners -- have become a cost-effective resource for organizational America as determined by an anecdotal poll conducted by The Society for the Advancement of Consulting (SAC).

The reasons for many firms opting to secure assistance from solo practitioners include:

  1. Low investment requirements, since independent consultants do not possess large infrastructure, staff, and other overhead expenses.
  2. The opportunity for the client to work with the consulting firm principal and not junior partners of larger firms who are brought in after an engagement is consummated.
  3. Rapid responsiveness, since solo practitioners do not work in bureaucratic environments. (One respondent commented, "I answer my own phone, and I expect my consultants to do the same.")
  4. Economical replacement of formerly residual help (e.g., change agents, human resource officers, internal consultants) who have been downsized and eliminated over the past decade. Independent, external consultants do not entail retirement contributions or fringe benefits.
  5. Clearly defined, short-term projects which larger firms either tend to pay little attention to or attempt to enlarge.

SAC CEO Alan Weiss, Ph.D. notes that despite the turmoil in some sectors of the economy, the need for independent consultants is greater than ever, and large amounts of people continue to enter the profession, including many from larger firms who prefer to strike out on their own. Weiss, author of Million Dollar Consulting and The Ultimate Consultant, stresses that even the largest of the Fortune 500 firms frequently seek out the services of solo practitioners for the reasons cited above, and that this trend is increasing. In association with Kennedy Information of Peterborough, NH, Weiss estimates that there are at least 150,000 independent consultants in the U.S. who are supporting themselves exclusively through consulting.

The anecdotal poll was conducted by SAC over the past 30 days, comprising a series of email and phone contacts with purchasers of consulting services across the United States. The five reasons above were those most cited by respondents, who were chosen for having P&L (profit and loss) responsibilities for their companies, divisions, or departments.

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