The old adage that one should hire people that are smarter than you is very true and good advice. Although in reality it may not always be practical or necessary to hire a new full time member of staff. This maybe the case for a variety of reasons from unavailability to it being a short term project. For clarity, I define a consultant as some one who will apply their practical and commercial experience and knowledge to add value to your project in a hands on way as opposed to the more traditional view of someone purely offering advice.
The current pace of change in the pay TV, broadcast, OTT industry is really fast and probably speeding up. Let's consider that you are planning a to develop a new product or service or project in the next 12 months as many are - some questions to ask internally could include -
Looking at each point in turn will allow us to carefully analyse what the right approach may be in each situation. For example, if we are to develop a new product, it may be that we don’t have a someone with a background in product development for this new area to lead this or indeed if we do do they have the capacity to take on another product as they may already be fully engaged (hopefully) elsewhere. Therefore it may make sense to hire a consultant to lead this initial phase and once launched perhaps the product can move into an ongoing management phase as part of you permanent team’s portfolio. You may even use them to train a junior team member.
If the new product we are looking to develop is using technology or services that require other parties to help us build then do the existing team have the right contacts and relationships? Of course they can develop them and over time they will but what delay can this cause to the development cycle as these new relationships are built? It take time to acquire the necessary knowledge and a consultant with the right background and skills can help to accelerate this. They may work with the current product manager to help bring those new partners and relationships to the table enabling the product manager to focus on the product rather then investigating, evaluating and building relationships from the ground up.
Like the picture above, each phase of any project often requires different skills and can take different amounts of time. Sometimes you don't have all the pieces or you do but not the picture so bringing someone in can really help move things on. Hiring a consultant can usually be done more quickly than hiring a permanent member of staff. The risk is lower and it can be a fixed term or fixed outcome engagement and so it is easier to change tack if things don’t work out.
You may also need contractors to do other specific tasks and whilst they may bring some of the necessary skills they too will be head down in the tasks they are hired for and not able to step back and provide the necessary strategy and leadership a consultant will offer.
And for vendors, when confronted with a consultant in the process, think about how you can work with them and how you can get them to be your supporter and advocate in the process. They may not have direct responsibility for purchasing but often they will have significant influence on the chosen vendor so you need to get them onside.
So in summary, you should consider hiring a consultant as valuable addition to your team for your next project, a critical friend who will offer impartial advice and guidance leading to your long term success. After all they will want you to be successful for possible future engagements and for referrals.