A frequent subject that comes up in project planning or management review conversations is whether to hire a consultant or an employee to fill a business/ project resource need. While each situation is different there are various advantages to each type of hire relative to the overall business objective. This article suggests a few pros and cons for each type of hire to consider.
When a company has a long-term role it is typically more advantageous to hire an employee where the company will benefit more by having a dedicated person responsible for a defined set of objectives that may evolve over time. A few example hiring situations where employees have more advantages include:
Project work that involves sensitive or confidential information
Running QA tests to investigate/ validate field reported issues, for compliance with post-market monitoring and vigilance requirements
Maintaining a Manufacturing or Management System
Sustaining Engineering functions
Support for Technical Sales and Marketing
On the flip side hiring an employee can sometimes be like hiring a generalist rather than a specialist, and getting the intended results only after adequately training them to fit the role’s needs. In addition, employees have running overhead costs for benefits and other incentives.
In other hiring situations, when a company has an immediate or near-term goal to accomplish with a clearly defined scope and objective, hiring a consultant can be particularly advantageous for several reasons; including:
Access to specialized experts in the particular application field, for low-risk execution with know-how knowledge
Brings a fresh perspective, with independence and industry experience, which can help break away tribal cultures
No overhead, with costs only when the work is being done
Higher accountability to delivery costs and schedule commitments, to grow the business relationship
When expert regulatory knowledge is required to support correspondence with FDA for successful market approvals
The most common disadvantage of hiring consultants is that they typically cost more on an hourly basis. In reality though, the cost tradeoff needs to account for the time urgency to accomplish a particular goal, and the expertise involved to successfully execute on the business objective.
Choosing between hiring an employee or a consultant should be based on your overall business objectives, budget and priorities. Each hiring situation is different, and sometimes a hybrid solution serves best; the consultant will often deliver on the near-term objectives (e.g. FDA 510k submission preparation) while providing training and reference material that employees can maintain for continued operations. Many times consultants will create a framework on short order based on their individual expertise, and leave behind a structured template which can be leveraged in future similar projects. Remember that your needs may change as your company grows and evolves. It is important to evaluate your hiring options carefully, with both near-term and long-term foresight, in order to successfully achieve your overall business goals.
Contact us today if you need any assistance with recruiting.