The Comfort Of Consultants

John Byrne's story ("The craze for consultants," Cover Story, July 25) portrayed the profession as an "advice game" proffered by "necromancers" interested only in parlaying the smallest contract into the largest dollars. (Your octopus cover art wasn't much kinder.) I take exception.

Consultants serve a myriad of purposes in a dynamic business environment. Those "fads" that are cited are often cutting-edge tactics that keep businesses viable, competitive, and profitable. Companies rarely have the luxury of conducting the kind of research and assessment activities that consultants perform: We are paid for our knowledge base, which takes time, money, and energy to cultivate.

Perhaps you would like to do another story on the advantages of outside consultants. I suspect that story would fill more than six pages.

Renee V. Downey


Eagle Consultants

Syracuse, N.Y.

In consulting, it is no longer necessary to turn to megafirms, fashionable process, and newly minted MBAs. Small firms are providing custom results and exceptional value. My standards are to provide 10 times the value as my fees. It seems unlikely that AT&T will get $3.47 billion in value for the $347 million they spent on consultants. That is unfortunate, both for them and the consulting profession.

John D. Trudel

Trudel Group

Scappoose, Ore.

Your advice regarding the need for a systematic selection process is well taken. Unfortunately, smaller companies don't always know what consultants to contact. To address this, a new form of consultant has developed to assist these companies to identify their needs and to know which consultants are qualified to help. It's a relatively new concept. I believe it is one that will be increasingly accepted, however, as all companies expect more of consultants.

Donna Jean Rainville


Consulting Source Inc.

East Greenwich, R.I.

The dieting industry, like consulting, is a growing, lucrative business, yet 30% of Americans remain overweight. Consulting has produced similar results, as evidenced by one consultant in your article who realized, years later, that he only had a 25% success rate. Thank God he was not a brain surgeon!

James B. Haybyrne

Hong Kong

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