Employee vs. Consultant

When should you hire an employee vs. a consultant? 

For companies who find themselves with a project resourcing need, a common conundrum is whether to hire an employee or engage a consultant. Alluvionic’s Operations Manager, Cherise White, has discovered three simple questions to help leaders identify what solution may be best for their situation. With several years of both employee staffing and consulting experience, White encourages executives and hiring leaders to reflect on the prompts below to clarify what solution is best for them. 


Question #1: How complex is the project? 

Project goals vary greatly in complexity. Simple projects could include updating standard PMO templates or managing a small engineering sprint. Complex projects could include managing a multi-site ERP implementation for two merging companies or creating an Integrated Master Schedule (IMS) for the government. While both employees and consultants can support projects of varying complexities, some considerations should be made. 

Hiring an employee is a great solution to manage a series of ongoing, low- to medium-complexity projects. For more complex projects, however, the time it takes to hire an employee increases when a highly specific skillset is required. Employees may also require a greater training investment if they must upskill their capabilities. 

Engaging a consulting firm for low to medium-complexity projects is often the quickest, but not always the most cost-effective, way to meet a resourcing need. For projects requiring a specialized skillset, consultants are frequently the best option as they are staffed with highly qualified, specialized resources who follow proven project success processes. 


Question #2: How long will the company require this resource’s support? 

Projects, by definition, have a start and end date. Consider the duration of the support needed for the effort. 

When a resourcing need is permanent or combines ongoing operational tasks with temporary project assignments, an employee is often the best solution. Employees depend on long-term stability and can provide additional value as they learn about the organization and perform ongoing tasks as part of their role. 

Consultants are often the best solution when sole dedication to a short- or long-term project is required. Some consultants can also fulfill long-term operational needs. Qualified consultants provide an impartial perspective on business and organizational culture aspects of the project and are available on an as-needed basis or to provide stop-gap support. 


Question #3: What solution provides the most value for the cost? 

Many factors affect the cost of hiring employees and engaging consultants. Contemplate the unapparent costs before beginning the search for a new resource. 

In addition to an employee’s salary and total benefits package, estimate the recruiting, onboarding, and training expenses required for the role. In some circumstances, an employee may leave the role for which they were hired resulting in turnover expenses. Highly engaged employees, however, provide essential support to the operations and culture of an organization. 

Consultant rates are almost always higher than hiring an employee directly. The duration of support, travel expenses and regular hours are all contributing factors to cost. The value of consultant support, however, may mean they can do more with fewer hours than a direct employee. 

Employees and consultants provide critical support for today’s business ecosystem. Before beginning your search for your next project need, ask these three questions to clarify which solution is best for the situation, or contact the project experts at Alluvionic to determine if a consulting solution is right for you. 


About Alluvionic

Founded in 2013, Alluvionic provides Project Assurance® through project management, process improvement, product development, and cybersecurity solutions with locations in Melbourne, FL, Washington D.C., and Charleston, SC (coming soon). Alluvionic holds several certifications including SBA 8(a) certified, ISO:9001:2015 certified, CMMC-AB Registered Provider Organization (RPO), CMMI® Institute Partner, DCAA Compliant Accounting System, GSA Contract Holder, GSA 8(a) STARS III Contract Holder and more. In 2021, Alluvionic was awarded the recognition of Orlando Business Journals’ “Best Places to Work”. Learn more about Alluvionic at www.Alluvionic.com.

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