Presentation to the IIBA UK South West Branch Event –Thursday 10th February 2011 ‘Can in-house BusinessAnalysts compete with external consultants?’Peter GaneBusiness ConsultantEdf Energy
IIBA 10th February 2011 My thoughts (and those of my colleagues) on the often emotive topic of ‘Can in-house Business Analysts compete with external consultants?’ Questions as they arise, but I may ask to respond later on But first, the Safety Message of day…
Safety Message of the day EDF Energy is committed to Safety and has an on-going ‘Zero Harm’ objective. Each day we have safety messages (depending on which part of the business you are in) that open each meeting. Thursday 10th February 2011, the message is;Why are the safest organisations generally the most productive? Safety performance is the result of excellent preplanning, preparation and quality execution. Resulting in doing things on time, once and without rework.
‘Can in-house Business Analysts compete with external consultants?’ In the last 5 years EDF Energy has developed an Internal Business Analysts (BA) competency group that is still growing to support a wide range of mainly IT Projects and business transformations The group are part of Corporate shared services In 2010 the BA Competency Group was renamed ‘Business consultants’ to help promote their ‘brand’ Business Consultants are managed through a resource pool and allocated to assignments (usually projects) throughout the business units Internal Business Consultants account for about 30% of those analysts/consultants allocated to assignments … the other 70% are externals The question of can they compete with external consultants is topical as we consider how best to develop the group in the future…
Can in-house Business Analysts compete with external consultants?’What advantages can external consultants bring? Global network of experience – even if they don’t have the knowledge themselves, they can find material, methodology, contacts within their company Resources – usually quite easy to get large numbers of people – swap people in and out as necessary on projects – wide range of skill sets available Experience from a wide range of industry – have usually seen similar things done before in other business, can advise on what worked/ didn’t and tailor approaches accordingly Focus on deliverables –work to tight scope (can also be a major disadvantage) Flexibility – external consultants (contractors & consultancies) expect to have travel as a major part of their day job – they can be more adaptable and flexible Opportunity - for staff to keep up-to-date with the latest position & developments. vital that staff are well briefed on the market and their area of expertise. Objective opinion and insight – not caught up in politics or tied to a way of doing things
Can in-house Business Analysts compete with external consultants?’What advantages do internal Business Analysts/Consultants have? Actual company knowledge ;– so much time of an external consultants life is getting to grips with the ‘new business’. Internal BAs often know how things run, who to speak to and how to ‘make things work for them’. Leverage existing company relationships Knowledge of stakeholders Company business process expertise ; Often the consultants on projects end up knowing more about how an area of a business runs than those who are in it. Knowledge stays within the business – internal consultants actually see what happens to their work once it is operational. Lessons learnt from the implementation and the success of its subsequent operation. Understanding of legacy issues - previous issues and how they were resolved Not mercenary - do not concentrate on their “margin” for services rendered. Trust – business’ can distrust externals (the opposite can also be true)
Can in-house Business Analysts compete with external consultants?’Does the business need External consultants? Yes! Need to differentiate between Independent consultants and Premier Partners Need the right mix For specific issues that require Subject Matter Expertise knowledge/input To aid with internal capability building. To keep the business at the forefront of the industry – need to be constantly reminded of industry best practice Helps to beat our competitors
Can in-house Business Analysts compete with external consultants?’What factors drive a good balance between internal and external business analysts/consultants? Internal consultants should look to focus on sustainability and continuity of our business Should build internal capabilities to keep us operating efficiently and effectively at the same steady state. External consultants are required when we want to push the performance of our business to that next level, keeping us in the upper quartile of the industry league tables.
Can in-house Business Analysts compete with external consultants?’What problems arise if we have the wrong balance between internal and external business analysts/consultants? If not enough internal resource there is no capacity to absorb knowledge from outside the business External consultants can exploit this and make us dependent upon them for skills and experience which we will constantly rely upon. There is a continual risk of knowledge disappearing out the door if we rely too heavily on external consultants If the balance is in the other direction, there will be a stagnant pool of internal resources that will find it difficult to rise to larger challenges of the business.
Can in-house Business Analysts compete with external consultants?’Where can internal Business Analysts/Consultants best be used? For improvement projects requiring lots of domain knowledge Where cultural change needs to be effected and benefits are to be realised over a longer period. Should not (usually) be used for specialist (e.g. IT related projects) where the benefits are more ”one-off” in nature. External consultants are (usually) better in this instance.
Can in-house Business Analysts compete with external consultants?’What Gaps do internal Business Analysts/Consultants have?Skills Stakeholder Management Consulting skills (usually the softer skills) Structured approach to problem solvingExperience Work in other industries/with other competitors Industry knowledge Experience of working in challenging/hostile environmentsCapability Less able to address steeper challenges and stretched targets May find it difficult to deliver difficult messages such as headcount reduction
Can in-house Business Analysts compete with external consultants?’How can these gaps be addressed and over what timescale? Gaps can be addressed by consistent, focused capability building – this is underway as part of the Competency Group Development activity Keep boosting internal knowledge with staff drawn from other industries / consultancies A natural flux of staff is healthy and allows new ideas to be brought into the group The most experienced Analysts/consultants need to be involved in external events to ensure they understand best practice approaches Encouraging internal business units to consider the use of internal business consultants in areas previously reserved for externals is a cultural change and will take time to achieve
Can in-house Business Analysts compete with external consultants?’What priority issues that should we address? Stakeholder management, quality and timeliness of deliverables Need to get better at placing our internals on projects, developing their careers and generally getting the best out of the resources that we do have Need to define and be very clear about the service we offer to our business partners and the value it brings Ensure we engage with our partners to understand their changing needs and adjust our plans accordingly