ADAPT &PROSPERCONSULTANCY IN A CHANGING CLIMATEA WHITE PAPER SUMMARY OF DISCUSSIONS WITH BUSINESS LEADERSBY NICK CLOSE & M...
EPI WOULD LIKE TO THANKTHE ABOVE CONSULTANTS FOR THEIR HELP IN THIS STUDYNeil MorecraftMarc RobertsLen ToddJohn AtkinsonSt...
CONTENTS2 Thanks to Those Who Helped3 Contents4 Setting The Scene5 Response to Q1:What Changes In The Marketplace Have You...
EPI has been helping reducecosts and improve efficiencyfor over 20 years, and in thattime its business model haschanged qui...
Q: WHAT CHANGES INTHE MARKET PLACEHAVE YOU OBSERVED THELAST FEW YEARS?Clients want bespoke solutions at off the peg prices...
I’ve experienced clients become more open &receptive to our offerings as economic conditionshave effected confidence and fo...
Principally, the UK market in particular has becomemore competitive, but the line between consultingand contracting has be...
SUMMARYWHAT CHANGES IN THE MARKET PLACE HAVE YOU OBSERVED INTHE LAST FEW YEARS?• Principally, the UK market is becoming mu...
Q: HAVE YOU MADE ANYSTRATEGIC CHANGES TOYOUR CONSULTANCYPRACTICE?We’ve become ever more narrowly focused on amarket segmen...
Pre 2008 I was happy to be small business focused.Then I effectively had 2.5 years away fromconsultancy as MD of a small b...
In 2010 I made a strategic change to move BeechTree away from offering multiple programmes forseveral diverse audiences, t...
SUMMARYHAVE YOU MADE ANY STRATEGIC CHANGES TO YOURCONSULTANCY PRACTICE?• A large number of consultants and practices have,...
Q: WHAT DO YOU THINKCONSULTANCIES NEEDTO DO TO THRIVE?Dedication, commitment, enthusiasm, structure,top level CEO / GM dri...
Adapt to current market conditions and lookoutside the UK - languages are key to making thiswork (and fortunately my pract...
SUMMARYWHAT DO YOU THINK CONSULTANCIES NEED TO DO TO THRIVE?• Listen more & evolve to meet the customer and market.• Align...
Q: WHAT DO YOU THINKABOUT STRATEGICALLIANCES WITH OTHERCONSULTANCIES?Eagle Partnerships has always worked and formedstrate...
Depends on the scale and pedigree - the otherconsultancy needs to deliver to your standard as aminimum.Mark DaviesThey don...
Only works if it is blind to the customer and is oftenneeded to meet a requirement.Stephen McCombThese are a good idea if ...
SUMMARYWHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT STRATEGIC ALLIANCES WITHOTHER CONSULTANCIES?• Above all, parties MUST deliver to the same s...
Q: WHAT TRENDS DOYOU FORESEE OVER THENEXT FEW YEARS?I see a big need developing in my area as theeconomy refocuses on manu...
I think organisations will need to become muchmore flexible and speed up the route to deliverysignificantly to compete in th...
More of what I’ve written in response to thequestion ‘what changes in the marketplace haveyou observed in the last few yea...
SUMMARYWHAT TRENDS DO YOU FORESEE OVER THE NEXT FEW YEARS?• Continuing move from generalist to specialist.• Niche consulta...
Q: WHAT ARE YOURBIGGEST CONSULTINGCHALLENGES?Growing my business in the next two years andexpanding my customer base. I am...
Making sure we continue to generate more revenuefrom our expertise - and creating sources of long-tail revenue.Bob ApolloG...
SUMMARYWHAT ARE YOUR BIGGEST CONSULTING CHALLENGES?• Work acquisition and growth.• Balancing time between developing busin...
SO, IN CONCLUSION...• The market place is crowded and competitive, and those thriving will stand out by quality, expertise...
TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT USFOLLOW THESE GREAT LINKShttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REujOwvYpxAhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=...
THANKS FOR YOUR TIMEAND EPI WILL BE IN TOUCH AGAIN SOONWITH OUR NEXT WHITE PAPER
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Adapt & Prosper

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CONSULTANCY IN A CHANGING CLIMATE

A WHITE PAPER SUMMARY OF DISCUSSIONS WITH BUSINESS LEADERS

BY NICK CLOSE & MEL CHAPLAIN OF EPI INTERNATIONAL

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Adapt & Prosper

  1. 1. ADAPT &PROSPERCONSULTANCY IN A CHANGING CLIMATEA WHITE PAPER SUMMARY OF DISCUSSIONS WITH BUSINESS LEADERSBY NICK CLOSE & MEL CHAPLAIN OF EPI INTERNATIONAL
  2. 2. EPI WOULD LIKE TO THANKTHE ABOVE CONSULTANTS FOR THEIR HELP IN THIS STUDYNeil MorecraftMarc RobertsLen ToddJohn AtkinsonStephen McCombJohn AnfieldMartin RiddellRob HinesJames SaleIan LukeDarren MeeDavid BeckPeter JonesAnonymous ConsultantsMark DaviesAndrew WilcockAlasdair RobertsonIhsan Al-ZankiDavid OldroydFergus RyanGeorge RyderBruce LewinLiz MachtyngerStephen MurphyBob ApolloMark BurnettKit PatelAnne MorrisMarco Busi
  3. 3. CONTENTS2 Thanks to Those Who Helped3 Contents4 Setting The Scene5 Response to Q1:What Changes In The Marketplace Have You Observed In The Last Few Years?8 Summary Q19 Response to Q2:Have You Made Any Strategic Changes To Your Consultancy Practice?12 Summary Q213 Response to Q3:What Do You Think Consultancies Need To Do To Thrive?15 Summary Q316 Response to Q4:What Do You Think About Strategic Alliances With Other Consultancies?19 Summary Q420 Response to Q5:What Trends Do You Foresee Over The Next Few Years?23 Summary Q524 Response to Q6:What Are Your Biggest Consulting Challenges?27 Summary Q628 CONCLUSIONS29 Contact InformationOVERVIEWThis White Paper shares qualitative research sought from practicing consultants Q1/2013, andcan be read in depth word-by-word, or as a useful quick-glance guide by going to the‘summary’ page for each question, or the ‘conclusions’ page at the end.All pertinent responses have been reproduced verbatim, and at the end of each questionsection, the key points have been summarised to capture the main findings.
  4. 4. EPI has been helping reducecosts and improve efficiencyfor over 20 years, and in thattime its business model haschanged quite radically. EPImoved away from traditionalconsultancy and towardssoftware with service &knowledge transfer.Over a period of years we developedsoftware (with Warwick University) thatcaptures consultant expertise andmethod. The result is iCEO - a suite ofsoftware tools that radically increases thespeed and quality of analysis, and offersadvantages to both consultant and clientsfor cost and ‘relationship’ results.We created iCEO as it was the softwarewe wanted, so we could more simply andeasily VISUALISE, ANALYSE, PRIORITISE& ACTUALISE cost reductions & processimprovements.As a consultant, the software speeds upand simplifies process; it integrates datafrom disparate sources, and creates highlyvisual spend models that can be slicedand diced for deep drilling. Clients valuethe speed of turn around, flexibility of thedata, and the ‘knowledge transfer’ thatcan be part of the software-with-servicepackage - delivering perceived ‘extravalue & expertise’.As we moved into phase three of ourbusiness model and efforts, we began tolook increasingly outwards and across themarket place, and began wondering...If EPI has been changing to meet thechanging market place, is the rest of themarket doing the same to future proofitself?As we were already connecting with like-minded consultants within forums andLinkedIn, we thought ‘let’s make thoseLinkedIn transactions with others equallyfocused and create some research of realvalue’.So we did, and this White Paper is theresult - and will be the first in a seriesexploring and answering questions ontrends, challenges and opportunitieswithin this sector.We hope you find it insightful and useful,and we welcome any feedback on thispaper or suggestions for future papers.4 / 29SETTING THE SCENET
  5. 5. Q: WHAT CHANGES INTHE MARKET PLACEHAVE YOU OBSERVED THELAST FEW YEARS?Clients want bespoke solutions at off the peg prices.This in itself is nothing new, but combined withincreased availability of knowledge from the web,consultancy needs more than just tools &techniques to survive.Andrew WilcockThe market valuing focus & domain expertise. Ifyou can demonstrate you’ve got that, you cancommand significantly rising day rates & fees.Bob ApolloCustomer demanding more added-value from theconsultants, and they prefer the hands-onapproach. Ihsan Al-ZankiI am of the opinion that the major clients marketshave tended to use ‘the big 4’ primarily so as to bebeyond criticism from the analysts. In other wordsconsultancy has followed the same pattern asexternal accountancy. At the other end of themarket, small businesses have shied away fromconsultancy usage as pressure on funding hasintensified - courtesy of the tough recession. Onlychronic under-performers and those with significantgrowth aspirations have continued to make full useof consultants, but the space has become crowdedcourtesy of interim management supply.David Oldroyd5 / 29
  6. 6. I’ve experienced clients become more open &receptive to our offerings as economic conditionshave effected confidence and forced change.I’ve also observed in larger organisations, careerorientated people are concerned about not doingthe wrong thing - they are risk adverse, less nimbleand generally don’t feel market changes as quicklyas smaller companies. They may take consultancyas an insurance policy to fall back on.Whereas the smaller company feels the market painmore readily, and is often more nimble and open-minded from this receptive position.I believe the softer middle market is niche focus - ifconsultants can evidence their credentials.Bruce LewinAs the pressures on businesses increase, they arelooking at more and more initiatives to try andreduce costs. However, the return on investment iseven more heavily scrutinised than previously, andthere are reservations on making big investments totruly transform processes, business & customerpropositions.Whilst this may seem the right thing to do, afterengaging on such projects for the last 3/4 years, ithas led to a lot of the ‘simple & easy to complete’programmes on minimal budgets. Thus leavingmore complex - but arguably more vital changes -with little or no appetite to invest.The positive to this approach is that it has reducedthe number of ‘pet projects’ being engaged aroundbusiness significantly; driven improvement andreduced the operating costs of the business alignedwith the challenges faced externally.The down side is that it has led to a culture ofextreme short term views - and apathy withinbusiness to suggest vital improvement, as theyknow that unless it will return X with little or nospend, it won’t get funding.This in turn has lead to work around processes:sticky plasters and local fixes being applied whichincreases the stress and strain on the floor.Kit PatelNoticeable is a tightening of the purse strings and agreater emphasis on outcome based charging. Forthe most part, consultants are chasing a reducedwork pool of assignments with a consequentialnegative impact on rates.George RyderDecreasing fees & shorter projects.Marco BusiA confusion between consultancy, interim andtemporary management roles.Stephen MurphyI see a tendency to make the most of internalconsultants/contractors as opposed to going to the‘big 4’ - this may be perceived as a way to limitcosts.AnonA major change for us has been a marked shift toInternational (now some 70% of billed hours) withparticular focus on build/consultancy mix.John AtkinsonThe market place tends to have more consultants -often people whose positions have been maderedundant. Companies are tightening their belts inthe recession and not increasing their permanentheadcount, so those that require an income areoften forced into consultancy. Often theseconsultants under cut on charges, and some do notdeliver to the necessary standard due to lack ofunderstanding of corporate business.Anne MorrisBigger bang for buck; less patience for journeymenconsultants; more leverage of who you know andtrack record; less reporting/writing & more delivery.Mark DaviesMove away from the straight consultancy inGovernment where they would bring in consultantsto do general work. Much more is now in house.Much more of a demand for specific specialistexpertise e.g. Lean, business change and deliveringcost reductions.Stephen McComb6 / 29
  7. 7. Principally, the UK market in particular has becomemore competitive, but the line between consultingand contracting has become even more blurredthan during the previous ten years. This I believe isdue to clients balancing the risk of directemployment against short term contractors and theconsulting community needing to compete for thattype of work, just to survive.Martin RiddellThere is more of a focus on: providing solutionsrather than advice; implementation rather thanrecommendations, and increased importance onsector/industry knowledge and expertise.AnonA great deal of consolidation of established, smallerand medium sized consultancies into bigger entitiesby acquisition, merger or strategic partnerships. Anumber of good practices have lost their ‘identity’as a result.Many consultant practitioners, particularly thelarger ones, have expanded their services withouthaving the genuine in house capability to deliver -they are trading on their old reputation, when it isnot entirely appropriate.As companies down size due to the economicclimate, there seems to be an increased need toutilise consultancies to fill the gap left by a loss ofknowledge and expertise - thus increased demandfor consultants.There is a growing market in services whichbusinesses have not traditionally carried as in houseexpertise e.g. CSR, sustainability, diversity, ITsupport etc.Ian LukeTrends towards consumer focus, value for money,cost reduction, results driven environment (facts &figures).Dave BeckClients reducing their consulting budget.Consulting fees being tied to results delivered. Morecreative billing propositions being offered byconsulting firms such as contingent fees etc. Morefirms eyeing the implement pie which means longerprojects.AnonMore reluctance of businesses to engage in longerterm developments. Instead they seem moreinterested in the short term, quick wins even whenthey may see the merits of reviewing how theywork through initial discussions.Rob HinesMassive. Where on earth would I start?Peter JonesGeneric stuff is a bit past it - forget the bigconsultancy/high day rate model - it’s all aboutsmall, specific providers with something new to say.Alasdair Robertson7 / 29
  8. 8. SUMMARYWHAT CHANGES IN THE MARKET PLACE HAVE YOU OBSERVED INTHE LAST FEW YEARS?• Principally, the UK market is becoming much more competitive. Largely due to there being more players in themarket place, and budgets being cut whilst expectations rise.• Clients are expecting more ‘value’ in many ways - by results, service, expertise and fee structure. More and more,fees are tied to results, with greater focus on measurable outcomes & ROI.• Projects have become shorter.• Additionally, specialist knowledge & niche focus is being perceived as the benchmark of excellence, and expectedto continue gaining gravitas.• VALUE and SPECIALISM are the buzz words.
  9. 9. Q: HAVE YOU MADE ANYSTRATEGIC CHANGES TOYOUR CONSULTANCYPRACTICE?We’ve become ever more narrowly focused on amarket segment that we identify through a numberof common demographics, structural, behaviouraland situational factors. As a result, we’ve becomebetter at qualifying in/out more accurately andearlier.We’ve also moved away from day rate based fees tovalue-based charging (this has helped boost thenotional day rate significantly).Bob ApolloYes I have, and I’ve started to make alliances withother other consultants and consultancies.Ihsan Al-ZankiWe are moving more towards knowledge transfer asthis gives us the ability to help clients over a longertime frame, imbeds knowledge within the company,and reduces the pressure on our internal resources -and from our perspective becomes a variable(project) cost rather than a fixed cost. We are alsolooking at new business models for consultancydelivery.Andrew WilcockOther than aligning our focus and resources tofurther exploit the shift to international business, nofurther strategic changes.John Atkinson9 / 29
  10. 10. Pre 2008 I was happy to be small business focused.Then I effectively had 2.5 years away fromconsultancy as MD of a small business. When Ireturned to the market I found that interest in usingconsultants had declined markedly. In manyinstances, clients were preoccupied with cost ratherthan value. I have therefore elected to sell myservices as ‘contracted resource‘ rather than as aconsultant.David OldroydWithin the practice we have restructured ourselvesto focus on strategic objectives. But with the keydifference of being the conscience of the internalcolleague and customer. Whilst supporting on theground delivery, we have identified and developeda nucleus of consultants that can work with thesenior stake holders around the business, to identifyand articulate a more holistic and longer term viewon change and transformation.This proposition is being uniquely packaged bylooking at ways to drive and deliver the short termbenefits. But rather than simply banking thesavings, we are looking at reinvesting and longerterm benefits. This has meant further developingthe ‘run-rate’ savings, cost profile, and revenueprofile models (to provide a holistic end-to-endview). In addition, challenging the structure fromfunctional to value-stream based accountability; bytruly looking at the big picture and working ofOrganisational and Operational design.Kit PatelYes. Given my background (EDS, Perot Systems etc)my practice was very out-sourcing focused. Out-sourcing in the interim has been a crowded market,as well as suffering from excessivecommoditisation. I have since wound up mycompany (1stadvisory Ltd ) and incorporatedAdvisorment Ltd under the commercial mantra of‘manage, market, mentor‘ (website underconstruction).George RyderYes. I’ve lost faith in the validity of the consultancymodel basically. I’m turning my practice into moreof an investment company (investing in the resultsof the consultancy we deliver).Marco BusiI originally set out trying to work with local SMEs(Dumfermline, Scotland). I have put this on theback burner and will take suitable work anywherefor anybody. I still have a preference for smallersites and smaller organisations. I wish to develop abusiness base in Scotland.Stephen MurphyAs an internal consultant I’ve seen more work comeinto my team than expected. We have made aconscious shift away from sheep-dip training andtaking over smaller projects to train the trainertraining, and taking over larger diagnostic pieces ofwork.AnonNot really. Eagle Partnerships, my business since1996, has always operated in a flexible manner. Ithas always been recognised by it’s ongoingcustomers as being an extension of their business,and providing a cost-effective and excellent service.Winning 4 Wales operates in the same way.Anne MorrisSpecialising in one area, instead of spreading ourconsultancy thinly: results in maximum focusedperformance and reputation...we focus on theautomotive engineering sector.Dave BeckI have tried to make strategic change to my practicebut have only limited success in moving into newareas. You get labelled and people do not seebeyond it. Also, there is a reluctance to have neweyes looking into a problem.Lenn ToddNo, but I network harder, and always look to helpas many people as possible in the hope there willbe a referral back.Mark DaviesMove to specialism rather than generic projectmanagement etc.Stephen McCombYes. Focus early 2013 on product, and thenmessage. Just as I would advise my own clients.Peter Jones10 / 29
  11. 11. In 2010 I made a strategic change to move BeechTree away from offering multiple programmes forseveral diverse audiences, to offering services injust one niche area: business ethics - as per mywebsite, which was redesigned to reflect this. Thiswon me a major client.John AnfieldYes. We have moved into a more strategic deliveryposition and have developed an overseas company(Australia).Martin RiddellYes. Huge changes and they are ongoing - plansare nothing, planning is everything and has to bekept under permanent review. The essence of it allis further niching, deeper value, more innovation,increased ‘layering’ - a process by which thecustomer experiences simplicity but thecompetition encounters complexity.James SaleRefocusing on our core competencies and a mix ofjunior and senior recruitment.AnonBearing Point are making more of a shift towardscomplimenting traditional consulting with assetbased consulting. By this we mean that we areinvesting in assets that can be sold as services -many firms are doing this: this is a trend inconsulting that has building for some years.Marc BurnettWorking with channel partners - they wrap theirservices around 4G software.Bruce LewinMany. Re-organisation of internal teams to betterstaff projects. Stress on internal knowledge transfer,development of Intellectual Capital. M&A to gainnew skills/clients quickly.AnonI am in the process of changing my approach to bemore relevant, tying together marketing andoperational functions.Rob HinesYes - specialise in high value add analytics.Alasdair Roberton11 / 29
  12. 12. SUMMARYHAVE YOU MADE ANY STRATEGIC CHANGES TO YOURCONSULTANCY PRACTICE?• A large number of consultants and practices have, or are intending to identify their specialisms and create a marketniche.• Many are looking towards new business models: some delivering more ‘knowledge transfer’ as it engages clientsfor longer and delivers additional ‘value’. Others bringing in assets such as software that can be sold as servicepackages.• The continued focus on ‘value’ is leading the change to value-based charging.• Companies are strengthening core competencies, to deliver expertly and ensure value-based charging delivers back.• Some are moving into overseas markets.
  13. 13. Q: WHAT DO YOU THINKCONSULTANCIES NEEDTO DO TO THRIVE?Dedication, commitment, enthusiasm, structure,top level CEO / GM drive and leadership.David BeckCertainly be flexible - and up customer carestandards.Anne MorrisIn my opinion develop niche specialisms to enableclients to select appropriate expertise from themarketplace. This also enables collaboration/consortia bids.John AtkinsonEvolve and listen to customer requirements andfeedback.Ihsan Al-ZankiRadically change their profit model (basicallycharging out younger / less experienced consultantsas a higher price).Marco BusiFlexibility is key. Listen to your customers needsand wants but also evaluate what their level ofunderstanding is - could it be that they are not sureof what you can offer? Sometimes it’s worth doinga smaller piece of work to showcase what can beachieved - then the interesting stuff follows,assuming you have done a good job.Anon13 / 29
  14. 14. Adapt to current market conditions and lookoutside the UK - languages are key to making thiswork (and fortunately my practice has most of theimportant European ones).George RyderThe whole market has become ultra-conservative.You have had to have succ ess in the potentialclients industry to be considered.David OldroydIn essence they need to focus, although telling aclient you can’t help them but you know a manwho can goes against the grain. Obviously theyneed lots of tools and techniques, but the majorchallenge is to gain trust from their client base,preferably with 3rd party white papers and qualityrecommendations from existing clients.Andrew WilcockBe focused, be experts and be practitioners ratherthan pontificators.Bob ApolloSkills and expertise that will deliver against thespecific requirements such as cost reduction,resolving operational issues, resolving qualityissues.Stephen McCombTrack record; network of referrals; the Ronseal effect- do what it says on the tin; no waffle or timewasting; the ability to introduce others of equalpedigree if you can’t deliver or it isn’t yourexpertise; ability to get right inside the issueempirically and with fact, and execute/implement/assist with recommendations.Mark DaviesSay NO more often. I believe that the difficultiesexperienced over the past few years have meantthat some consultancies have acceptedcommissions that do not align with their coreactivities - with the result they have diminishedtheir reputation in the market place. STORM hasavoided this tactic with the consequence that wehave advanced our brand, particularly overseas.Martin RiddellReligiously focus on adding value and providingreal solution to problems; develop sector/industryfocus; recruit great people; deliver great work.AnonOnly sell what they can genuinely deliver andensure that it is done in a high quality manner.Ensure that the product being offered is refinedbefore trying to sell it. Where appropriate join withothers who carry truly complimentary skills toprovide a seamless service, and take away the needfor the client to manage the interface. Set realistictimescales to deliver the end product/service and ifpossible try to beat those durations - but do notpromise optimistic and almost impossibledeadlines.Look for the smaller niche markets whichdifferentiate the service and genuinely providesomething the clients will need/benefit from. Resistthe current trend to ‘sell what it looks like ratherthan what it is’.Ian LukeKeep reinventing themselves and think of the valuethey can provide.AnonA difficult one to answer. If you are by yourself, doyou compete with established businesses who haveteams and more collateral to invest in marketingand promotional activities. I guess find commonground with strategic partners, but my answer to 4alludes to how difficult this may be.Rob HinesPartner, innovate, collaborate, be creative, offervalue, deliver service.Peter JonesHave something new to say - quick, short, focused‘micro consulting’ offers are what the market isresponding to.Alasdair RobertsonFor large consultancies to prosper they need to beable to articulate what value they can bring overand above what the associate pool can deliver.Many businesses are now enhancing their owninternal capability to enhance their valuepropositionMarc Roberts14 / 29
  15. 15. SUMMARYWHAT DO YOU THINK CONSULTANCIES NEED TO DO TO THRIVE?• Listen more & evolve to meet the customer and market.• Align with your core competencies and only deliver high quality.• Develop a niche and build these specialisms and expertise further.• Be dedicated and structured, and always focusing on adding value.• Look beyond the UK market.
  16. 16. Q: WHAT DO YOU THINKABOUT STRATEGICALLIANCES WITH OTHERCONSULTANCIES?Eagle Partnerships has always worked and formedstrategic alliances with other consultancies.Winning 4 Wales operates the same policy.Anne MorrisIf knowledge and experience of the alliancebusiness/personnel is known then it should beexplored in certain circumstances.David BeckA positive opportunity. Key in my opinion is like-minded thinking, approach method and clearcontractual arrangements.John AtkinsonWhy not. Consultants range from general businessto people like myself with very specificmanufacturing skills. If you have similar sharedvalues then get in there and build on each othersstrengths. I have often thought of work as‘adventures with my mates’ rather than something Ido to make money.Stephen MurphyWhen right, fabulous! When wrong, catastrophic.We use a BS11000 approach to strategicpartnership which facilitates clarity and a clear exitstrategy at the beginning of collaborative work.Martin Riddell16/ 29
  17. 17. Depends on the scale and pedigree - the otherconsultancy needs to deliver to your standard as aminimum.Mark DaviesThey don’t work because rarely 1+ 1 = 3Marco BusiI truly believe that it is good and beneficial for allparties.Ihsan Al-ZankiNot convinced....ties yes, but alliances maysometimes work counter-productively. A better wayto see it would be looking at your USP andmapping which consultancies you need to have tiesin; which you need to have as allies; and which youare direct competition with. A bit of stress in thesystem is not a bad thing.AnonGreat idea but the established ones are not thatinterested unless you bring a client base andcomplimentary skill sets.George RyderI think this would be a beneficial thing in practice,as it leverages the experience and knowledge baseof a wider population. This allows for crossfertilisation of techniques and thinking acrossindustry segments, and also leads to innovation.The core skills in improvement and changemanagement are common, but the application ofthese cannot be a ‘one size fits all’ approach someof the ‘Big 4’ would suggest by the industry segmentthat they are working with. An example of this isdemonstrated by one of the recent engagements wehad, where we worked with two externalconsultancy services (one from the ‘Big 4’ - let’s callthem ‘X’ . The other ‘Y’ has worked with them foryears). The topic was regarding spans of control inthe operation, and X suggested an approach similarto what had been recommended with other FSclients they had worked with. This was ‘sold’ tosenior stakeholders on the credibility of X’s brand -whilst Y looked at the proposition, and havinginsight of the business understood that the modelsimply can not be applied wholesale across a groupdue to the nature of the work and systems requiringsupport. The pilot area was not successful with theproposition X put forward, but with some minortweaks that X, Y and my team came up with, wedemonstrated benefit to adopting a revised model.Had X and Y worked together and leveraged eachothers strengths, it would have saved significanttime and cost, and improved credibility as well asrelationships.Another example of cross pollination of techniquesused in different industries can be seen in recentbreakthroughs in the oil industry - as a direct resultof the techniques used in medicine for a number ofyears, thus proven and just requiring someadaptation.Not only is this industry based, but there is also anelement of learning from R&D in multiple areas thatcan be used in a segment other than where it isbeing investigated.Finally, I would question how well globalconsultancy firms utilise best practices from aroundthe world in tackling the challenges faced by theirclients, and whether there is an opportunity toleverage internal best practice as a stepping stone tostrategic alliances.Kit PatelI am a fan of alliances but most of the market is not.It fails to recognise that the sum of all parts is oftenbetter than the one whole.David OldroydThey can work, but informal tactical alliances arequick and easy to set up. More formal alliances area bit of a challenge - size does matter here! In largeorganisations systems will tend to be against themas it can take weeks to put together a memorandumof understanding, which does not interfere orconflict with another persons project.Andrew WilcockWe haven’t seen the value of partnering with otherconsultancies. We have seen value in partneringwith specialists in other related parts of the eco-system - for example, sales trainers, digitalmarketing agencies, and telemarketing companies.They are all part of the ‘whole product’ and are allpractitioners rather than consultants.Bob Apollo17/ 29
  18. 18. Only works if it is blind to the customer and is oftenneeded to meet a requirement.Stephen McCombThese are a good idea if they are genuinelycomplimentary, deliver a saleable package and aproduct that is of benefit to the client. Quality ofservice must be equally as good from all parties inthe alliance. If the reasons for the alliance are forgeographic or resource availability reasons then theneed to ensure genuine quality of service from allparties is very important. For the clients sake, suchalliances need to be properly and legally set upeven if the partners feel relaxed about therelationship.The reputation of a good consultant can be effectedby who they team up with. An alliance that reallycombines complimentary services under onebanner can be a Godsend to a client who doesn’twant the problem of interface management, if it iswell delivered and properly managed.Management of the alliance’s services needs to bethrough one focal point to avoid conflictingmessages to clients.A genuine alliance will be more likely to succeedthan those consultancies who sell a wider servicebut in truth can not deliver. They can enableflexibility of operations to suit the market ifmanaged correctly and thus more opportunities.Ian LukeCan be very useful, but it is vital that the valueproposition is very clear and that ‘2 + 2 = 5’ !AnonIf you are in a good niche, alliances are lessimportant. If you are in an alliance, it needs to betightly formed.Bruce LewinM&A is the way for bigger organisations. Nicheconsulting firms do collaborate.AnonI have discussed this with several people over thepast few years, but one of the biggest stumblingblocks seems to be ‘who leads’ and ‘under whosebrand’ and what the different levels of charging maybe. At the end of the day, it may be that it comesdown to trust - which can only come over time.Maybe it depends on how you classify aconsultancy: is it someone who merely advises, oris it hands-on in development of projects or even interms of providing a service through their expertise?Rob HinesWe should see the emergence of virtual networks tocompete with the big boys.Peter JonesAll in favour - it’s what we thrive on.Alasdair Robertson18/ 29
  19. 19. SUMMARYWHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT STRATEGIC ALLIANCES WITHOTHER CONSULTANCIES?• Above all, parties MUST deliver to the same standards & share values. Otherwise far from achievingenhancement, reputation will be diminished.• Beneficial, especially in the emerging ‘niche’ marketplace, as it can leverage experience & knowledge.• Clear contractual arrangements help it run smoothly and manage expectations. BS11000 supports collaborativeworking, and a clear exit strategy at the beginning of the collaborative work (excellent guidance can be found atwww.bs1100.com).• Bad experiences have put some off, whilst others create informal alliances as needed.
  20. 20. Q: WHAT TRENDS DOYOU FORESEE OVER THENEXT FEW YEARS?I see a big need developing in my area as theeconomy refocuses on manufacturing, andmanufacturing is returned to the UK. There aremore people as say, Head of Division nowadays,who are just saying ‘continuous improvement -here’s the cash now just get on with it’ knowingfull well the cost benefits will be huge.As manufacturing organisations have trimmed backon manpower, I think they will start to use goodquality, effective consultants rather than permanentstaff to develop their organisationsStephen MurphyA further move from generalists to specialists with acloser client focus upon measurable value delivery.John AtkinsonMore emphasis on practices who can work abroadand are adaptable. More risk sharing. More resultsbased charging typically for defined pieces of work/projects.George RyderLocal business investment hubs, business skills hub,practice leaders emerging.Peter Jones20 / 29
  21. 21. I think organisations will need to become muchmore flexible and speed up the route to deliverysignificantly to compete in the market place, wherecustomer expectations are shifting more rapidlythan at any point in the past.With more ‘kick starter’ organisations/enterpriseschallenging the status quo; and more ’24/7’ alwayson; and instant gratification expectations - therewill be wholesale shifts in business models.No one will be allowed to ‘rest’ on market share/successes of the past (e.g. significant negative pressand drop in share price for Apple for not pushinginnovation enough with the iphone5; Microsoftloosing global organisations from their client listsfor Windows and Office support; Blackberry dip asa result of not meeting the speed of delivery ofcompetitors).As such consultancy services will also need to helporganisations develop and change their approachand model. The key challenge for an organisationsuch as LBG (who are not early adopters andrelatively risk averse) is how to move forward anddrive that change at a group level, given all thechallenges it faces. This is where astuteconsultancy services will be truly able to add value.Kit PatelGiven that HMRC get to a position that is equitablefor all, then consultancy and interim usage shouldincrease as more and more businesses concentrateon their core skills and contract out change relatedcosts.David OldroydThe relative importance of the cost of labour willdecrease further and faster in comparison to theimportance of the cost and availability of capital,which may mean less work for off-shoringconsultants and more work for manufacturingconsultants. However, our manufacturing tends bevery productive (Nissan & Toyota for example) sothe number of jobs returning will be a fraction ofthose needed to complete the same tasks in Chinaor India. As many companies now have Lean or SixSigma as their process improvement systems, andthis is being forced down the supply chains, thenext big leap will come with the growth inadvanced manufacturing strategies. These willinclude additive manufacturing, robotics and bio-engineering which will produce models which aretotally new.Andrew WilcockCompanies will move away from largeconsultancies and will use smaller contractors.Ihsan Al-ZankiNiche consultancies with a clear focus andaccumulated knowledge and best practice willthrive.Bob ApolloLess cash to waste but money to invest in thingsthat really make a difference.Mark DaviesFor STORM the future is clear. We will furtherdevelop our business in Australasia and continue todeal with valued clients in the UK and elsewhere.Martin RiddellAn increase in company outsourcing, thus moreopportunity for consultants. A wider range ofpossible functions that a consultant could provide.A greater need for consultants to be wary of theirclients from the point of view of professionalindemnity cover, even for the very best in themarket as there is a growing trend for a morecritical outlook to be taken by clients.A lot more IT related consultancy products/services.An increase in corporate governance aspects ofconsultancy. Solution based services will be morein demand. Greater competition betweenconsultants.Ian LukeAbility to respond to the large gaps that will appearas organisations realise they have lost a lot of staffbut still need to deliver. Therefore efficiency andproductivity of existing resources is going to be akey skill and sales message.Stephen McCombIncrease in SaaS. Opportunities from globalisationand virtual working. Impact of disruptivetechnologies.Anon21 / 29
  22. 22. More of what I’ve written in response to thequestion ‘what changes in the marketplace haveyou observed in the last few years?’AnonPotentially more consultants come into play,especially on the technology front. Admittedly,advances in this field are great, but will it end uphaving a long term benefit if in the rush to getahead, management practices and customerexperience are not taken into consideration or evenignored.For example, I recently had some interaction with acontent marketing company trying to get meonboard as a customer OR form my point of viewas a potential marketing solutions provider for myclients, as I had expressed a real interest in findingout more about them from either point of view.Needless to say the whole experience was in themain unprofessional and disappointing, as theyfailed to understand where I coming from and weredisjointed in their approach. A business crying outfor some consultancy but do they care enough todo something about it.Rob HinesBig players becoming less relevant.Alasdair RobertsonThere will definitely be a place for consultanciesworking with good practice and flexibility. We willhave to show the gain in productivity, profit, serviceetc therefore value for money.Anne MorrisMore overseas contracts & huge reduction in skillsbase (all disciplines).Dave BeckAgile approach to customer demand, scalablesolutions as more and more global companiesstruggle to save on costs; doing more with less.Anon22 / 29
  23. 23. SUMMARYWHAT TRENDS DO YOU FORESEE OVER THE NEXT FEW YEARS?• Continuing move from generalist to specialist.• Niche consultancies with clear focus.• More focus on ‘value’ and consulting fees being tied to results delivered.• Changing business models and creative billing propositions.• Overseas opportunities.• Opportunities as organisations move forward, and feel the gaps of previous staff loses - the space being filled byconsultants.• An increase in software/technology/SaaS.
  24. 24. Q: WHAT ARE YOURBIGGEST CONSULTINGCHALLENGES?Growing my business in the next two years andexpanding my customer base. I am planning toevolve my specialisation to serve the market.Ihsan Al-ZankiBeing in the right place at the right time. Resistingthe temptation to undertake work at which we donot excel.Martin RiddellThe next role; job; introduction - and the hugefootprint of the big players who try to be all thingsto all men and their dog!Mark DaviesCash flow, work acquisition, technical (digital/mobility) refreshment.George RyderEnough hours in the day to deliver all the work weare being asked for - long may it continue!Alasdair RobertsonFee structure.Neil MorecraftBalancing time working in the business as opposedto on the buiness.John AtkinsonFinding the money - investors or corporates.Peter JonesConvincing the clients of the need to change toachieve their objectives.Stephen McComb24 / 29
  25. 25. Making sure we continue to generate more revenuefrom our expertise - and creating sources of long-tail revenue.Bob ApolloGrowing profitability, but quickly. Comes down tostriking the balance between capacity and demand.AnonConsistent service quality. As the big guys expandand acquire they use their name to edge out thesmaller competitors, putting pressure on the smallerguys to be more innovative and economic. Findingthe niche market/getting the ‘edge’. Getting in thedoor as the number of consultancies grows andgrows.Ian LukeTime is the biggest challenge, and balancing thisresource between selling, enabling and deliveringprojects. In theory it would be simpler just toconcentrate on selling, but that would mean Iwouldn’t add value to the client (and it wouldn’t beinteresting).Andrew WilcockFind ways to get a foot in the door. Getting clientsto focus on value. Transferring skills into newmarkets. Keeping up with change and selectingwhere and how to develop USPs. Finding alliancepartners with a desire to play a different game.Most tend toward initially accepting work togetherand then try to undermine the relationship byabusing it.David OldroydGetting the right people.AnonThe single biggest challenge is how to transformbusiness processes on shoe-string budgets, aftermany years of Lean and Sigma based improvement.There are ways to do this, but it requires the abilityto clearly articulate a vision and strategy,communicate effectively at all levels, and manageconflicting priorities on a scale not previouslyexperienced. This has to be combined with theability to inspire and lead with trust and confidenceas well as suggest/sell the ‘radical’ in a way that itdoes not feel daunting to the audience. In additionto this, having the right mix of skills, knowledgeand expertise within the team to execute anddeliver on the plans is a challenge - when there is afinite resource pool internally and cost pressures tolimit external spend (learning from the externalconsultants, and sharing the learning wherepossible is a must). Ensuring that you driveimprovement in the consultancy team, up skill, andshare best practice/learning across a diverse remoteworkforce is also a key focus area.Kit PatelGrowthMarco BusiGetting leads in Scotland and developing businesshere. I find the business environment very veryconservative.Stephen MurphyEnsuring the results of consultancy shows trueimprovements and value and the consultancy isprepared to be evaluated.Anne MorrisEasy - always client culture and behaviouralchange.David BeckBuilding enough credibility and network presenceto be noticed or offering a number of services tounderpin consultancy, either internally or though anumbrella approach involving carefully selectedsuppliers.Rob HinesSimple. Very few projects.Len ToddObtaining the number of high quality Leanconsultants. I have found using the associatenetwork a far better way of selecting the capabilitiesI need. This can also be 50% more cost effectivethan using a well known consulting partner, whoalso pull from the same pool.Marc RobertsManaging the pipeline.Anon25 / 29
  26. 26. SUMMARYWHAT ARE YOUR BIGGEST CONSULTING CHALLENGES?• Work acquisition and growth.• Balancing time between developing business and servicing existing business.• Managing the pipeline and cash flow.• When the market is short on projects, resisting the temptation to do work that you don’t excel at.• Fee structure.
  27. 27. SO, IN CONCLUSION...• The market place is crowded and competitive, and those thriving will stand out by quality, expertise and capacity toshow ‘value‘.• That ‘value‘ and the measurable results delivered will be tied to fees.• Increasingly, knowledge transfer will become part of the consulting service, as will software.• Technology will advance speed and process, enhance the client offering, and become part of the extended value-package that includes knowledge transfer & software as a commodity to sell on.• As the consultants ‘niche’ more and more, strategic alliances will grow if standards and values match.• Natural worldwide market convergence - brought about by technologies - may see many more companies lookingbeyond the UK.• All sole practitioners and consultancies share common challenges with fewer and shorter projects, and balancingtime between developing business and delivering to clients.• Growth was a challenge shared by all.• Growth would seem to depend on all of the elements above.
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