Business Consultancy? What does it offer…

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A Good Business Consultant delivers Business Improvement

What do Good Business Consultants do?

  • They improve business performance
  • They deliver tangible results
  • They relentlessly seek to deliver tangible value
I consider some of the perceived problems of Business Consultants and then consider what good Business Consultants can offer.

What are the Problems with Business Consultants?

Question: What does a consultant do if you ask him the time?

Answer: He asks to borrow your watch, he tells you the time and then walks off with your watch.

The word consultant does have some baggage, basically because it has become a term that has been used too much to mean too many things ….some of them negative. And without a well known brand name behind it the negative baggage may come to the fore.

It is associated in some minds with many initiatives that delivered few quantifiable benefits. It is associated with high costs  and sometimes with a  lack of drive, initiative and creativity.

And of course unlike a doctor or a lawyer, anyone can call themselves a consultant.

Without the support of a well known consultancy brand then some of the negative market perceptions of Business Consultancy may dominate  in the mind of a prospective customer and a focus on value becomes even more essential.

I have asked some questions below to answer a few questions that may explain the benefits that good business consultants can offer.

What Areas do they Work in?

  • Management Consulting 16% (  Operations Management(inc. Sales& Marketing) 43%, Strategy 31%,HR 20%, IT strategy & planning 6%)
  • IT Outsourcing 36%
  • Business Process Outsourcing 28%
  • Systems Integration 20%

Why do Clients Hire them?

  • People needs
    • Specialist skills or a level of knowledge they lack internally
  • Thinking needs
    • A different perspective
    • Gather and analyse data to back up perspective
    • Challenge long term assumptions
  • Process and technology needs
    • Transferring an idea into reality
    • Provide best practice and thought leadership
    • Provide the focus the deliver on time and to budget

How do they Deliver Business Improvement ?

  • Specialist Projects
    • Utilize specialist knowledge
  • Integrated Solutions
    • Large scale change
  • Strategic Advice
    • Generate business insight
    • Focus on advisory work rather than implementation

What Business Improvement do they deliver?

  • Improve effectiveness – getting the desired result (doing the right thing)
  • Improve efficiency – getting it quickly (doing the thing right)
  • Delivered with economy – getting it at a reasonable market rate
    • Smaller firms with the right specialist knowledge, experience and tools can offer economy and flexible engagement models.

What kind of Consultancy Firms are there?

  • Traditional Delivery (Almost all skills in house)
    • Relationship
      • e.g. Mc Kinsey, Bain. Mainly focussed on effectiveness projects such as strategy advice
    • Product
      • e.g. Simon-Kucher. Top line growth through advising on pricing and marketing.
  • Hub & Spoke Delivery (Hub with brand, support and winning business with spoke as associates/partners for delivery)
    • Broker Firms
      • e.g. Eden McCallum. Cope well with variable income stream with variable cost base.  They co-ordinate the resources necessary to deliver a broad range of consulting services to clients
    • Diversifying Firms
      • e.g.  Xerox. Company with historical product heritage and use it a launch pad into the world of professional services.
  • Integrator ( Prime contractor managing subcontractors/partners as required)
    • Transformation Firms
      • e.g. IBM/Accenture. Moving from transactions to transformation. Requires (1) scale to deliver results – organizational and financial. (2) Depth of knowledge and (3) correct fusion of business(consulting & outsourcing) and technology. Is about long term continuous improvement and relationships.
    • Transaction Firms
      • e.g. CapGemini,LogicaCMG,EDS. Small number of large deals focussed on on large scale systems delivery or outsourcing. Tend to be one off deals rather than continuous.

What does a Good Consultant offer?

  • Relentless effort  to increase value for customers
  • Trust
  • Specialist knowledge
    • And continuous learning to maintain knowledge
  • Breadth of Experience
  • Perspective
  • Good interpersonal & communication skills and an ability to inspire trust
  • Development of case histories, best practice and tools
  • Thought Leadership (truely original or at least original to the organisation..most customers are happy with ideas that are pragmatic and have well defined case histories that demonstrate tangible value delivered.)
  • Ability to manage projects  that will deliver tangible business improvement

What is the Best Method of Promoting Business Consultancy?

Lead with Value

It is better that they lead with the tangible value that they can deliver very clearly as otherwise they will not brand themselves positively in the mind of the prospective audience. Without the support of a well known consultancy brand then this approach becomes essential as some of the negative market perceptions of Business Consultancy may dominate.

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