Getting By With A Llittle Help From Your Friends, Consultants, Mentors, Or Experts

These experts are business consultants offering “deep skill” services across range of activities. These include strategic planning, human resources, finance, marketing and even personal career mentoring to name just few.
Naturally consultants are quick to point out the benefits of using their services. The appropriate consultant offers specialised skills, provides access to wider knowledge and will dedicate time to solve problem. large consultancy offers clients the chance to tap into global network. In one engagement in New Zealand, Wellington-based Accenture transferred the design of system developed in New York to be used as the basis for local solution.
A key motivator for hiring consultant is to transfer some of the risk of failure and provide an appropriate risk/reward structure. No good consulting organisation will want to be associated with failed project and will work hard to prevent that situation.

Throwing money at problem, however, is pointless unless client has clear understanding of the scope of project and has desired outcome. To ensure that business consultants provide value for money, the return on the intervention must be greater than the cost of doing the project. The key here is to make project measurable.
Consultancy work continues to adapt and change, reinventing itself to become the market maker and builder of the new economy. “The traditional business model of management consulting is dead,” says David Hosking, partner at Accenture. “The days of relying solely on management fees from clients are not sustainable. Today’s CEOs want shared financial risk and long-term relationships, which give their companies access to skills. Companies expect consultants to be business partners and take actions jointly.”
So how are consultancies moving forward and adapting to new strategies? Large consultancies like Accenture are building network of businesses to meet the full range of client needs – consulting, technology, outsourcing, alliances and venture capital.
“In the future, ?consulting’ will be only proportion of the business,” says Hosking. “It’s currently 80 percent of our business. In five years it will be significantly smaller percentage, but still substantially larger than it is today, with AC Ventures and an expanding network of operating businesses.”
Taking risks together is point echoed by other large consultancies. “In the past, consultancies advised their clients and implemented new systems. Now we are required to add joint venturing as well as supply resources and knowledge,” says Kevin McCaffrey, at PricewaterhouseCoopers. “In New Zealand the gap is widening between the boutique firms and the global consultancies, which can provide large amounts of capital as well as skills and systems. It is becoming bit of wasteland in the middle.”
Ralph Marshall, service line leader for management solutions at Deloitte Consulting, believes that the pace of change in business today means there is no room for making missed turn. “There is no catch-up period now which puts tremendous pressure on companies to keep ahead of their competitors at all times.” And, of course, to seek out help from the “experts”.
Ever vigilant of its own marketing Deloitte recently gave seminar called “Thrive or Die” in Albany, Auckland to prospective new clients. Like other large financial organisations with business consultancy arms (Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers) Deloitte Consulting uses leverage off its international brand name and employs specialists across wide range of skills. It also has the resources to maximise face-to-face marketing and push its philosophy, which spins around strong branding. How do smaller consultancies in New Zealand market themselves?
Some consultancies use direct mail with repeated benefits and follow-up phone calls but all agree that word of mouth and track record are crucial. Selwyn Bradley, at Bradley and Associates, says “Word went around that we handled change and strategic planning project for the Super Liquor Group. This brought our next big change project for Cerebos Gregg’s (CGL) and the Robert Harris brand. The clear differential was the hands-on approach seeking workable commercial platform that both parties could work with. We took on the project in the role of independent facilitator between the corporate (CGL) and the franchises.”
As well as hands-on approach Bradley also keeps things initially low-key and invites his prospective clients to meet in cafes or, if they prefer, he visits their homes.
“It gives us the chance to eyeball each other without the formality of boardroom setting.”
Taking up references is another way clients can check on consultancy. John Eatwell, director southern region of Saville & Holdsworth, says references are more often sought in Wellington as primarily public city, unlike in Auckland and Christchurch where most of the projects are for the private sector and therefore more vulnerable to problems.
“My advice to people looking for consultant is not to assume competence. Reference check any project consultancy has done – on quality, implementation, behavioural transfer and billing. Interview consultant for competence as well as how well you think you could work with them.”

Working with the consultant
As with any professional, there is tension between over specifying the project (and excluding better solution they may have) and understanding project and then receiving such divergent proposals that you can’t compare them. Eatwell uses an apt analogy: “Just as it is limiting if doctor only tells you the answer to your question when what you really needed to know was the range of questions in the first place.”
Eatwell suggests you meet with all the consultants you want to include and discuss how they would solve the problem. Then tender out the preferred approach to all the consultants you think you could work with. If it is big project it may even pay to get another consultancy to evaluate the proposals. His tips for managing the consultant once hired are: ask for project plan; ask who will be doing the project and keep them to it; ask for regular progress meetings; ask what quality procedures are in place; ask to review quality review documentation.

Managing mistakes
Naturally mistakes happen, and there are many colourful stories of clients spending fat wads of money on consultants only to discover the project is deeply flawed. The client then seeks out another consultant in desperation.
Vagueness in the brief is often part of the problem. Eatwell recalls how one company had asked for proposal for selecting new CEO with no specification of how they wanted it done. “A variety of consultancies proposed their preferred approach. An out of town consultancy was selected on having good approach but ultimately cost the company more for something that could have been delivered just as effectively by local consultancy.
Money was wasted on travel costs and the added distance meant it inhibited tight project management.”
Another pitfall for clients to be aware of is the necessity of being able to deal with project after the consultant has finished and left. good consultant, one who has the client’s best interests clearly in mind, will ask someone from the client’s company to join the project team.
“It is vital that when doing project we must be able to transfer their knowledge and provide clear way forward after they leave,” says Ralph Marshall. By using consultants instead of the client’s own people, the client is taking away developmental opportunities for them, which is another reason why skills transfer is important.
One of the biggest areas of growth in business consultancy is within the field of technology. Filecorp specialises in how records are managed and how emails are stored and analysed. Technology is an enabler, tool, and not an answ

Visited 9 times, 1 visit(s) today
Close Search Window