The role of a consultancy has changed dramatically over the past 20 years. Traditionally consulting firms boasted a broad set of talent and skills enabling them to deliver a variety of services. “In the past the key differentiator was that consultants were able to access information that the client could not,” says Seugnet van den Berg, Managing Director at Bizmod. “This is no longer the situation as information and knowledge is now easily accessible to all.”
There is a growing need for a more collaborative design and implementation process. Van den Berg says that there is no doubt that consultancies need to, if they haven’t done so already, move away from the traditional practice of only conceptualising solutions, to implementing solutions with their clients.
Van den Berg identifies four trends affecting the role of consultanices:
Collaboration as opposed to competitiveness – organisations have access to skills and knowledge without having to carry the cost of hiring these individuals permanently. Consultancies no longer carry knowledge exclusively. Now, knowledge is freely accessible to everyone and consultants can no longer engage from a knowledge expert base. A collaborative approach, between the consultant and client ensures that objectives are achieved. Networking and partnerships have become an important part of a successful offering for consultants, as the value is not in what you know, but rather in knowing how to navigate a complex organisation or project and how to implement successfully in a complex organisation. The capability to build is one of navigating complexity whilst remaining pragmatic and delivery orientated.
Granular Transparency – a client’s need for involvement, control, visibility and knowledge transfer in projects is taking higher priority. Drivers for this would be cost control and the need to build internal capacity. This has meant a departure from turnkey solutions exclusively designed and implemented by one large consulting service provider to the client engaging multiple providers to deliver different elements of a solution. This is resulting in greater control on a granular level on the client’s side and forcing transparency between the service providers and the client.
Collaborative approach – consultants need to learn how to listen to a client’s requirements. In most cases the client knows what they want but is unable to structure the work and implement the solution. This has led to a new approach for consultants – listening, collaborating and co-creating.
Implementing rather than designing – a lack of skilled resources has led to an increased need for implementing services rather than design. Increasingly organisations are moving away from implementing large projects that experience low success ratings and instead are moving towards smaller projects that are agile and controlled in nature. The reputation of a consulting firm is no longer based solely on its’ ability to come up with a solution but rather having the expertise to implement in a sustainable way. There is significant effort to establish executive support and user involvement as the need to have the solution work is the priority.
The CHAOS Report revealed that the reasons for project success had changed significantly from 1994 to 2012, with only two of the existing elements still being prevalent: executive support and user involvement. “The report clearly identified the need for team engagement and participation to achieve project success,” says van den Berg.