Business Consulting: A Guide to How It Works and How to Make It Work (Economist Series)
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In the last three decades of the twentieth century, the management consultancy industry grew at a cracking pace, but increased scepticism about the value that consultants genuinely add, combined with the economic slowdown, has made life much tougher for the consulting industry. As firms cut back on consulting services and begin to review the way they use consultants, consulting firms themselves are looking at how they need to change. People are now talking about business consulting rather than management consulting.
Using real examples from a range of private sector firms, public sector organisations, and from the consultants themselves, this book explores the new business consulting world and looks at every element of it with the aim of both helping firms make better use of consultants and showing consultants how they need to adapt and provide their clients a better service.
it could use again in another if a similar solution is required. To achieve this at Aviva, when spending on a project is expected to exceed a certain amount, group purchasing must be notified, so that it can decide on its level of involvement, whether that is helping select the right firm, managing the relationship or evaluating success. “A mistake the purchasing department often makes”, Gotto says, “is to adopt a clas- 38 CLIENT ORGANISATIONS sic procurement process, providing support up to
book came out, but we had already received such powerful, 143 BUSINESS CONSULTING positive feedback that interest in the concept grew essentially by word of mouth, well ahead of the publication date.” One of the unfortunate side-effects of this apparently instant success was to encourage consulting firms to try to repeat it. “Lots of people said gosh, that’s doing well, let’s try to do that too,” says Hammer. “In reality, it’s very much a case of many being called but few being chosen. There
in the consulting industry.” Strength in numbers (2) The second lesson is that consultants have to be able to demonstrate that, having understood the principles, they can apply solutions which work. “Thought leadership does not really carry much weight with us,” said one client interviewed for this book. “Just because someone can write a paper, it doesn’t mean they can do something in practice.” “Thought leadership does have a bearing on whether we choose to work with that firm,” said another,
suppliers to check things are on track. We want to avoid the situation where the consultants have de facto control.” Suppliers, he says, are stoical about this, and most, if not always happily, are prepared to work within the new frameworks. Business managers, the end-users of consultants, have also had to learn that they need to go through a rigorous selection process. “It’s good for a consulting firm to have contacts within Barclays. It means they’re more familiar with the organisation, who to
example, have no way of judging their own outputs. Inputs, in the form of hours worked, is the only way they can measure what they have achieved, even if they have actually achieved little. Central to all the decisions throughout the career path of a consultant (and by extension a firm) is the equilibrium between life and career. For the individual, this may be what guides decisions on moving between firms, taking opportunities within a firm, turning to a more associative form of employment or