Ever heard the joke about how consultants ask for the time and take your watch? Or the ten things consultants have in common with “the oldest profession”? Yep, we’ve heard them all. And for those that hire the wrong kind of consultant, they certainly ring true.
As a small company of ICT professionals, one of the most common issues we face is justifying how what we do is somehow ‘better’ than a large multinational consultancy firm. After all, if you’re going to shell out a load of cash to be told how to do things better, you may as well go with one of the big ones, right?
Our response is always: ‘bad consultants make money from their customers, but good consultants make money for their customers.’
When Value Is Measured In ‘Hours’
We like to think of ourselves in the latter category. And while it’s not completely fair to place all large consultancy firms – like Accenture, McKinsey, Avanade, PwC – in the former category; those who have encountered consultants can be forgiven for taking the view that the bigger players simply throw lots of people at a single project often for the sake of it.
Large consultancy firms are comprised of many different individuals with diverse skill sets and areas of expertise. That’s why when a project’s set in motion, often five different specialists will turn up at the same time. The problem is, often they’re not all needed at the same time; but as the firm has assigned them a certain number of hours, they’re contracted to deliver them.
In effect, the promise to provide value is taken on by the consultancy firm – not the individual consultant. This is why so many of us have this negative impression of nosy consultants trying to keep themselves busy and involved in things outside of their remit. They have to; if they want to make up their hours.
For business owners, hiring a big team of consultants can seem to be the right thing to do. And although there’s a single company to deal with and all contact, contracts, invoicing, etc, is streamlined, this might initially take more time. However, by working with a smaller, more niche team, not only can businesses save on costs, they can also get better value, a more personalised service, and greater transparency where activity is concerned.
What We Strive For
As a boutique mobility and ICT consultancy firm when we’re hired, we stay until the job is finished, doing whatever it takes to complete it. It’s not a case of billing for endless hours and expenses; for us the most important thing is taking complete responsibility for what we’re contracted to do.
For example, if we’re engaged to migrate a telephony system to the cloud, our concern isn’t just the technical aspect of the installation. We’re just as focused on helping users and employees understand both the business benefit of what we’re doing, and guiding them on how to operate the new system – whether that means creating resources that a company’s internal communications department can cascade, or working with users one-to-one.
Needless to say, our consultants are more personally engaged with the result a client wants, and to providing better value for the user. Our approach is to work bottom-up instead of top-down: and to harmonise, optimise, and simplify processes – with people in mind. Ultimately, consultancies like ours are only as good as their last job; which means the pressure’s on for us to deliver value in results – not hours – which is where you’ll see true ROI.
Perhaps the big consultancy firms could take a leaf out of our book. Or maybe larger enterprises should consider a wider range of bespoke firms when hiring their next consultancy team.
After all, bigger isn’t always better – and small can be perfectly formed.
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