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  • Writer's pictureMicha Veen

Why should you use a small specialist consultancy or implementation partner to deliver your strategi

Have you received a your new annual targets to increase your revenue, reduce operational costs or drive real-time reporting? Most senior executives have been going through this on an annual, semi-annual or quarterly basis (or even more frequent). But how do you deliver these requirements effectively, timely and cost efficient…

Many executives start off with obtaining advice through:

  • Their peers (internally or externally),

  • On-line through articles, reviews, assessments, to investigate if there are other similar companies that are going through similar requirements, or

  • Their Big 4 consultancy partners to discuss these requirements.

However, is this the most effective and cost-efficient method to introduce this “transformational” change in your organisation to meet these evolving targets?

In the last 5 years, we have seen many small specialist consultancies appearing that exist of ex-CFO’s, ex-CIO’s or international ex-transformational specialists that are focussed on delivering effective sustainable innovative change through coaching, instead of taking over the transformational process. In my 15+ years as a transformational specialist, working for large global multinationals and large System Implementation partners (SI’s), I have become increasingly convinced that large consulting and SI organisations are no longer the best solution to most clients' challenges.

The large consulting and SI organisations generally provide solid work, as they have been able to attract qualified professionals, work according to high-performing standard processes and have the research capabilities to continuously “innovate” their service offering. However, I have experienced on many occasions that smaller consultancy firms achieve better results due to:

  • Most large consultancy or SI staff is recruited straight-out of university, which result in high-theoretic solution development. These solutions are industry best-in-class or textbook solutions, but have rarely been thoroughly tested or have not been tailored to your organisation. Additionally, staff from large consultancies and SI’s is known to follow standard implementation processes, solid solution development, and other standard processes to deliver your requirements. However, these solutions are rarely aligned with your culture, people skills or deployment approach.

  • Most innovative solutions are created by small specialist consultancies. My assessment of innovative articles or projects that I have worked on, show that over 70% of innovative solutions comes from solo-entrepreneurs, small specialist consulting organisations or highly innovative internal resources. Review the list of the top 100 innovative business thinkers and you'll see that the majority of the consultants on the list are solo-entrepreneurs, run small organisations or are internal experts that simply require hand-holding/ guidance.

  • Small consultancies are used to deliver focussed, tailored solutions due to their experience to adapt to internal and external changes. Most large consultancy organisations use traditional program management methodologies and follow a standard solution development script, which delivers comparable solutions of your competitor. With the global competition, many organisations are looking for a “company unique solution” to allow them to create their USP and get ahead of their competition.

  • Large consultancy or SI organisations have a global reach. Many executives from large multinationals are therefore looking for consultancy or SI organisations that have this similar international presence, allowing them to use their local staff, local experience, etc. However, many leaders and staff of small consultancy organisations have created an international network of specialists, which is often far more intense and experienced than these global consultancy organisations. Additionally, many leaders have worked international and are able to use their hands-on experiences from one country/ business environment into another. Additional, due to the increasing communication technology advances, location has become less important as people can communicate with each other wherever they are located.

  • Entrepreneurial thinking is available in both large and small consultancy organisations, however, in small organisations; you’ll have these “experts” or gurus on your project. In large organisations the entrepreneurial thinkers or gurus are available, but only part-time, or periodically, to provide guidance to their, and potentially your, staff. If you’re looking to have these gurus on your project full-time, you’ll need to spend substantial costs.

  • Large consultancies create multi-year implementation plans to transform your business due to large teams, extensive internal collaboration, etc., resulting in slow adoption of new solutions in your organisation, delivery or final execution. Small consultancies are known for iterative solution development with quick deployment and are focussed on a self-service approach, allowing your staff to continue the transformation themselves.

  • The delivery consultant's success is often not fully aligned with your expectations. Consultants that work for large consultancy organisations, deliver for you and their internal boss. Although there is a continuous focus on delivering what the executive, you, wants, ultimately, his/ her manager will allow the consultant to professionally grow in their organisation. This results in a conflict of interest, when these innovative solutions are delivered.

So, if there are so many reasons why executives should use small consultancy organisations, why are these large organisations still running many of the transformational programs? Here are two program types that still require these large consultancy or SI organisations to come on-board:

  • The transformation program is affecting a multinational global business and requires a large number of international, different functional and cross-solution development skills. On many occasions these large transformational programs require large consultancy teams with 100+ consultants, which all need to work according to a single methodology, approach. As part of this transformation program the executive often looks to appoint a single delivery partner, to reduce the management complexities to deliver with a large number of single independent small consultancies,

  • The executive requires a brand-name consultancy or SI partner due to political reasons or to be seen as making the right innovative solution decisions, e.g. “if Company X says this is the route to take, then it must be the correct route”…

However, more and more executives have realised that they need to accept that effective change is conducted through iterative, continuous change, instead of “Big Bang change” to achieve their goals and targets. This means that small consultancy organisations are far better placed to assist in effectively delivering these evolving innovative changes, due to their international, entrepreneurial experience and delivery effectiveness.

Overall, I have learned that if you have a crucial operational change requirement to meet your “next” target or goal, and are considering to use a large consultancy or SI organisation, please asses your immediate, medium and long-term requirements, as it has been proven time-and-time-again that by partnering with a best-in-class, small consulting organisation, you will achieve your targets and goals far more effectively…

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