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Best Proven Techniques to Position and Prioritize Your Consulting Needs and Find the Right Consultants


“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.” – Stephen R. Covey

Prioritization is the key to understanding and solving the needs your organization faces. And we have a few proven and powerful tips on evaluating your situation to help you prioritize your needs.
1. Your ideal provider according to 6 key markers –
We discussed in our previous blog post the necessity of defining your key markers; now you can start positioning your ideal company on different dimensions. Depending on the context of your project, and the expected results, you can define where on these dimensions, your potential providers need to be. For instance, a small IT company based in Tunisia wants to enter a new market: Fintech. They are curious about understanding the value chain and identifying opportunities for their company.

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They have identified six key markers for potential suppliers:

Capability: The consulting provider needs to have experience in market entry and growth strategy.
Industry Experience: The consulting provider they need has a broad knowledge of the Fintech industry, and the major trends internationally and regionally.
Footprint: They are looking at a company based either in North Africa or in Europe to limit the additional expenses and get access to high-level expertise.
Budget: The Company has a small budget for the diagnosis part. They are looking at an independent consultant or a very small boutique.
Delivery Model: The Company is building a new structure. They want a high-level strategic approach integrating the internal and external political aspects. They also want their team to learn more about Fintech in the process.
Culture: They are looking for consultants that can speak either Arabic or French and have experience working in North Africa.

You will very rarely find a perfect match to this ideal Consulting “DNA profile”.
However, it’s the best starting point to search for the next best match for a project.

2. Prioritization of your needs – the effective approach –
Prioritization is different and unique to every company and every project. The project sponsor and the project manager have probably an idea of what is more important to them. Is it skill over industry knowledge? Or culture over footprint? Budget over skills?
Understanding the priority for each dimension will help you narrow down your list of potential providers. With both the markers, the ideal position on each marker and the level of priority for each dimension, you will be able to draw an “Ideal Consulting DNA Profile” for your project.
3. Finding the best match – Internal or External sources –
When you know what you are looking for, you can start searching for the right fit.
As you focus on building the right team of experts, it can be tempting to source external consultants directly. But we wouldn’t be doing our job right if we didn’t encourage you to perform a short make-or-buy assessment of your project.
Can your project be done in-house? Do you have the right resources? Do you need external knowledge? Is there some confidential IP involved? Can the project be partially outsourced?
These questions are particularly relevant if you have internal consulting or improvement/excellence teams.
There are several tools you can use to start your search.
Internal Sources

Your Company might already have a List of Preferred Providers, an internal database of Consulting Firms, or a list of Consulting Firms in your field.
Your network/colleagues that have worked previously with Consultants might have a few recommendations (or warnings).
You may have a database of evaluation reports or previous bids where you can find some interesting information.

External Sources

A Directory of Consulting firms, such as the Consulting Quest Directory that organizes Consulting firms per region, capability and industry served.
Articles and books written on the field you are interested in
A List of professional associations in your industry or in the capability you need
A plain and simple Google Search (or Qwant or DuckDuckGo searches)

Don’t hesitate to use several sources to find new experts. And don’t forget to assess each company based on your criteria even if you have worked successfully with them previously or found them a little short on a previous proposal.
4. Building a preliminary List of potential players –
Your first step is to build a preliminary list of potential players. The size of your project will impact the length of your list. For instance, if you have to source a mid-sized project and you are aiming to compare three potential providers, you should include roughly fifteen to twenty companies in your first search. 
Once your list is ready, you can contacting the companies to make sure they are indeed a god fit. As a rule of thumb, you should consider 30% of the companies that don’t have the right Consulting “DNA Profile” and 30% that are not available or interested in the project.
The next step is to identify among the potential players the three providers that are the best fit with your criteria and start the RFP process. 

Ready to get started on your next project?
Need a fresh point of view?
We will be happy to help. Please give us a call today, at no obligation.
Let’s get the conversation started

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How to Successfully Manage a Consulting Project in 6 Essential Steps


“I get just as excited about building a birdhouse as when providing a strategic counsel to a client.” – Robert L.Peters

Since the dawn of the Industrial revolution, Consultants have helped in creating some of the most ambitious and innovative projects around the world. Have you heard of the Marmaray Tunnel in Turkey? An underwater railway tunnel that connects the European and the Asian parts of Istanbul? The project costs $4.5B and took 9 years to complete. What about the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, in China? This impressive 16-mile bridge and tunnel structure, includes two small artificial islands too, in order to provide support to the construction.
Regardless of how big your Consulting project is, it’s necessary to use the best methods and approach in managing it.

How to Successfully Manage a Consulting Project in 6 Essential Steps:

When you are buying services, and in particular intangible services like consulting, the bulk of the work comes after the procurement process has ended. You have to monitor and manage the outcomes of the project, but also the project itself. Indeed, consulting projects very rarely play out as planned

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1. Get organized to manage your project
Managing a consulting project is first and foremost managing a project. The same principles apply. To maximize the chances of success of your project, you will need to manage these three elements:

Stakeholders – This is project management 101. Align the stakeholders to make sure they will support the project and collaborate with the project team and the consultants.
Project – You need to put in place the best practices for project management: define the work plan, clarify the roles and responsibilities, and put in place a clear governance.
Change – Always obvious, but more often overlooked, change management is a key success factor for consulting projects. Anticipate the resistance to change in the teams impacted by the project and define strategies to address each situation.

2. Monitor the performance
Don’t wait until the end of the project to evaluate the performance and share your results with the consultants. The reasons for low performance can be multiple and simultaneous. It could come from the Consulting Firm (capabilities, skills, experience, staffing, etc.) or your teams (low priority, staffing, etc).
In any case, it is best to sit down with the Consulting Firm to discuss and understand the issue and find solutions together.

3. Manage the Consulting contract
When you are working with external consultants, you also have to manage the relationship. First, you will have to track the changes in the project that can touch scope, staffing, timeline or unforeseen events. When these changes are substantial, you should consider amending the contract. In any case, keep a trace of the changes in the minutes of the Steering Committees.
For very large projects, you should consider organizing a formal mid-project review. You can cover both the changes to the statement of work and the quality of the outcome. It should not prevent you from checking-in regularly with the Consulting Firm to anticipate potential slips in the project scope and timeline, and allow your provider to fix the problem.
Consider the consulting firm as your partner with a common objective: the success of your project. Be unbending on the quality of the outcomes. Give them feedback on their performance and visibility on payments.
4. Wrapping up – Anticipate and prepare for when the Consultant departs
Maybe you have prepared the transition from the start (in other words, in your RFP), and included the transition plan and regular check-ins in the deliverables. If that’s not the case, make sure to prepare for when the consultant leaves.
Once you have decided what recommendations you will act on, you have to organize for how you will act. You should also consider the transfer of knowledge in particular if the project implemented a new organization or technology. And you should define this plan with the consultant at hand.
Prepare the performance assessment for the Consulting Firm by gathering the information collected along with the project.
5. Don’t hesitate to end the contract earlier
Sometimes Consulting Projects have to be closed earlier than expected. Many changes can happen between the moment you decide to work with consultants and the end of the consulting projects.
The context can change or the management team. If that’s the case, continuing the project as it is might just be a loss of energy and money. Always find ways to adapt the scope to your needs. And terminate the contract if you must, and if the consequences will be acceptable.
6. Close the project neatly
Whatever the reason for terminating the project early, don’t rush into it. Take the time to analyze the impact of the termination and the probability of success of another consulting project. Prepare also what to communicate with your teams involved in the project.
At that point, you should have paid the consulting provider based on the delivery, and accrued the budget until the end of the project.
Keep the last invoices on your desk until you are sure that the project is delivered in full. That will give you enough leverage to get back to finish the project.
When you think the project is closed, and the invoices are approved for payment, you can take the time to debrief the consultants on their performance on the project.

Ready to launch a Consulting project?
Need a fresh perspective?
We will be happy to help. Please give us a call today, at no obligation to you.

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Challenges of Open Innovation and How Consulting Can be a Catalyst for Open Innovation


“For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate.” – Margaret Heffernan

Open innovation is the use of purposive inflows and outflows of knowledge to accelerate internal innovation, and expand the markets for external use of innovation, respectively.
Beyond the extended role given to R&D, the concept also requires a contribution for all stakeholders in the company. Rendering the innovation process much more collaborative and guess what … open.
As we discussed in a previous blog post, the main sources of Open Innovation are:

Academia – universities, labs, and research centers
Customers, Suppliers and Business partners – their unmet needs, issues, and suggestions for product improvements
Industry Groups and Professional Associations where sharing of thought leadership and newest developments, is happening.

Optimize your Consulting Spend

Consultants are selling their time, or more precisely, the access to expert knowledge and execution workforce during a certain period. The potential of production of a Consulting firm is the amount of time available for billing. Every day not billed is lost, just like an empty airplane seat.

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And now here are some of the new challenges:
– Implementation of Open Innovation –
Recent reports revealed that about 80% of organizations are engaged in some kind of open innovation. But only a few would qualify those efforts as successful
– Balancing Act –
Cooperation of large companies & small start-ups. It’s a known fact that many small companies have reservations about Open Innovation collaboration with large corporations. It’s a matter of building trust and identifying common interests and mutual benefits.
The Virtual Technology Cluster (VTC) Group program provides a complementary platform for all existing accelerators, incubators, Academic programs, etc. as we focus primarily on connecting the innovation within each VTC to revenue.
– The Benefits of Curated Innovation –
The VTC Group attempt to take a much more curated approach to innovation. They aim to provide companies with a customized ecosystem of startups, academics, and government agencies to help bring the latest innovations that are happening in their field.
This curation process is crucial as there are considerable, and often unforeseen costs involved with open innovation.

How Can Consultants Become a Catalyst of Open Innovation for Your Organization? 
The outside world offers a plethora of opportunities in using Consultants as your “agent” in successful Implementation of Open innovation.
– Facilitating collaboration between large and small companies – Here is a challenge that both large and small companies face –  Large companies are often struggling to explore disruptive ideas as they focus on their core business. Small companies can be fast and agile in developing new ideas, but often struggle bringing these to the market as they lack the means and capability to do do, but if you find ways to combine their resources, the results can be quite interesting!
– Act as your sparring partners –
It can be beneficial to keep the line of communication open with a limited set of partners and bounce ideas as sparring partners. Besides, in those conversations, you manage what you want to disclose or not.
Last, when it comes to getting ideas, don’t underestimate the power of your procurement processes. Leveraging RFIs (Requests For Information) is a way to gather some elements before launching a full-fledged project.
Obviously, some RFIs have to turn into projects at some point. Otherwise, consultants could see it as brain picking, and the source and quality of what you gather will dry.
– Being a source of ideas –
As one of the senior partners from a large consultancy puts it: “We were developing the big idea and selling it.” Consultants were pitching strategy ideas and helping to bring them to fruition.
Today projects have evolved in sizes and shapes, but the scheme where consultants are pitching their ideas remain.
Consultants are also screening and processing a huge amount of information to stay current in their industry of specialization. With the emergence of dynamic start-up ecosystems, consultants have also started to maintain a mapping of the most recent and relevant ones. Oliver Wyman produces on a regular basis an interesting mapping of the start-ups in the procurement field.
– Facilitating innovation task forces –
If you are re-inventing your business or a business unit, the first step will be to help you determine what you expect from your innovation but also what are the limits that you are placing for the exercise.
Facilitation can be very useful to create the conditions to spur innovation. You can find in the market all kind of facilitation services. It ranges from the innovation consulting firms to futurists, that can help you project yourself a few years down the road, taking into account megatrends and technological progress to look at what the future holds. 
– Connecting you with third parties –
New technologies have made it possible to leverage the power of crowdsourcing. Companies like Innocentive and Nine Sigma, for instance, are pioneers in crowdsourced innovation. They help companies to define the problem they are trying to solve. They then organize challenges that can be internal to the company or leveraging their huge network of experts. They can also create specific galleries where clients are exposing their main challenges for experts to solve.
Beyond Crowdsourcing, consulting firms have experience with multiple customers on the same subjects but through different angles. They can also help establish connections when discussions between their clients would prove valuable and beneficial.

If your organization aspires to grow, you need to incorporate open innovation, build an innovation machine or innovate in your operations. The right consultants can be the catalysts you need to spur your innovation. To find out how we can help you, please connect with us today to discuss further.

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Focus on Latam & the Caribbean (South America) – Top 6 Trends You Need to Know About


“”If you don’t have a dog, you hunt with a cat.” – Portuguese saying

Innovation, improvisation, and creativity, as you will learn in the article below, can help Brazil lift its economy out of crisis, and provide an export boost as well.
The Latin America, or Latam, and the Caribbean region are dynamic markets having their own specifics. Let’s take a look at the main trends shaping up the region.
1. Steady recovery of the whole region as the economy transforms-
The Latam economy is heavily dependent upon commodity prices, making it cyclical or at least volatile. After a period of economic expansion, the region just faced a major crisis. With commodity prices recovering, Brazil remains the economic giant of the region. Growth is expected to be slightly above 2% in the coming years, just like Mexico and Argentina. Caribbeans are expecting some uplift from the post-hurricane reconstruction. The fastest growth in the region will likely come from the Andean Region and Central America, thanks to private consumption and international investments.

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2. Main Economic sectors driving the recovery –
With leading companies in Banking, Telecommunications, and Energy, the services sector represents two third of the GDP. There are also major industrial companies in Automotive, Aerospace, Consumer Products, and Chemicals driving significant investments from international companies. Mexico, given its proximity to the US, is mainly benefiting from an industrial integration, provided tariffs do not impact the current equilibrium. The Agriculture sector provides a wide range of resources from sugarcane to soybean or oranges, both for local consumption and export.
3. New and Modernized Infrastructure Expansion –
Local governments aim to reduce dependency on commodities and accelerate growth. They are set to expand high-value activities that will translate into infrastructure programs, easier access to capital, and promotion of digital and automation.
4. Reinvigorated Consulting market expanding and consolidating –
The Latin America consulting market is exiting the crisis looking entirely different while still growing at 6%. The market size is estimated at 3B$ with Brazil representing about half of the total. South Cones countries are experiencing the highest growth on a smaller basis.
In this unstable economic environment, Management Consulting Firms in the past years have been struggling to sustain revenue growth. As one can expect in case of a financial crisis, the late focus has been on taking out costs and increasing productivity.

5. The Brazilian “Brand” Can Thrive through Export As Well –
In Brazil, the management consulting industry is growing at 7%. The demand for financial, energy, operational efficiency, and digital consulting services is on the rise to cut costs and improve efficiency.
An interesting perspective on the specificity of the Brazilian brand was published in Forbes magazine recently. Brazil has a vibrant Creative sector which includes industries such as fashion, retail, music, film, art scene, books, and media. Brazil’s creative sector now employs 5.5% of Brazilians, engaged in related fields, accounting for 320,000 companies and millions of new jobs. For comparison, the agriculture sector employs 15% of Brazilians, but is rapidly shrinking. Agriculture accounts for 5.6% of Brazil’s GDP, while creative industries generate 2.6% – exhibiting a nearly 70% increase in the last decade. Today music, film and online media are growth sectors in Brazil, with music alone representing a $246 million industry, and both digital and physical sales continue to rise, despite the uncertain economy.
The Brazilian government has also shown support for the Creative Economy sector and has established an organization (“Creative Economy Secretariat) to specifically develop these endeavors. With more than 11 million Brazilians employed in the creative sector, lawmakers, strategists, and investors are expected to get more involved and provide sufficient backing.
6. Andean Region Shows Steady Growth –
The market in the southern cone is expected to grow at a high single-digit rate driven by the demand of the energy sector. Andean Countries with the growing linkage between Chile, Columbia, and Peru represent growth opportunities for international companies. Demand in Caribbean Countries is driven by HR, Organization Development and IT strategy leveraging in most cases local consultants. Financial services represent the main growth area for non-local companies.
Market demand for consulting in the region comes from a blend of large and mid-size companies. The region is open to new ways of working. As a result, demand from mid-sized firms has been significantly growing over the last years demonstrating a cultural shift.  Also, the industry is highly fragmented with less than 30% of revenues generated by Large Consulting Firm.
As a direct consequence, we see a wave of consolidation in financial services, energy, and healthcare. The large players are making a significant investment with the creation of dedicated units in Mexico, Columbia, Chile, and Brazil.

If you like to get a fresh perspective on your next Consulting project and find the best candidates, we are here to help!
Please contact us today for more information.

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How Africa is Transforming Itself, the Top 5 African Economies to Watch in 2019 and the consequences for Consulting in Africa


“He who thinks he is leading and has no one following him is only taking a walk.” – Malawian proverb

Africa as a continent rich in resources, cultural diversity, and with its young population, has all the potential to grow economically at a satisfactory rate, provided it has progressive leadership and more political stability.
Management Consulting in that sense, can play an important role in providing needed expertise to companies and organizations in the region, hungry to grow and develop further.
Economically the region is growing at a good rate, and it also represents an interesting Consulting market; however it is a challenging market too, and its growth varied significantly in the recent years.
Let’s briefly discuss the main economies of Africa today –

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Modest Economic Growth Projected at 3% –

Africa is expected to grow around 3% pulled by the strong performance of the region’s largest economies, Nigeria and South Africa, and higher growth of Sub-Saharan Countries. Growth in the region will heavily rely on natural resources both in oil & gas and mining. Countries lacking natural resources will fuel their growth engine with agriculture and government-sponsored infrastructure investments.

Unstable and Moderate Consulting Market –

Africa is considered complex geography for Consulting given the volatility of commodities, political instability and still a strong dependency on foreign investments. Consulting remains essentially delivered by Western Consultancies. Even though they learn to adapt to local needs, they keep focusing on large clients and governments. The African market will have to develop further its local consultancies to support its private sector ecosystem.
The market is concentrated in a few countries and a small number of clients. It is also estimated at $10 billion –
Heavily tilted towards larger countries such as Nigeria and South Africa, the market posted a growth slightly north of those Economies GDP at 5%.
Demand for Consulting in Nigeria comes primarily from financial services. New regulations in the mobile and telecommunication sectors are also driving demand to support the efforts.
In South Africa, key industries are financial services, retail, and consumer goods.
Ethiopia leads growth and demand in Eastern Africa with projects to build infrastructure and industrialize the country.

In North Africa, Morocco is positioning itself as a hub for European business. The country is creating designated economic areas north of Casablanca, and attracting quite a volume of consulting projects in the process.
The SMART Africa initiative validated by all head of states and governments of all the 53 countries represented at the Assembly of the African Union is expected to contribute to economic growth and job creation in Africa through ICT’s. As a direct consequence, Digital projects are flourishing all across the continent.
3. Economic Growth Drivers –
According to McKinsey Global Institutes, African economies should benefit from new technologies, avoiding the liability of existing infrastructures.
Mobile technologies, Cellular, Internet of Things, and also Digital marketplaces will flourish with an expected growth of 25% in the next years.
4. Key Industries –
Moving forward, several sectors need to develop fast to support regional growth.

Financial services – Most countries continue to carry on reform and adapt their tax and customs. They also work to provide easier access to banking and capital markets.
Energy – Access to energy and utilities, particularly electricity, is needed to spur business growth.
Education – The region needs to prepare the workforce with the right skills by providing access to education to a larger part of the population. 

5. Africa’s Top 5 Fastest Growing Economies in 2018 –
And here is a List of the 5 fastest growing economies in Africa in 2018.

Ethiopia (8.5%) – 107 million population.

The economic champion of Africa 2018 is Ethiopia. It’s no secret that Ethiopia’s economy is booming and its growth has been steady at eight to eleven percent for over ten years now.
One of the key aspects that propel Ethiopia’s economy is its booming industry. The impressive GDP growth is due to sectors such as manufacturing, construction, and electricity.
And with an expected even further improvement in the agricultural and industrial growth, the projected GDP growth in the first quarter of 2019 is the whopping 10.65%.
They are also leading active economic reforms to attract foreign investments. Ethiopia and the Western Sub Saharan Countries should be the fastest growing economies, with an above 7% growth according to IMF. Ethiopia pursues its strategy of infrastructure development and industrialization targeting exports. Senegal, Ghana, and Cote d’Ivoire rely on a combination of agriculture and energy.

Ivory Coast (7.4%) – 25million population

When it comes to GDP figures, this country is undoubtedly one of the most stable countries in Africa, with its 5.17% average growth rate that covers a huge period of about for to five decades. With a strong Energy sector, Cote d’Ivoire has maintained a solid and predictable GDP growth that places it among the top performing countries, not only on the continent but in the world. Do you know that Ivory Coast is one of the biggest exporters of raw cashew nuts, coffee, palm oil, and cocoa?

Tanzania (6.4%) – 55 million population

Another African country with strong economic growth, Tanzania is located in the eastern part of the African continent. An interesting fact about the country is one of the youngest populations in the world, with 28 million people or roughly 45% of the population, under 25. Tanzania’s growth is around six to seven percent which is due to Industries such as Mining, Communications, Construction, and trade.

Ghana (6.3%) – 29 million population

Due to its oil and gas production, this West African country’s economy grew at a rate of 8.5% in 2017, but it has slowed down since. Ghana’s positive economic outlook can be attributed to its natural resources and mostly to its booming oil production.

Niger (5.1%) – 20 million population

The African Development Bank projects steady economic growth for Niger, at a 5.2% in 2019. That’s mainly due to the oil and agricultural sectors, as a direct result of the expected decent amounts of rainfall. But the country has to deal with issues in foreign investments, lack of proper security and insufficient infrastructure

Are you planning to launch a new Consulting project in Africa? Interested in getting an expert opinion on managing your project? Please feel free to contact us, to see how we can help you.

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6 Great Advantages of the Gig Economy That Will Affect the Future of Independent Consultants


“The gig economy is empowerment. This new business paradigm empowers individuals to better shape their own destiny and leverage their existing assets to their benefit.” – John McAfee

Whether you are a fan of the Gig economy or not so much, these trends are here to stay. There are a number of reasons to embrace the Gig economy mainly for the freedom and flexibility it brings to both Clients and Contractors, but there are also downsides to it, such as ethics or regulation issues.
Let’s take a closer look at the Consulting industry.
Disruptions in the Consulting Value Chain are creating interesting new opportunities.
One of the more notable changes due to disruption in the Consulting value chain today is the demand for very specialized expertise. And when such talent and resources are not available at the right location or at the right time, Clients are eager to hire talent per project basis. 

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The freelance platforms offer plenty of choices, in addition to new partnerships forged between firms that would not have collaborated in the past, are now more willing to share risks and benefits.
The Gig economy has opened a completely new set of substitutes to traditional players. They can be clustered into four categories: Professors, Platforms, Integrators, and Networks.
If you are familiar with the genesis of consulting boutiques, you have probably noticed that a significant number of them were created by famous academic professors:

Michael Porter created Monitor
John Kotter creator the Kotter Inc.
David Nadler created the Delta Consulting Group
Clayton Christensen created Innosight
Dr Michael Watkins created Genesis

The pattern here is quite simple, professors are teaching executives, executives want to get support on their projects, and professors create consulting boutiques to offer consulting services. Today, with or without a dedicated consulting boutique in their name most MBA professors are also offering freelance consulting services to support the executive population wishing to benefit from their expertise on specific projects.

6 Great Advantages of the Gig Economy and the Future for Independent Consultants –

Growing Number of Independent Workers –

According to McKinsey, independent workers now make up to 30% of the working population in the US and EU, or approximately 162 million people. For better or worse, innovation and flexibility also come with a “price tag” of a certain amount of instability, legal and financial security as well, in general. But we should differentiate between the two main groups of freelance workers: the lower-end  (such as Uber drivers, TaskRabbit workers, and various other Contractors) and at the higher-end of the spectrum, or Gig consultants, who are offering niche expertise and are redefining today’s role of consultants. Consulting clients are slowly adopting this new model but the disruption will only grow over time on specific niche consulting projects.

Prospects for the Gig Consultant – 

When PwC launched its “PwC Talent Exchange” initiative in 2016, they boosted the legitimacy of Independent consulting. The online work intermediation platform finds independent professionals with relevant expertise and hires them on internal PwC projects. It was also a strong sign that the traditional consulting model of keeping a permanent talent, was changing. The biggest drive for such change where the firm’s clients and their evolving needs for more specialized skills. With time, we might see other big firms creating similar initiatives. Consulting Quest launched in 2018 a teambuilder to give access for consulting firms that do not have the critical mass of a big 4 to a vetted population of experienced consultants as team members. 

Higher Incomes – 

According to a McKinsey report (from 2016)  75% of surveyed Gig consultants were making more or the same amount of money than they did in their previous traditional roles. That proves that flexibility and independence don’t mean working for a lower paycheck. Great example include consulting platforms such as Go Catalant, CoMatch, Talmix, Business Talent Group, where thousands of professionals, users of the platform can charge very fair rates. For the clients this does not rhyme with higher fees as you can remove the cost of expensive offices in central Manhattan or the 8th arrondissement in Paris and the 30% returns expected by the shareholders. 

New Opportunity for the Aging Workforce –

Baby Boomers’ generation looking towards retirement might find great opportunities in the new Gig Consulting economy as well. Many experienced professionals are putting their decades of knowledge into good use today by being hired as advisors. This can also benefit clients looking for experience rather than the schoolbus from major consultancies. Think about Robert de Niro in the intern and skip the question about career expectations during the interview.

Digital Freelance Platforms Make Hiring Easy – 

The most visible development in recent years has been the blossoming of dozens of marketplaces proposing access consulting services. We have identified 40 different marketplaces ranging from horizontal marketplaces offering all kinds of services, to vertical ones with a specific focus on consulting. They provide access to a very large pool of independent consultants distributed across the globe. Those resources can be perfect for small to medium size projects or interim assignments to reinforce teams during periods with peaks in activity. An intriguing alternative to large consultancies, those marketplaces in recent years have raised millions of dollars from venture funds. Interesting to note that even when Clients need a team combining several competencies distributed across the globe,  a company like A-connect have that covered. They act as integrators, helping you, leverage their network of freelance consultants to select a team that will have all the competencies you need and to organizes them as an integrated team.

Global Network of Consultants –

An alternative to freelance marketplaces and integrators is the utilization of Global Networks of Consultants. Those Networked consultancies like Eden McCallum, 2PS or ICG, have been created with three ideas in mind directly addressing the limitations of the independent consultant model:

Ability to work “a la carte”: flexibility in the organization of their workload and focus on projects they are interested in
Possibility to be part of a team reducing the feeling of isolation that can be daunting when you are alone in your solo consulting practice and connecting you with people of similar interests
Access to a brand that will increase customers confidence and provide a flow of inbound opportunities

For clients those networked organizations provide a greater confidence in the quality of the consultants as they perform a continuous assessment of their members.Clients today have an abundance of opportunities to source talent, expertise, and offerings tailored to their specific needs and situations. As these models are still evolving, pivoting and progressively finding their way, we can look at the key elements that make them a great proposition.

If you are considering hiring or trying to get hired, and need our assistance, please contact us at your earliest convenience.
We will be happy to find the best solution in your particular situation.

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Global Economic Trends, Top Industries Driving the US Economy, the Effect on the Consulting Market


“Ask five economists, and you will get five different answers – six if one went to Harvard. ” – Edgar Fiedler

If we merely follow the projections provided by economists, we should see a significant shift in the balance of power by 2025 in the global market.
Here are a few interesting facts:

Emerging Markets and Developing economies are growing at 2.5X faster rate than Advanced Economies (USA, Euro Area, Japan).
If we take a look back, in 1995 the E7 (China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, Turkey) was half the size of G7 (US, UK, France, Germany, Japan, Canada, Italy) at GDP level.
By 2040, it could be double. Today the two groups are around the same size. Yet consulting in E7 is growing fast but nowhere near the extent it has achieved in the G7 countries.

Know the Consulting Category

If you are trying to get the best and most accurate snapshot of the various degrees of specialization in Consulting today, they are three main types: Generalists, Specialists, and Niche Players.

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And a few interesting questions: 

Is there a cultural tendency to rely more on Consultants in the Advanced Economies?
As most decisions are made in central offices located often in Advanced Economies, is it safe to say more money is being spent on Consultants there?
Are organizations in Advanced Economies spending more on Consulting to keep an edge over competition?

Let us take you on a global tour and explore some regional market specificities along the way
We are heading towards a shift in the balance of powers. The global economic growth is expected to dip closer to 3% in the coming years.
After overtaking UK and France, India will be passing Germany and Japan successively. It seems to be only a matter of time for India and China take the top spots. Investors will soon see Emerging markets presenting the highest GDP growth, as attractive opportunities for international businesses.
As they mature, they will become less attractive for offshore manufacturing but will present B2B opportunities. Next, walking in the steps of China, they will become investors themselves.
Meanwhile, mature economies will continue to experience lower growth as they are forced to deal with this new paradigm.

How does that affect the Consulting market?

When mapping GDP vs. Consulting Growth we can observe a moderate correlation (r= XX). According to Marc Baaji, three factors can help explain the differences across geographies.

The economic development of the region will drive the ability to invest.
The structure of the economy will show what sectors are the most likely to spend in consulting.
The local culture will influence the willingness to work with outsiders.

How major Consultancies define their set of megatrends shaping the future of society and the economy – PWC for example, predicts that despite the volatility of the economy, most of the additional growth will take place in medium-sized cities of developing countries.
Digital revolution is impacting almost every industry and geography. As a result, regional regulators are now trying to place some limits to regain some form of control (think GDPR or internet access in China).
Global Consulting market today – North America and Europe combined represent close to 80% of the consulting market, followed by Asia Pacific, Middle East, Latam, and Africa.
Even though growth is twice as fast in Asia as in North America, the North American Market is roughly three times the size of the Asian one. At the current pace, it will probably take another 30 years for the Asian market to catch-up.
Global market with local players – While most of the clients are, or becoming a part of global corporations, the consulting sector remains scattered.

Preference to work with Local Consultants – Clients tend to appreciate projects delivered by local consultants as they understand local culture easier. In fact, a significant share of consulting projects are performed by teams of 2 to 5 consultants and do not require a global presence or even a global footprint.
North America remains strong and resilient economically
Even though Emerging Economies are catching up, North America remains the largest economy in the world. Spearheaded by the U.S., the region represents close to 25% of the global economy. States in the US such as California, Texas or New York having an equivalent output to the UK, France, Italy or Brazil.
The Economy is at the same time enjoying a robust services sector and an abundant supply of natural resources. We can expect a slight slowdown in the years to come.
Two major trends are impacting the economy durably for the years to come. Unconventional Oil has opened access to low-cost energy. Subsequently, consumers are experiencing cheaper products and lower transportation costs. Digital is transforming almost all industries. New technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and automation are opening endless possibilities.
Top Economic Sectors driving the growth –

Financial Services, far ahead with close to 20% of GDP output.
Government related activities. Including military as well as federal and local expenses.
Health Care, impacted by an aging population and regulatory evolution. There has been a 20% growth in health care sector jobs since 2008, while the average rate for the economy was only 3%. Health care jobs are expected to grow at a rate of 18% from 2016 to 2026.
Technology, reaping the benefits of the Digital wave to go forth. Employment among computer and IT is projected to grow 13% from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Demand for additional workers is stemming from cloud computing, the collection, and storage of big data and information security.
Construction, unexpected fifth, benefiting from a growing population and an increased need for infrastructures. Construction occupations are projected to grow by 11% from 2016 to 2026. The growth is stemming from overall economic and population growth, which is increasing demand for new buildings, roads, and other structures.
Retail, remaining the largest employer of the U.S since it includes both online and brick and mortar stores. 

The largest and most mature consulting market –
Given the strength of its economy, it is no surprise to find North America as the largest market for management consulting. According to most market research firms, the market is estimated at around $100 billion with a CAGR at 4%, slightly higher than GDP.
The US market is by far the largest and represents close to 90% of the North American Market. Canada is about 6%, and Mexico completes the picture. The main activity is concentrated on both coasts with sizeable pockets in the Mid-West and Texas.
From an industry perspective, we can find the sectors leading the GDP as major spenders in Consulting:

Financial Services, facing the same new regulations and Fintech disruption
Healthcare with an energetic Pharma sector and the aftermaths of the healthcare reform
Energy with the consolidation of Energy providers and the Shale Gas opportunities
Media & Technology facing consolidation and high-speed innovation and,

Integration of digital in most services –
IBM, Accenture, Huron and the Big 4 but also McKinsey, BCG and AT Kearney have started supporting their clients in Digital transformation, and more specifically:

Integrating digital into the strategy exercise to elaborate and implement new channels strategies,
Building new business models,
Covering cybersecurity risks
Leveraging digital to increase operations’ efficiency

As you can see, the North American Consulting market is mature and dynamic. It is also the birthplace of many management trends such as Lean and innovation. Being a few years ahead of other markets, North America has also embraced very early the specialization of consulting services. The region shows the largest population of independent consultants in the world and at the same time the consolidation of all services into mammoth global one-stop shops. Without much risk, we can affirm that you can find in North America a company specialized in almost any management issue.

Planning to start a new Consulting project soon? We will be happy to offer you an outside perspective and guide you in the right direction. Please feel free to get in touch and tells us more about your organization and project needs.

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The Specialization Dilemma, Degrees of Specialization, and Differentiation – How to Select the Best Consultant?


If you are trying to get the best and most accurate snapshot of the various degrees of specialization in Consulting today, they are three main types: Generalists, Specialists, and Niche Players. Also Consulting firms vary by business structure, ownership types, areas served, location, and in more dimensions.
Let’s discuss each type in more detail.
As you probably know, Consulting started with a specific focus on manufacturing optimization, then encountered a period of growth on strategy work. The capability dimension was the driver, and the industry served, was a secondary dimension. However, companies are getting more and more specialized. And the industry specialization is becoming a must for a lot of clients.

Create Value Through Consulting

Open innovation is the use of purposive inflows and outflows of knowledge to accelerate internal innovation, and expand the markets for external use of innovation, respectively. Beyond the extended role given to R&D, the concept also requires a contribution for all stakeholders in the company. Rendering the innovation process much more collaborative and guess what … open.

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1. Degrees of Specialization-
There are 3 Main Types of Positioning for consulting firms. And each type has some specific pros and cons

Generalist Consulting Firms offer a vast scope of consulting services. They usually cover most of the matrix Industry vs. Capabilities. … working with almost all industries on topics such as Strategy, Sales&Marketing, Operations, Organization or Finance.
Specialist Consulting Firms are focused on a narrow scope of consulting services. They concentrate efforts and abilities in a limited set of capabilities or industries. For instance, they can specialize in one capability across industries or one industry across capabilities.
Niche players are Consulting Firms that offer a specific service in a particular industry. Contax Partners for instance is a Niche Consultancy focused on Strategy in the Energy Vertical in the Middle East and Africa.

Generalists – Pros & Cons
Their clients can find broad-based knowledge that can adapt flexibly to the client’s needs. They will also realize economies of scale and scope. They often have experience in several industries and capabilities, making them adaptable.
But they sometimes have a superficial knowledge of a given industry or function. It is not uncommon in large Consulting Firms to see the same consultant move from a strategy project in the Financial Services into a operations project in Manufacturing.
Specialists – Pros & Cons
Specialists build knowledge and capabilities at a faster rate than generalist consultants. They keep current on new findings and industry news and understand the competitive pressures within their specialized industry. They tend to see all the issues through their area of expertise, which can be narrow-minded. When working with industry specialists, “Chinese walls” to ensure data confidentiality are more difficult to enforce.

3rd. Niche Player – Pros & Cons
Niche Players know their sector better than Generalist consultants that work in multiple industries and better than Specialist consultants that offer one service in various sectors. But they don’t work well on projects that cross-industry or capability lines. Like Specialist consultants, they see everything through their expertise prism and might not come up with out-of-the-box ideas.
2. Business Structure – Hybrid vs. Pure Consulting players
If you step back one level, you can observe that Consulting is not always the only service provided. Pure Players are companies that only provide Consulting Services. Most major consulting firms such as McKinsey, BCG, Bain & Company, and Oliver Wyman, can be considered pure players. Hybrid companies offer consulting services on top of their primary business. They can be providing services in Audit, Legal, Accounting or Systems. Famous Hybrid Companies are Deloitte (Audit and Tax), EY (Audit and Tax), PWC (Audit and Tax), Accenture (Systems), and Huron Consulting (Systems).
Pure Players – Pros & Cons
They are specialized Consultants that master project management, deliverables, and problem-solving skills. They might have an understanding of the company limited to their scope of skills.
Hybrids – Pros & Cons
They offer integrated solutions from advisory to implementation. They are often less expensive than pure players of the same size. They leverage their high-level relationships to cross-sell. They are sometimes pushing services where they are not the best. There can also be some conflicts of interests. Digital is now rising and becoming a must of any company strategy. Most consulting firms are either embedding digital capabilities or developing digital ecosystems. Accenture is particularly active on this front. In the same way, former pure IT players are now acquiring consulting firms as a way to spur their IT activities. In the 90’s, EDS had pioneered this move in acquiring AT Kearney. But the partnership never really delivered and ATK leaders struck a management buy-out ten years later. In recent years, a good example would be the series of acquisitions performed by IBM. Or the acquisition of Innosight by Huron.
3. Other Dimensions & Differentiation –
Beyond the expertise area of a company, other factors will help you to understand what you can expect from a given company.
Size & Geographic Footprint
Size and footprint are usually quite correlated. Consulting is still a business where people sell to people. Thus if you want to grow, at some point you need to scale and open offices in new geographies. Similar to other industries, the footprint of a company is important. For Consulting Services, it can impact the ability to understand local ways of doing business. Besides the original location of your consulting team weight heavily on the travel expenses budget. Imagine a team commuting to Singapore from Germany for six months.
Global Consulting Firms – Pros & Cons They know how to navigate an international environment and can serve their clients in several countries.Particularly interesting for projects requiring on the ground presence all over the globe. They often work with regional P&Ls, which means they may try to optimize their regional utilization rate rather than bring the best global team in front of the client. Global presence, brand, and scale usually come at a cost.
Local Consulting Firms – Pros & Cons You are getting the partners you deal with anywhere you need them. Can be exactly what you need from a culture standpoint for local projects. If travel is required, you will need to add a premium for travel expenses. Might be lacking some clues to mesh with the local culture when working abroad.
Ownership Structure
Majority of Consulting firms are structured as partnerships, like law firms. The organization structure is based on a little group of equity partners, often “rain-makers,” that bring in the clients and the projects. The traditional career path is to climb the internal ladder before making it to partner after usually 10 to 15 years. You will find in this category blue chip players like McKinsey or BCG as well as most boutique consultancies. However, as they grow (and often get acquired), more and more consulting firms go public, are owned by larger traditional companies or by other service companies developing a consulting branch. Being a Partner in this case mostly describes the role and seniority of individuals. Last but not least, it’s important to mention the services delivery model.
Delivery Model
There are two main categories of Delivery models:

“Study and Recommend” – it can be performed remotely, with a limited number of interactions.
“Teach and Facilitate” – this requires a presence on the ground. And the fees tend to be quite different as well, as it requires a fuller involvement

With this information you can now establish a rather good profile of any consulting firm. That will help you appreciate the potential fit with your project’s needs and your teams.

Planning your next Consulting project?
We will be happy to offer you an objective point of view, and any assistance you might need to launch and execute the project.
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  • Know the Consulting Category
  • Source Consultants
  • Optimize your Consulting Spend
  • Create Value Through Consulting
  • Leverage disruption to create more value through Consulting

Understanding consulting fees to make smarter decisions

You might be nonchalantly asking yourself, why do companies hire Consultants? Great question! To improve a process, to save money, or to get a fresh perspective, but most of all, to get access to very specialized skills that great Consultants can bring in.

Challenges of Open Innovation and How Consulting Can be a Catalyst for Open Innovation

Open innovation is the use of purposive inflows and outflows of knowledge to accelerate internal innovation, and expand the markets for external use of innovation, respectively. Beyond the extended role given to R&D, the concept also requires a contribution for all stakeholders in the company. Rendering the innovation process much more collaborative and guess what … open.