Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Modern Consulting vs. Classic Consulting: Part 5 (Summary and Conclusion)

Ok, folks, we're down to the summary and conclusion of my series comparing classic consulting and modern consulting by way of our little thought experiment.

In this post, I'll be summarizing what we spent the last three posts examining and bringing things back full circle to the post that started this series (it's kind of like a flashback episode but without the laugh track).

No need for this today!

Let's start off with a little section I like to call...

Way back in the original post of this series, I'd stated that the company for which I work, BHS Consultants, is an "IT/technology consulting firm"; I'd also stated that this label is a "challenging" one.

By way of comparing and contrasting what I refer to as classic consulting and modern consulting, I set out to define what I meant by the two respective terms with the goal of showing why the label above is a challenging one for my company (which I will finalize in this post).

We compared the two terms by way of a thought experiment, defined as follows:
  1. You are in charge of a large project to implement a new business process that is to be heavily automated.
  2. You have a fixed budget and deadline.
  3. You currently do not have the expertise or staff to undertake and complete the project.
  4. You want to make as big (read: positive) an impression as possible.
We then considered three different options to tackle this project which can be summarized as follows:
  1. Find and take on an internal staff (either full-time or contract) including both SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) and implementors.
  2. Find and contract a knowledgeable consultant to advise on the project and then either field a staff to implement or contract out the work to another firm.
  3. Find and contract a knowledgeable "one-stop shop" that has both the SMEs needed and the manpower to carry out the plan/advice from the SME(s).
Each option is linked below for convenience (I know, I know; I'm just that nice).

Bringing Things Back Full Circle
So now we've seen three different options to address the same situation, all of which have their places.

However, in my experience, when it comes to consulting on technical matters (e.g. as in our thought experiment involving heavy automation)--especially where software and programming is involved--the third option is the one that makes the most sense, both from a time and cost perspective.

Some of you may argue that the above model failed horribly with the outsourcing fiascoes of the 2000s (I'm sure some of you had good experiences, but from my own experience and others I've dealt with, many did not), and that's a topic for another post.  It's difficult to argue with numbers that help your bottom line tremendously ($5/hour for 10 developers? that's tough to beat); however, you get what you pay for, and in many cases, it was either nothing or a product/service of inferior quality.

(Again, I'm not here to bash on every outsourcing venture, but am merely drawing from my own experiences and knowledge.)

But I've also witnessed (and been a part of) many successes with that same model with firms in North America/Europe (some would call it near-sourcing).  When companies see the value we bring with the deliverables we produce, it sinks in with them, and they become hungry for more, which we're only too happy to provide.

So What about That "Challenging Label"?
So why is being called an "IT/technology consulting firm" a challenging label for us?

Because, many times, it sounds like the company is a part of option number two, i.e. in the classic consulting space.  By that definition, BHS Consultants is definitely not a "consulting" firm; however, if you consider option number three, i.e. the modern consulting space, we most certainly do fit the bill.

Explaining those differences and trying to describe the services we can provide is perhaps the most challenging issue we face.  We certainly can't be overly esoteric about what we do, but to list the myriad skills and services we bring to the table would be an invitation to read through a novel!

Can you imagine this as a website?  Yeah, me neither.

Regardless of the challenges, though, we seek to add as much value to our clients as humanly possible.  BHS is extremely passionate about what they do, and I'm no exception. I wouldn't have spent the past decade plus here if I didn't absolutely love what I do.

And while "value" is usually in the form of deliverables (be they tangible or not), we always seek to help educate our clients (and even prospective clients) on the services we provide and the matters in to which they are delving.

Empowering clients to make smart, informed decisions about technology is at the heart of BHS Consulants, and should be at the heart of any IT/technology consulting firm; but being able to help clients actually realize those decisions is where the real value comes in to play.

Ok, there you have it!  We are finally through the entirety of this series!

Thank you for making it this far and reading through (hopefully) all of this series.  I do hope it's been insightful with respect to what I/we do, and with respect to the state of modern consulting.

Please do check us out at bhs-consultants.com (shameless plug, but hey, it's relevant!).

Remember: Both classic consulting and modern consulting have their roles to play in the right situation; but with the ever-expanding role technology plays in day-to-day operations of businesses and the ever-increasing request for plans and advice to be executed and realized, modern consulting will continue to become more and more relevant (and prevalent) by the day.

Thanks once more for your time and patience!

I'll see you on the next post!


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