Consultancies: Three lessons for success in 2022

| 14 December 2021

2021 has proven to be another tough year.

Alongside the ongoing challenges brought about by the pandemic, businesses continue to grapple with factors such as increased digitisation, the sustainability agenda, changing regulations and resource scarcity. But, as the world of work continues to evolve, there’s opportunity for consultancy firms to get ahead by adapting to the changing needs of their clients. So, can we learn from 2021?

Lesson one: It pays to be agile
An agile organisation runs on teams that are organised around different projects or initiatives.

If consultancies have an effective agile workforce plan, then they can react at speed to different project demands, ensuring they have the right capabilities within their workforce to align against their purpose, strategy, and priorities.

A truly agile workforce is one in which your teams have access to internal and external resources. It empowers them to make fast, intelligent decisions about where to deploy resources, and is often cost effective.

Although one of the strengths of a consultancy is to bring best practice to the table, they have also been notorious for bringing off-the-shelf solutions that have not been specific to the client needs. The ability to tap into a pool of agile subject-matter experts (SMEs) will ensure they have a clear differentiator, and in turn, allow them to add more value to the client.

Lesson two: Industry know-how reigns over generalist knowledge
Consultants have been historically generalist. But with the shift away from high-value short-term projects to longer-term strategy development, advisory work needs to be more industry-specific than ever before.

Consultants are expected to know the reality of customers and adapt their service to meet the client’s complex needs, in turn, adding more value to the client. Off-the-shelf solutions will fail to meet the client’s requirements, and they will likely look elsewhere in a competitive market.

Consulting firms no longer enjoy a monopoly on specialised knowledge. This has meant that clients are more likely to use several different providers for different tasks, including using more boutique and specialist firms to tap into SMEs.

For those consultancies that are not industry-specific, the need to be able to tap into a pool of industry experts will be higher than ever before. Ensuring these expertise are available and visible will be key.

Lesson three: Consultancies need to act harder, better, faster, stronger
Within an increasingly competitive market, clients have become more demanding; expecting a higher quality of work alongside a faster delivery of solutions and services.

Delivering projects isn’t the issue here. But completing them faster, more efficiently and to a tighter budget than ever before is. All whilst still being under ever-increasing scrutiny from the client.

The global nature of many firms has also meant that they are delivering projects that require working in a multi-sourcing nature. This includes using subcontractors, partner companies, and independent SMEs to ensure they are ticking all the above.

Project complexity has also meant that it is harder for teams to plan in advance, meaning that unless they have an effective agile workforce plan, resourcing volatility has increased. This reinforces the need for the consulting industry to have an agile workforce plan that has access to internal and external resources, so they can make quick decisions on where to deploy resources.

Are you prepared?
Pipeline, projects and people are the core ingredients for success in 2022. This means knowing what projects lay ahead, how much they will cost and whether you have the right skillsets to deliver them.

If 2021 has taught us anything though is that you have to be able to respond and adapt quickly. If you don’t, a competitor will.

If you haven’t already, this is your cue to get your agile workforce strategy in place so you can respond effectively to client needs. But if you really want to get ahead, now’s the time to start pooling and pipelining SMEs.


Charlotte Harrison is the Principal Consultant for our professional services division. At NSCG, we can help with your leadership and agile workforce management challenges. To find out more, please get in touch.

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