Last week we discussed how an enterprise gateway marketplace (EGM) could transform how large enterprises engage with consultants and consulting firms. Automation of consulting practices through an EGM suits highly skilled, well-educated consultants who prefer a transparent partnership process.
Unfortunately, the consulting industry is rife with hard-to-navigate opacity. Reducing ambiguity is a game-changer for consultants. Transparency is at the core of any successful long-term relationship, and consulting is no different. An outlook that values transparency not only increases clarity for consultants and consulting firms, it also serves enterprises well by consistently exposing them to the best performers in their network.
Scope and contract clarity
Clarifying scope of work helps consultants align on expectations and understand a company’s stance on compensation. The current standards fall significantly short in meeting expected transparency. Sometimes the contracted team does not have the right skills, or project requirements are not well defined. In such cases, the fault does not lie with the consultant, and there is inevitable budget and scope creep. Often in contingent labour (staffing firm-facilitated) contracts, despite budgeting for an initially lower contract price, enterprises end up paying more than forecast because of poor scoping and hiring decisions. This often results in consultants bearing the full burden of responsibility. If everyone is on the same page up front around scope, expectations and performance, we can expect such challenges to abate over time.
A byproduct of poor arrangements is that consultants become wary of staffing and consulting firms that deliberately leave them vulnerable to such situations. Each instance of misalignment limits both the consultant’s and the firm’s brand, staining the impact and validity of the projects they complete with scepticism. We believe that much of the eye-rolling when consultants are mentioned at the dinner table can be blamed on the phenomenon of misalignment resulting in non-delivery.
The Harvard Business Review (HBR) concurs with us on the value of predictability for consultants during engagements. According to HBR, “One of the biggest predictors of whether a company will get the most out of a talent-platform partnership is how well it can break work down into rigorously defined components that can be easily handed over to outsiders. Most companies haven’t focused on this, because in traditional workplaces, managers can afford to be vague when making assignments. They know that everybody on the project team will be interacting so frequently that they’ll be able to clarify goals and make course corrections over time.” It is clear that this industry must shift to deliverable, outcome-based, properly scoped work.
One of the biggest frustrations for consultants, whether working full-time in a firm or independently, is pricing. It is critical that we as an industry begin shifting margins away from intermediaries toward those producing value. To bring more equity to pricing, it is imperative to increase pricing transparency. Indie Tech ensures that everyone is aware of the price and where costs are going, both while publishing engagements to the platform and when consultants are given the flexibility to set their own price. Negotiation of pricing should also bring everyone to the table transparently, agreeing on the best possible outcome for all involved and ensuring the best long-term—versus transactional—relationship.
Building trustworthy relationships through competing on merit
Consultants with in-demand expertise and years of experience are often not considered for projects for which they are ideal because they fall outside of set rate cards, and anything above a certain price would require significant approvals. Consultants start undervaluing themselves in an effort to compete within a market that does not measure expertise and performance. Without tracking the true performance of suppliers, we become overly reliant on priced-based decision-making, which we can all agree does not meet the rigour required for ensuring delivery. That is especially the case on high-risk regulatory projects that require a high degree of external expertise and bandwidth to ensure compliance by a given mandatory deadline set by the regulator.
Indie Tech will promote an accurate evaluation of consultants, coupled with pricing, to drive uniformity across the platform and encourage performance, collaboration and success. If we were to do it any other way, we would not appeal to our customers.
Have you been on the wrong side of opaque practices in the consulting industry? We would love to hear from you, and we invite you to explore Indie Tech further. We would also be thrilled to have you come along on our journey to help refine our solutions to such problems plaguing the industry.
Building transparency into the end-to-end engagement cycle with consultants makes supply chains flexible and reduces risk. We are building Indie Tech so the consulting industry can return to valuing long-term relationships based on delivery, performance and transparency. It excites us to announce that we are now accepting early signups from consultants and will be rolling out in the marketplace soon. We would love you to be part of changing the future of consulting. Join here.
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