Last week we introduced you to Indie Tech and shared our bold vision to transform the consulting industry. There has already been disruption in the freelancer market, but that has largely bypassed the enterprise-consulting industry. Driving more access, transparency and collaboration at an enterprise level requires something fundamentally different. An enterprise gateway marketplace (EGM) can harness the complexities required to work as a supplier with large enterprises.
What is an EGM?
As the term suggests, an EGM is a marketplace designed for enterprises, starting with financial institutions. It combines two common types of technology businesses: enterprise software as a service (SaaS) and marketplaces. In a conventional marketplace like Upwork, which is for freelancers, everyone belongs to a shared space, where any user can see or find other users. This structure is not possible in an enterprise environment—there are too many controls prohibiting just anyone from working with it, and the threat of a security breach is too high. Greater scrutiny is required to work with a large enterprise. An EGM allows for the creation of individually segregated marketplaces, enabling each institution to view its own supplier network and the associated activity in its environment. This ensures that only those users who have passed due diligence are allowed into any given market.
Addressing consultant pain-points
The industry standard for executing significant business with large enterprises requires master service agreements, or MSAs. The cost and challenge of obtaining these agreements is a barrier to entry for most independent consultants, funnelling them into one of two processes, which each have problems that an EGM can solve.
In one option, they are required to work with staffing firms and vendor management systems (VMS), like Beeline or SAP Fieldglass, through a managed service provider (MSP), such as Allegis or Randstad. Unfortunately, such systems often put people who lack the expertise to understand the hiring manager’s needs in charge of presenting suitable candidates. This frequently means that large financial institutions struggle to find the highly technical expertise they require to complete projects. An EGM addresses this by allowing consultants and firms more visibility in an internal ecosystem that they technically lack the ability to fully sell into, because of their size, while giving hiring managers the freedom to reach out directly to suppliers with whom they are approved to work.
Adding to the difficulties of the VMS route, enterprise rate cards dictate prices. These often include broad-based categories that do not adjust for the kind of niche expertise that’s critical for many engagements. Such practices, coupled with the typical opacity around margins and pricing (more on that in next week), fail highly skilled consultants who are most qualified for specific roles. By aggregating engagements on a single platform, an EGM can drive clarity and fairness in pricing through a demand-supply relationship, while being fully transparent about margins across the board. For the first time ever, there will be no questions about rates, other than negotiating them.
The second way to enter a financial institution is through procurement as a consultant, with an approved consulting firm that holds an MSA. This engagement sets certain milestones and deliverables in a contract, known as a statement of work (SOW). As the gig economy encroaches into the consulting space, Indie Tech believes that we are ill-equipped to handle the influx of independent consultants that is beginning to happen. Misclassifying them as contractors rather than consultants, just because they are independent, increases risk at the highest levels of the financial-services industry. We only need to look at Wells Fargo’s press release last year where the company admitted it spent $3 billion on consulting services and had decided to reduce that by a third.
This trend also leaves procurement teams unprepared, from a technological standpoint, to facilitate these contracts as they increasingly engage external suppliers. At the same time, contingent workforce programs that rely on a VMS fail to find mission-critical expertise, a perfect storm of operational risk. An EGM would be ideal between the VMS and the procurement solution that processes SOWs. For the first time ever it would allow large enterprise to better manage their real-time supplier risk.
Partnering with Indie Group, our sister company, and why it matters
Vendor management systems require a service provider to manage the technology as well as its partnership with an enterprise. Similarly, Indie Tech believes that independent consultants who are working on a project should always have milestones and deliverables attached to their work, as guaranteed by an SOW. That is the only way to manage and monitor the performance of suppliers, and it keeps all of the parties aligned as outcomes become measurable. The only way to possibly do this is for a consulting firm to be responsible for managing the deliverables that the independent consultants agree to, effectively ensuring the kind of engagement management that one expects from a large consulting firm.
Fortunately, before undertaking the research, patents and development required to make Indie Tech a reality, founder Sophia Stone created a consulting firm called Indie Group. Indie Group is built as a cooperative of independent consultants and was designed to disrupt current consulting standards. Indie Group’s roster of clients includes some of Canada's largest financial institutions.
Indie Group will be Indie Tech's first client. All independent consultants will work directly under Indie Group and its SOWs. All clients who work with Indie Group will be able to join as hiring managers, meaning they gain unprecedented access to Indie Group's consulting bench.
Indie Tech will allow Indie Group, the first firm we are testing with, to manage SOWs with its independent consultants using our innovative platform. Everything from end to end will continue to be completely transparent, ensuring that everyone remains on the same page.
What does this mean for you, the independent consultant?
Independent consultants who work with financial institutions will now partner with Indie Group as the first clients of Indie Tech. This platform was designed by and for consultants who have faced these problems for years without adequate support. Pricing, contracts and relationships will be transparent and accessible.
We continue to build the platform by automating parts of the consulting management process. Your job will become easier as you work directly with our clients—and you will find your next contract with much more ease.
We have launched early sign-ups with independent consultants, and we are excited about your feedback. Please join us today and create your profile.
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