Monday, 13 July 2009

Thought Piece: Consultancy in a Recession

I am often asked how we have seen the consultancy market change in the last six months.

Remember that the majority of our consultancy clients are in the bracket between £500k and £25m turnover (or are blue chips trying to reach the small business market/audience).

So here goes.

- Potential clients who had difficulty knowing why they were buying or were unable to see the benefit of a specific project have put their projects 'on hold' - good news for everyone - no-one needs a client who isn't convinced of the value you are adding to their business!

- Clients have become more results-focused - hurray!

- Clients have recognised the need for real, tough decisions and to stop playing around the edges - hurray!

- Clients have become willing to pay more if they have the confidence that they will get the results they desire - a good thing!

- The demand for (strategy) awaydays or two-day workouts as well as for masterclasses has rocketed. We are doing more work that is sharply focused and with defined outcomes - a good thing!

Consultancy has never been and should never have been seen as a good thing like 'motherhood and apple pie'. This was often the case pre-recession. I think that some clients had taken that view and as a result they had lowered their expectations from an assignment. This was a disgraceful state of affairs for all concerned.

On balance, the recession has been a good thing for the industry:

- Poor consultants have been exposed for what they are - unable to deliver, although this has been at some cost to their clients

- New consultants enter the industry at a very high rate but their lack of track record or credibility is spotted by most - I hope

- The franchise-type businesses focusing on selling consultancy careers are doing well but I cannot (and would not comment) on the quality of their consultants' work

- Organisations focusing on delivering results are going from strength to strength.

In summary, the recession has allowed the trustworthy, serious consultancy players to separate themselves from the rest (through their action and results).

The industry needed this shake-out as its reputation (as totally unregulated.... or as 'someone who borrows your watch to tell you the time') has often been totally justified.

'Cheerful' Robert Craven on video back in Sept 08 on Recession Will Shake Out Bad Companies
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