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New European service standard for consulting.

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Brussels: Buyers of management consultancy can now look for a new European standard to define the service they can expect.

The designers of EN 16114 say it applies to all management consultancy services providers, whatever their area of specialisation or size of business. However the standard is voluntary and does not require certification.

A European service standard

EN 16114 has come out of an exhausting three year planning process led by The International Council of Management Consulting Institutes (ICMCI) and the European Federation of Management Consultancies (FEACO), who took the initiative to develop a European Standard within the European Standardization Committee (CEN).

The CEN/TC 381 Project Committee started its activities in 2008 and the standard was finally launched in Brussels earlier this month.

"The European Standard EN 16114 — Management consultancy services is an essential step for our industry. In the light of the current economic situation there is a growing demand for a recognized framework and effective tools to assess and monitor management consultancy services and their results. The commitment of all stakeholders involved in the development of the standard was driven by the prospect of more professionalism, better results from consultancy projects and reduced barriers to cross-border trade in management consultancy services", said Dr Ilse Ennsfellner, Vice Chair of ICMCI — International Council of Management Consulting Institutes) and Chairperson of CEN/TC 381 Project Committee.

However Alan Leaman, chief executive of the UK's Management Consultancies Association, MCA, offered a more sober assessment.

"This Standard may be of use to consultants who are new to the industry or starting up their own company. The MCA participated in the debates on the standard to ensure that nothing was done to disrupt existing high quality relations with clients or to introduce contractual muddle, particularly since our members comply with the MCA Code of Practice which far exceeds anything set out here. We are satisfied that the final draft meets that requirement. The Standard is purely voluntary and in the form of guidance", he commented.

Improve transparency and understanding

Its backers say the implementation and application of EN 16114 will improve transparency and understanding between clients and management consultancy service providers — a challenge expressed often by both clients and industry representatives. The standard intends to enhance the effectiveness of the European management consulting industry and accelerate the development of the profession.

"Management Consultancies have always implemented high standards of quality and transparency. Companies in our sector work together with clients to continuously improve the outcomes of projects. Management Consultancy companies' competitiveness is based on innovation and differentiation. Companies have their own processes, tools, frameworks, and knowledge, which the standard advocates. FEACO welcomes this recognition of our core values. We encourage public procurement authorities to take advantage of this European Standard", Gil Gidron, Chairman of FEACO pointed out.

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