Gerry Carr, CMO at BCSocial on a how to facilitate a new model of lean consulting.
Our customers at BCSocial are telling us that the traditional model of a consulting business is finished. While the volume of client engagements for consultants is improving across Europe there remains a strong resistance to paying for any ancillary costs associated with hiring from a consultancy. In particular for new and emerging consulting firms this resistance will come in the form of a squeeze on fees. This puts the onus firmly on the firm to run a tight ship from an administrative and cost-of-hire point of view.
Into this changed world then a whole new category of lean consulting businesses are emerging. These businesses are highly flexible with very few full time employees but with often very large networks of contributors that can be called on to work behind the scenes or at client sites. These businesses are often run out of shared office space or at the very least in non-traditional locations to keep overheads down. In short they are taking full advantage of both the cultural and technical shifts of recent years that sees people more open to flexible employment relationships.
On the technical front there has been the obvious liberating emergence of mobile computing and the cloud that has allowed us to work from anywhere and at any time. Interestingly and perhaps for the first time these technologies have seen their adoption in the workplace driven by user preference rather than business need. Today's consultant has his or her contacts list on Linkedin, their files spread across Google Drive and Dropbox, Gmail is their work email and Excel and Powerpoint keep them using MSOffice — and everything, everything is in the cloud.
What issues does this present for a consulting business?
In talking to our customers and prospects there is a duality of requirement. No-one wants to restrict the flexibility and mobility of what their users use every day to get their job done and mandating technologies to a loosely connected federation of contributors is not a reality in any case. However the business does need a to have some structure to control, audit, approve or even just find the conversations and content that makes up in many cases the Intellectual Property of a consulting business.
To manage these conflicting requirements many businesses are providing a virtual location where their contributors can interact.
Chris Shaw from Advantage Business Partners, a business coaching consultancy, explains, "We provide our clients with expertise from dozens if not more contributors only a few of whom actually work for us full time. We need a place where we can get or contributors to
interact, to share their work, reports etc. and that gives us centrally a degree of control without controlling what they use to get their job done. We use BCSocial as that virtual location."
The BCSocial online workspace is designed from the ground up to help networked teams collaborate and have access not simply to information but tools and services to make them more productive. BCSocial has been helping small to medium size businesses manage the complexity of information, talent and knowledge flow for the past 2 years. The new consultancy online workplace helps:
- Integrate full time and occasional contributors seamlessly into the business in the same online working space
- Manage the collective output of all contributors in a single location organised logically against customers or projects structures
- Beyond document management; track the content, conversations, approvals, workflows together in one place making the company much more organised and ready for the next stage of its development
Essentially we are providing a structured cloud location for employees of consultancies and their networks to interact, share content, track IP and create a 'virtual' workplace.
It is a frictionless experience for the user but for the business it provides the reassurance of being able to simply track and record what is going on across the full spectrum of clients and projects. To create your own virtual workplace completely free for 30 days go here.