When it comes to choosing a consulting firm to help guide a corporate real estate organization through strategic restructuring or a complex software solution implementation, many companies assume the best option would be to engage large well-known firms who employ armies of consultants providing a multitude of services across a wide range of industries. They assume these large firms, by nature of their size and global presence, will provide the most experienced consultants and the best value for their investment versus hiring a smaller consulting group who specializes in specific services and industries. In some cases that may be the right choice; in many cases it’s not.
While it would seem to be a logical assumption, many times these selection decisions are influenced more by preconceived notions than empirical data or actual experience. Let’s explore some of the facts and assumptions that are common to many consulting partner selection efforts.
COST: One of the biggest factors in a competitive bid situation is always the total price of the engagement. Small consulting firms will almost always be less expensive than a large firm due in part to lower overhead, senior experienced personnel leading the delivery, and optimized team structures where all team members contribute to a focused solution instead of general observations.
Large consulting organizations have multiple layers of managers, directors and partners who all bill to every project even though they rarely actually contribute materially to the deliverables. Smaller firms have the same talent and skills as the larger firms, but those roles deliver the work instead of “supervising” less experienced team members. Thus, the quality of work is higher while the total fees tend to be less for the same work.
PEOPLE: When procuring consultancy services, IT IS ALL ABOUT THE PEOPLE. The quality of people assigned to a project and a client’s ACCESS to specialty resources are critical to success. Due to the structural nature and strong focus on financials, large consulting firms typically promote experienced consultants up the management ladder, often leaving newer, less experienced consultants to staff many projects. Valuable persons with specialist knowledge and extensive experience are typically shared across multiple clients, impacting a single client’s access to these resources.
In contrast, smaller consulting firms typically have a flatter reporting structure, deploy smaller, more focused implementation teams, and in general have less overhead. They tend to employ and staff projects with highly experienced consultants having years of their own direct industry experience. This combination of flatter project team structures and more dedicated high-caliber resources ensure that clients have access to and can leverage the knowledge and experience that they are paying for.
FLEXIBILITY AND CLIENT FOCUS: Another factor that affects the day to day working relationship between the consulting group and the client team is the degree to which the consultant can be agile and flexible. Large consulting firms are built on a strict hierarchical bureaucratic reporting and working structure that typically make them inflexible and often more difficult to work with. Small firms tend to be more agile and more willing to adapt their delivery as needed to end the project with a satisfied client.
And more practical experience gives the smaller firms more flexibility to custom tailor the project delivery for each client as needed to drive success. For the client, this means a personalized approach that focuses more on client satisfaction and business stakeholder relationships than is common with larger consulting firms.
DEPTH OF EXPERIENCE: Experience is an important area of differentiation. While the large consulting firms have a plethora of services across many industries and sectors, smaller consulting firms typically specialize in fewer services and target markets, typically with a significantly higher number of projects and clients for the specific services they perform. This gives the smaller consulting firms greater depth of experience and visibility into the most common issues and the most effective solutions associated with these services and target markets.
Having worked with 7 of the fortune 10 and over 35 of the Fortune 100 companies in the capacity of strategic consulting and technology implementations, EBUSINESS STRATEGIES is well qualified to provide the consulting and technical services to support your organization’s next corporate real estate strategic or technology initiative.
We have the knowledge, experience, tools and methods to drive every project to a timely and successful conclusion. This expertise, along with our real-life lessons learned, brings to the table a unique differentiator in our ability to successfully support and deliver the right solution for your organization. Our proven track record of satisfied clients and long-term support relationships speaks for itself. Reach out today! #AskEBiz