In my last post, I'd mentioned that BHS Consultants is an "IT/technology consulting firm"; I also mentioned that I'd discuss why this is a challenging label for a company such as ours.
Over the next couple posts, I'll be taking you through a more detailed examination of why that label is a challenging one for our company by way of comparing and contrasting what I call "classic consulting" and "modern consulting".
(I fully expect some people to disagree, and, as always, I welcome any/all constructive feedback and opinions.)
Classic consulting typically consists of offering expert knowledge to those companies that need to improve/implement a process, reduce/eliminate existing problems and challenges, and/or otherwise lend guidance to expertly guide a project.
Notice the emphasis on process and advice; there is no actual implementation work or "getting your hands dirty" in that respect. (Peter Block, author of Flawless Consulting long-time consultant, hammers this point home in his book.)
Now I'm sure some (if not many) out there will either take exception or outright disagree with my definition above, and that's fine. It lends credence to the fact that even classic consulting is a difficult animal to clearly define.
There's also the associated stigma that has traditionally been associated with the business of consulting.
Modern consulting has adapted to meet the increasing demands of clients and must continue to do so in order to remain relevant and useful.To be clear, I'm not saying that the principles and hallmarks of classic consulting are moot and no longer relevant; far from it, in fact. Modern consulting builds off much of the foundation of classic consulting. In essence, modern consulting expands the purview of classic consulting and removes many of the traditional boundaries between advising clients and actually performing implementation.
At the heart of consulting, to be sure, as many experts have written (including both Mr. Block and Dr. Weiss), is to have your advice actually used.
This definition of modern consulting is especially true in the field of IT and other technology-based fields (of which there are an ever-increasing number).
Consider this: You're put in charge of a large project to implement a new internal business process that is to be heavily automated, and you (and your superiors) know that no one in the organization has the know-how or experience to approach this project on his/her own, let alone the manpower to actually carry out the implementation. What's more is that you're given a deadline (as is usually the case; how far in the future the deadline is doesn't factor in) and a budget (as is also usually the case).
As the person in charge of this project, you clearly want to do the job well and make a big impression on your superiors (there could be a bonus, a raise, or a promotion in it for you).
The best way to make such an impression is to achieve the following goals:
- Complete the project on-time.
- Complete the project within (and preferably well under) the budget.
- Complete the project with a high degree of quality.
So, you have choices--some of them less desirable/applicable than others.
- Find and take on an internal staff (either full-time or contract) including both SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) and implementors.
- Find and contract a knowledgeable consultant to advise on the project and then either field a staff to implement or contract out the work to another firm.
- Find and contract a knowledgeable "one-stop shop" that has both the SMEs needed and the manpower to carry out the plan/advice from the SME(s).