Innovation In Consulting: How Are Your Competitors Staying Ahead Of The Curve?

Posted by Chris Duddridge on October 3, 2018

Innovation in consulting

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Are you a senior leader in a management or IT consulting firm? Do you find yourself sometimes lying awake at night worrying about how to remain competitive? If so, you are not alone.

Deltek’s recent research report, ‘Insight to Action – The future of the professional services industry’ asked industry leaders to identify the top five most challenging trends, over a five-year time frame. The number one issue, by a significant margin, was the ‘Increasing complexity of projects’, cited by 69% of respondents in the management consulting space and 59% in IT consulting. The other four challenges were:

  • Managing highly bespoke services (39% & 38%) 
  • Developing the right knowledge and skills (36% & 35%) 
  • Client change requests (34% & 35%); and 
  • The ubiquity of the Cloud (33% & 35).

Taken together, these concerns paint a picture of an industry that is ill-equipped to tackle current hurdles and surmount future risks. And while survey respondents expressed a desire to strengthen internal systems and processes, as well as core business models, our research found that the c-suite and other business leaders lacked the foresight they needed to prepare effectively for what lies ahead.


Industry Report

Professional Services Trends Report 2018



Project Management – Performance And Procedure

Project Management In Consulting

Four out of those five challenges can be directly addressed by adopting innovation in consulting firms, especially in relation to project management. We asked industry professionals to rank their priorities for the next 12-months and they named the following five project management goals:

  • Achieving well defined scope; 
  • Having a clear view of which projects/clients are profitable; 
  • Obtaining clear document version control; 
  • Improving compliance processes; and 
  • Getting paid for all change requests.

Deltek’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Project Information Management solutions streamline all of these tasks, providing a clearer view of the project pipeline, and tracking profitability of individual projects and the firm as a whole.

Getting a handle on those measures allows firms to remain agile, which is especially useful in terms of responding to changes in client behaviour.


'our research found that the c-suite... lacked the foresight
they needed to prepare effectively for what lies ahead'



Talent Management – Keep Ahead Of The Game

The other major challenge –ranked at number three on our list – relates to knowledge and skills. Initially, that sounds like a human resources issue, but in this day and age, it is also a technology issue.

That’s because the people most likely to position firms for profitability and sustainability are the ones leading the charge towards a new digital future.

Obviously, there is fierce competition among employers for these young and digitally savvy employees. That means professional services firms have to cultivate an attractive workplace and internal culture to attract exceptional talent. They’ll also need to offer the latest tools and technologies, and opportunities for people to grow and develop in their roles, so that existing and new employees remain loyal and deliver their best work.

In essence, human resources requirements are now integrally linked to the entire business management structure.

Embracing New Technologies In Consulting – Be A Leader, Not A Follower

Technology In Consulting

Is your firm ready to attract, employ and retain the best talent in your industry? If you answered ‘No’, you are among the majority, which is a worrying sign!

Deltek’s survey found that 68% of senior leaders were unprepared to manage the risk of talent shortages; and 38 percent said they lacked successors for various positions.

Ross Williamson, Managing Partner at Wipro Consulting, gave us further insight into this issue at the Digital Leaders Forum, when he said that the single biggest issue facing employers today is securing “expert talent”. Ross believes that many professional services firms are hampered by an industry-wide reluctance to embrace new technology.

He argues that digital solutions – such as automation, artificial intelligence and robotics – will deliver human resources efficiencies capable of redefining the way firms charge their clients, and he predicts a shift away from traditional financial models based on time-and-materials inputs.

“As the number of hours going into a project reduces… as resources are used more efficiently in terms of automation, how do we charge the client for the value we are bringing?” Ross asks.


'the single biggest issue facing employers today is securing “expert talent”'



Reviewing Pricing And Business Models – Take A Longer-Term View

Ross says that innovation will reshape the business environment: professional firms that choose to make early investments in emerging technologies will position themselves for a more secure future. They’ll benefit from greater foresight, with two-to-three years’ worth of project pipeline data at the ready, rather than two to three quarters’ worth that many firms rely on now, he says.

📽️ Watch Ross explain how technology will transform the industry here.

The Only Certainty Is More Change

The consulting industry is undergoing a period of rapid and transformational change.

And in order to stay relevant – and for business leaders to get a decent night’s sleep – consulting firms need to adapt and embrace technology. Otherwise, they risk losing their competitive edge to new market entrants, and/or more established companies that join the digital stampede.


2018 Industry Report

Professional Services Trend Report

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