How Consulting Firms Win - Part 2 of A 2-Part Series by The Hinge institute
Do any of these statements ring true for your firm?
- “Our ability to harness technology to automate or simplify business operations is hindered by old processes, a lack of tech knowledge, or an inability to adopt.”
- “When projects underperform, we can’t quite put our finger on why.”
- “Our margins have gotten thinner over the last five years.”
- “Our value proposition keeps changing and we have a hard time articulating our differentiators.”
- “We struggle to create a strong, passionate, inspired team that stays with us long enough to become part of our competitive offering.”
If so, you are far from alone. In fact, according to the Project Management Institute, “The GDP contributions from project-oriented industries are forecasted to reach $20.2 trillion over the next 20 years, yet 9.9% of every dollar is wasted due to poor project performance – that’s $99 million for every $1 billion invested.”
To battle project and business losses caused by poor performance, Deltek and The Hinge Research Institute have teamed up to tackle four main areas where consulting firms commonly struggle: project delivery, growth, profitability, and talent. The result of that collaboration is How Consulting Firms Win – The Definitive Playbook, an eBook filled with research, tips, checklists, and case studies to walk you carefully through the steps it takes to reverse the statements above.
How Consulting Firms Win - The Definitive Playbook
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As we mentioned in Part 1 of this blog, there are four key plays outlined in the playbook. Each play is followed by an insightful checklist to help you identify which steps you have already taken to improve in that area, and which steps remain to be actioned. For example, in Play 1: Exceptional Project Delivery, the “How to Deliver Exceptional Projects” checklist includes tips and best practices that should categorically be put into place to win, including:
- Developing a contingency plan to anticipate key resource turnover.
- Having team members – who will implement the project – create client estimates; and have a peer review if possible.
- Leveraging a scalable project management platform and software that gives time and resources back to profitable activity.
Play 2 focuses on Faster Growth. In it we outline the “6 Characteristics of a Growth-Oriented Firm.” See how many of these characteristics describe your consulting firm and where you can improve. Play 2 also incorporates the latest consulting research to validate some of its points, including how high-growth firms are turning more and more to technology to help them grow, be more efficient, and differentiate themselves.
As the playbook is designed to allow readers to start with any play they wish, “Play 3: Greater Profitability,” will be where many gravitate to begin. This play focuses on key insight sections including “5 Characteristics of a Highly Profitable Firm” and “6 Ways to Set Your Firm Apart.” There is plenty in this play to help you determine what your firm can be doing differently to improve profitability. Once again this play ends with an actionable checklist, including steps toward greater profits, such as:
- Understanding the high cost of employee turnover (at an average of $150k to replace an employee). High employee retention improves profitability.
- Developing a roadmap to upgrade your top 20% of clients to special premium offerings. Many will want, value and pay for this red-carpet level of service.
- Treating every employee as an agent of profitability. Make sure they understand various profit levers, and empower and incentivize them to come up with new ways to increase profitability.
The last play focuses on talent. Consulting firm leaders know that the success of a firm rises and falls on the strength and stability of every team member working on the front lines. In fact, your talent pool is the foundation for exceptional project delivery, faster growth, and greater profitability. But the landscape is rocky. According to SPI Research, “the average time to recruit and ramp new consulting employees recently grew to more than 121 days…attrition spiked to 13%...and the average cost to replace a high-performing employee is about $150,000 per employee.”
Because attracting and retaining the best, most appropriate talent is complicated and failing to manage talent well is costly, “Play 4: The Best Talent,” could be the hardest play for many consulting firms to run. To simplify this play for readers, we’ve filled it with actionable steps that evolving firms use to acquire and maintain the best talent.
Whether you are a consulting firm executive, project manager, team member, or firm resource, you will want to download and read this playbook – either in its entirety or by focusing on one play at a time. Hopefully you will pick up a few tips that you can apply immediately.
To get a sense of where you might begin your firm’s best plays, listen to the on-demand webinar for more perspective.
About the Author
Hinge's Head of Digital Strategy, Kelly has more than 15 years of professional services and digital marketing experience. He is a Visible Expert in Account-Based Marketing and is recognized by Onalytica as a Top 50 Martech Global Influencer. Kelly writes and speaks frequently on a variety of technology, process, and marketing issues that business leaders and consultants face in today's marketplace.