Top 5 Business Challenges for Consulting Organizations

My top five business challenges for a consulting organization:

As we get close to the middle of 2015, we all wonder what are those business challenges that we will encounter for the remainder of the year.  Not only is it the remainder of the year, it’s more about those consistent challenges we see in transformations and operational change to maintain our competitiveness.  As many of the readers here know, I work for a large Management Consulting firm and have been in organizational change consulting for quite some time.  Growing a management consulting firm still holds the same foundation such as rates, margins, bench size and pipeline.  Yet none of these matter if value cannot be delivered to the client.  If there is no value, there is no opportunity and hence, no money.

In my view, in order to maintain the growth of a management consulting firm into 2015, there needs to be a focus on these five areas.

  1. Attracting and Developing new Business – Without new business the consulting company cannot grow.  If it cannot grow, there will be no promotions, people will leave and it will eat itself from the inside out leaving nothing to sell.  Given the modern agile approach to tackling projects, the market is not seeing large scale transformation change but rather ‘quick win’ changes and short agile projects to transform the business are taking over.
  2. Dealing with a Difficult Marketplace – The market is challenging for large consulting firms.  Start up style businesses offer considerable value of business functionality at fractions of the cost of traditional large ERP systems.  The question is how can a huge consulting firm deal with the market?  Are they supporting their people to learn new technologies, approaches and strategic insights?
  3. Finding the Right People – People is everything in consulting.  Without the right people with the right skills, there will be nothing valuable delivered to the client.  Keeping people is an issue that also falls into this bucket.  Without transparent career growth, individuals will take their skills elsewhere.
  4. Innovation – How are you innovating new ideas and offerings?  If you have an organization with passionate people with new and fresh ideas, do you take those to market or reside in your comfort zone?  The consulting organization must strive to consistently update their offerings at least twice year.  Clients want to see that you are capable of delivering new ideas and solutions.
  5. Operations – Ensuring the internal processes of the consulting organization are supportive for external growth is imperative.  If there are too many processes in place, poor system of metrics, rewards and incentives, the structure will fall apart.

In my view, given these challenges, consulting organizations should set up teams dedicated to each area.  Most organizations do this relatively well however they all must be valued equally.

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