Why Maintaining Organizational Flexibility is the Key to Sustainable Growth for your Consultancy?

Why Maintaining Organizational Flexibility is the Key to Sustainable Growth for your Consultancy?

A consulting firm is a dynamic organization that is vulnerable to the fluctuations of the business cycle. New projects come and go, and the people who staff your firm tend to change over time. While you may not have current problems with recruitment, finding the appropriate level of staffing is tricky. A major economic event could shift the entire market, meaning that your company might quickly lose or gain projects that affect your staffing scheme. Whether you have too many staff on hand or not enough, firms rarely end up in the middle with the perfect number of consultants.

Due to unpredictable economic changes, it’s important to have a flexible staffing plan that accounts for factors affecting your firm’s optimal size, considering the structure of the business and the market demand. The appropriate level of staffing is not an issue that will go away. With too many consultants, you could lose profitability in the case of headwinds. Without enough consultants, your firm could miss important opportunities to grow and profit. In addition, having excess staff could mean that your firm accepts projects for which it isn’t qualified, which creates the risk of damaging your credibility. In a consulting firm, delivering great value and return on investment for your clients is a must have, but the key to profitability is finding the size and cost structure that works for you.

Optimizing the Risk Rewards Equation

The driver for profitability, in all asset-intensive businesses, is optimizing the utilization of the assets. Consulting, despite being asset light from a tangible standpoint carries the bulk of its costs through salaries. This means that you need to find the right trade-off to get the maximum economic performance results from the utilization of each employee, without overextending your human capital budget.

Besides sizing, finding the right equilibrium between base salary and bonus Is very often an underestimated lever. Many consultancies consider the total compensation as a fixed cost and link the bonuses to the quality of delivery without taking advantage of the flexibility it could provide.

Tying part of the bonus calculation to the economic profitability of the firm can not only mitigate partially the risk of the downturn but also drive the right behaviors from your consulting staff.

Another lever can be, to change the ratio between base salary and bonus to lower the guaranteed amount but grant higher rewards if the firm is doing well. This is a deal that many young consultants are more than willing to take as it mimics the classical partner structure they aspire to.

Sizing for the Unexpected

Just like staffing for any business, maintaining the right number of employees directly affects your profitability. Keep in mind that, once you have people on the payroll, you measure profitability by what remains after their checks clear your company bank account.

Your firm makes a financial obligation to employees, at least in the short term, by offering ongoing employment and perhaps benefits and perks. When you extend your budget for more staff, financial issues and downsizing might threaten your ability to keep them on the payroll. Or worse, the pressure to keep up with your payroll needs could lead you to unscrupulous or deviant behaviors to capture new business.

You cannot always predict an economic downturn. Because of this, your firm should add new employees in stages, so as not to overextend the payroll budget. It’s always easier to hire new consultants than it is to fire them, so be prudent. If you do have to begin downsizing, you run the risk of blemishing your firm’s reputation and damaging relationships with your consultants.

Investing in Non- Production activities

When reviewing your sizing assumptions, it is important to anticipate that not all days will be productive. First by design as assignments usually don’t align themselves to optimize your own schedule. Second as you need to dedicate some time to other activities that are key to the sustainability of your company. Those activities will range from commercial and networking to more knowledge related tasks on research, capitalization, thought leadership and knowledge sharing. This layer in your resource planning is extremely important as it will condition your ability to bring something fresh to your clients and your flexibility to move from one contract to another.

Preparing for Good News

Once you have defined the minimum size and added some resources to handle other activities, choosing the right size for a consulting firm is still not an exact science. As it turns out, with a sizing like this you might be unable to take additional projects and therefore to grow your business.

The secret formula lies somewhere in the ideal balance between internal and external resources. This means that you have enough full-time consultants on staff to provide stability and to inspire client confidence. While at the same time, you have successful partnerships with external organizations and individuals to meet the requirements of special projects on schedule.

You want the size of the staff to meet the level of projected demand. You also want your company to build a network of valued partners and qualified subcontractors. This enables your firm to augment consulting staff when the demand for all projects exceeds your internal capacity. When you accept new projects, you can temporarily take on extra consultants. Later, you can scale down to the usual team size, especially after those extra projects are completed. Unless in the frame of a deliberate strategic move, none of your projects should extend your firm too far beyond its core competencies.

Partnering with Qualified Staff

While you may rely on external consultants, you must also ensure that each of these resources possesses the right skillset for the job. Not every consultant will have the appropriate qualifications for each new project. You may need a diverse recruitment strategy to attract subcontractors who can augment your operations.

Beyond the optimization of your cost base and the proper management of your company’s risk profile, working with external partners creates new business opportunities. When you expand your professional network, you can pitch new business. Your additional partners can bring capabilities that are complementary to your core business. At first, this may seem like conflicting advice, but your firm should begin by adding partners with capabilities that closely relate to your core competencies.

While you could augment your staff through relationships with other firms around the world, it’s important to choose those located in countries or regions that offer your company the biggest competitive advantage. The intent is to win new business. This occurs, in part, by attracting the interest of the companies that are familiar with your new business partners.

Be Flexible and Prepare for the Future

Your firm will eventually adjust the number of staff, hopefully, to include more consultants. This will mean that the pessimistic scenario is improving and that you are growing your activities in a sustainable way.

Even though financial challenges may arise, you will agree that the best time to add more human assets is when things are going well. When your company is successfully completing its current projects, and attracting more projects and your worst-case scenario in term of planning can cover your internal staff it may be time to consider adding at least a few consultants to your team. In essence, you are scaling up to prepare for future growth while managing risks. Looking at your teams and discussing the capabilities needed for new opportunities, as well as factoring in the use of qualified partners and subcontractors, will help you to optimize your consulting set-up.

Balancing your current resources, while leveraging partnerships, doesn’t mean you need to fundamentally change your recruitment plan but those adjustments can make all the difference on your balance sheet, reduce risk, provide higher rewards to your employees and open new opportunities to fuel your growth.

 

About Teambuilder


Teambuilder is the first global marketplace specialized in providing consultancies and independent consultants alike a shared location to communicate their project team needs and pair it with the right skills and expertise. The platform is designed to streamline the search process for bringing on consultants to strengthen your team and win more projects.

Sell Less To Sell Better: A Key Disruptive Strategy For Your Consulting Business

Sell Less To Sell Better: A Key Disruptive Strategy For Your Consulting Business

A Day In The Life Of An Overworked Consultant

It’s early in the morning, and you roll out of bed. You take 20 minutes to exercise and grab a protein shake, when your day really begins.

Open your email and start prospecting. Rush to your first of four meetings with clients and potential clients. Through the dizzying buzz of a typical day, you barely have time to eat, as you manage your own website and marketing, your content delivery, and plan for your customer’s needs. By the time the day has flown by, you drop into bed knowing that you have four hours before you start it all over again tomorrow.

Whether you’re a single consultant building a niche consulting boutique or you’re part of a big consulting firm, this is the busy day you often face. You’re running from one activity to another, marketing your consulting expertise, prospecting clients, and working with current clients. You often don’t have time for planning or reflection.

When Less Is More

No matter the size of your organization, there is a limit to the time your team has in each day. Many consultants are great at helping their clients outsource key non-core activities, scheduling, and creating for others a business that is focused and cutting edge.

But consultants rarely have time to do the same things for themselves. Your business involves helping other businesses manage their operations and planning, but your own time management is lacking in both your business life and your personal life. Often, the important activities of planning, rest, and recovery all get put to the side when you invest all of your time working.

That’s why it’s important to remember that sometimes, you must sell less to sell better. When you have the energy and focus you need, you can build great product funnels and create value for your clients. You’ll have the space to engage each customer at full capacity.

Build A Consulting Business That Allows You To Focus On Your Strengths

Most of the consulting industry is ruled by large firms, and many medium-sized consulting firms are just vying for the right to be bought out by the larger firms. How are smaller consulting firms to compete?

For consultants wanting to break into the market, it is important to utilize the power of networking with consultant brokers. These are the firms that work with executive search committees to find the right consultant for different jobs. The brokers can review your consulting goals and achievements, and match up clients’ and consultants’ price points, expertise, and needs.

This model of networking and business building creates an opportunity to specialize in the areas you are most passionate about, to charge the right amount per customer, and to grow your business through providing excellent service to each and every customer. Focused consulting gives you the ability to create happy customers. And the only way to do focused consulting is with a less-is-more attitude.

With this disruptive strategy added to your business plan, you’ll reduce the time spent on bringing awareness to your potential clients and instead focus on delighting them with excellent consulting.

Know When To Outsource

There are many situations in which it makes better sense for you to outsource. By outsourcing the right tasks, you’ll free up your time to grow your business, to increase your productivity, and concentrate on doing quality work for your current clients.

Hire others to take care of low value-added tasks — those tasks that are not essential to what you do, and that are easy to delegate. Delegate tasks like day-to-day office responsibilities. And don’t be afraid to hire a subcontractor or refer to a broker, if you’re consulting in an area in which you don’t have the expertise.

Knowing when to outsource and when to delegate is an important part of freeing up your time to be more productive.

Network, Outsource, And Reinvigorate Your Business

As “no” becomes an answer you can afford to give clients, you can also afford to say “no” to urgent activities that are not key to your business focus.

Focusing on how to deliver high-quality service to the right people gives you the freedom to outsource your marketing and PR activities to others. As you outsource the activities that used to fill up your schedule, you’ll have more time to focus on reinvigorating your business — and yourself.

The following benefits will flow naturally out of a focused business plan with proper outsourcing:

  • You’ll Be Better At What You Do. Ultimately, you’ll positively impact your bottom line. You’ll have the time to build an excellent reputation for yourself, you’ll acquire experience and become a reference in your field. With the ability to give more valuable advice, you’ll be able to price your fees accordingly.
  • More Time For Professional Development. Every Stay up-to-date and current in your field. Allow yourself the time to read and write articles, attend conferences, and become a knowledgeable resource for others.
  • More Time To Strategize. Each activity you do can be improved, but you don’t always have the time to examine the best way to improve your work. Taking the time to strategize is necessary. Figure out how something can be improved and really think about the answer.
  • More Time With Your Clients. When your business life is made up of constantly clamoring for more and more clients, your current customers can easily be left by the wayside. Analyze how your current customers can better be served, and build a relationship with them. By strategizing, you can take the time to let your consulting product grow naturally through the rest and restart cycles of organic growth.
  • Time to Expand. Expanding your business can actually be detrimental if you don’t have the time to reflect on how changes are impacting current best practices. You must plan how to integrate an expanding business with your current consulting passion, and plan out the who, what, when, where, and how of your expansion plans.

 

And ultimately, you’ll have more time for yourself! But we think you know what to do with that.