The concept of professional services is undergoing a major change: while many companies still engage consultants project-based, there is a growing trend for on-going use of services. This enables quick response and flexibility to changing needs.
Traditionally, advertising companies have been experts in this way of working when utilizing flexible teams of art directors and copywriters to offer their clients the best possible resourcing for the case at hand. Instead of projecting every opportunity into a manageable workload these professional service providers (PSPs) are promoting and utilizing frame agreements to ease their clients’ buying processes – and increase the possibilities to sell more.
Strategy consultants as in-house business developers
Strategy consultants are beginning to increasingly use the same model as advertisers. In essence, strategy consultants are working much like in-house business development resources but without the same level of fixed costs. As the supply of continuous relationships in strategy consulting is growing, there are plenty of opportunities for companies to actually engage in Strategy as a Service. Depending on the need, a strategy consultant can help with:
– Support in corporate strategy development
– Business unit or location specific growth strategy
– Innovation and new business creation
– M&A and DD
– Strategy execution and implementation
– Program management office support or lead
Strategy as a Service for you?
A few years back I was very fortunate to work with a client in a business relationship that resembled the idea of Strategy as a Service. We were engaged in five separate consulting assignments with the client, but the assignments were closely linked together. At a time, two, or even three, assignments were going on simultaneously, and the PSP was very much driving the strategy development of the client company. PSP representatives were part of the client management team and working closely with other levels of the organization as well.
Based on my experience, what clients more increasingly look for, is implementation expertise and long-term partnerships. Strategy as a Service business model should be differentiated in a way that a PSP can commit to client’s success and metrics. When deciding what to keep in house and what to buy from an external service provider, clients should consider the following scenarios:
– Overhead minimization compared to in-house resources – Strategy as a Service will reduce the needed overhead
– Open book way of working to ensure results – Strategy as a Service will be more transparent
– Avoiding over-productization of tools and methodologies – Strategy as a Service will be hands-on problem solving
So next time you are about to engage an external consultant for a strategy project, why not consider to acquire his services as a service?