Huw-Hilditch Roberts

Member Article

Some consultants giving industry a bad name

Huw Hilditch-Roberts, Director in Charge of The Institute of Consulting, gives his views on why some consultants are over promising and under delivering.

Depending on who you talk to you, people tend to have mixed views about the UK consulting industry. Some of the common criticisms levied at consultants are the fact they charge too much and are sometimes not perceived to add sufficient value.

In our experience, some of the causes of these problems lie in the poor procurement process that some companies favour. In the consultancy industry, there aren’t any consultancy recruitment agencies so companies don’t really know where to go to find professional and affordable consultants and subsequently often end up hiring the ‘wrong’ people.

We recently surveyed 350 of our consultant members to gauge their views on the procurement challenges facing businesses today. We were pretty alarmed by some of the results. 90% said their clients had been previously let down by consultants who had over promised, failed to add value, lacked the right skills and charged too much. The consultants highlighted that such businesses didn’t know how to source good consultants, which consultants to trust or where to go to hire effective consultants at affordable prices.

Almost 4 out of 10 consultants (39%) said that if more consultants had professional qualifications it would improve the image of consulting and over half (54%) said businesses would be more confident about hiring consultants if the consultants belonged to a professional industry association.

Interestingly they also said that in order to find the right people, businesses should look for consultants who are good at what they do first and foremost, and then look for good people management skills and those that can demonstrate leadership ability and project management know how.

They also said that companies should look out for signs of professional development. 84% of consultants said that regular training and development was important to them and key to their ability to provide good consultancy services.

We were impressed by the fact that nine out of ten of respondents had undertaken some form of professional development since starting out. A third had completed our Certified Management Consultant (CMC) accreditation, 20% had undertaken leadership and management courses, with similar numbers taking networking and marketing courses and specific project management courses such as Prince2.

But, it was clear from the research that many companies have had a bad experience finding consultants they can trust and who deliver results.

We hope to change this and take the pain out of consultancy procurement. We are launching a National Consultants’ Register in April and want it to become the first port of call for any company looking to procure first class consultants.

The Register will contain a list of consultants who are members of the IC and who have been vetted by us. It will be a list that businesses can trust and we hope it will change fundamentally the way consultants are hired in the UK.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Huw Hilditch-Roberts .

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