Creating Value For Our Clients
Consulting focuses on creating targeted change and delivering value for clients. In our work, inquiries are frequently made of the value that our own services deliver. In response, insights would be offered as to how and at times, we would be met with some contention. In an effort to better grasp where our clients were coming from, we asked questions seeking to gain a clearer sight and sense of their underlying thinking and assumptions about value.
Over time, it was discovered that the context of these questions were very different to the words used. What was really being asked was, how can we demonstrate or even prove that what we were delivering would be of value, in terms of the proposed financial outlay. For many clients, value is regularly evaluated on the basis of the monetary benefit that would be received in exchange for fees. Whilst technically correct, we have and do contend that this view of value is incomplete. It is even more so, when clients have not instituted the relevant systems or tools for capturing and measuring value in a holistic way.
From our years of experience, discussing and defining value has been fraught with challenges, arising from the diverse perspectives, experiences, contexts, and understandings of both the client and ourselves. We see value in a much broader way and have defined it along three key dimensions;
- Firstly, value should include all of the additional non-monetary benefits that would be derived from an engagement with any consultant. These could include for example, the alignment of project outcomes to business goals and strategy; improvements to productivity, service delivery, and company image; increased customer satisfaction and staff engagement; and reductions to business and operating risks. Some benefits are unexpected, depending largely on the client and environment in which it operates.
- Secondly, value does not exist in isolation but within a given context. What this simply means is that every client when thinking about value, should develop and evaluate its options in terms of a project's requirements, timelines, resourcing, constraints, and the wider environment in which it is being undertaken.
- Thirdly, value constitutes the means or methods for capturing and assessing the performance and success of business projects, their outcomes, and if the desired value was achieved - particularly as some benefits may be realized across the short, medium, and long term, and at different levels throughout a client's organization.
We have come to appreciate given fundamental constraints, limited resources, and an increasingly challenging business environment, that a balance has to be sought and negotiated between the effectiveness and efficiency of our methods and efforts, the prudent stewardship of resources, and the outcomes which are to be delivered to the client - if meaningful value is to be delivered. Every consultant, based on their own unique collection of skills, knowledge, and experience, achieves this in very different ways. Our team however, starts with a focus on the needs of our clients.
Focusing On Clients
The success of any project is inextricably linked to the uncovering, understanding, and delivery of the client's real, and not perceived needs. This is supported by the building of meaningful relationship, effective listening and communication, discernment of the changing environment, and effective management of the client's requirements.
One of the best ways to deliver value for a client, is to challenge its established thinking and norms. We ask difficult questions, interrogate all of the information presented, and encourage them to both consider alternative options and take bold steps forward. Where possible, we seek out and incorporate new ideas and approaches, and make improvements on existing ones.
Having Clear Objectives
On any project, it is imperative that we have clearly defined and described goals or objectives, as they describe the outcomes that should be realized. We work to ensure that every project is strategically viable, meaning that they are aligned to the client's core strategy and have the desired impact on its business objectives.
Managing Related Risks And Issues
Creating value for our clients would come from the successful delivery of projects. This would require the continuous monitoring and management of the related progress, risks, resources, stakeholders, project environment, issues, challenges, and requests. Throughout each initiative, we would identify, evaluate, and communicate to our clients, the impact of changes within each area.
We recognize that consistent and timely delivery is integral to building credibility with and maintaining the trust of our clients. For our team, delivery is underpinned and driven by integrity, accountability, transparency, collaboration, and open communication with our clients.
Clarity comes from the elimination of ambiguity. Being external to a client's organization, we can leverage an unbiased view or perspective of the prevailing issues, challenges and environment, ask difficult questions, offer key insights from other engagements, and provide focus and direction where they may have been lacking or non-existent.
As much as the project would allow, we would provide added value by going beyond the basic requirements of the client's needs through, being innovative in our approaches, and acting with humility, care, and wisdom. It is our aim to leave a positive and lasting impression on every client that we work and interact with.
The issue of consultants adding value to the clients and organizations that hire them is a long standing one. Various reports and publications from such authorities as the World Bank, Management Consultancies Association, and Harvard Business School all provide compelling discussions and findings on the benefits of using consultancies. Aside from the approaches outlined above, consultants can add value to projects and initiatives in other and interesting ways, especially through opportunities which may arise during implementation and teachable moments along the way.
As consumers, organizations, markets, and nations continue to be impacted and transformed by the effects of globalization and technology, we will need to develop increasingly novel ways of meeting the emerging needs and demands of our clients. Our team continues to ready itself for the changes to come, one of which is maintaining the quality and professionalism of our service offerings, especially if we are to demonstrate our value and importance to the clients that we ultimately seek to serve.