Why value-based consulting?

“Our purpose as a business is to enable organisations to understand, measure and deliver value using modern technologies. We deliver, without all the jargon, for and through our communities, with diversity and inclusion at the heart of all our teams.”

So many consulting firms are focused on delivering the bottom line that they take their eye off the prize of truly helping their customers. I’ve had plenty of experience doing this and wanted to change. It is clearly a fine balance but one that needs to be addressed and one that will only be accentuated by the acquisition of many SME technology consulting firms here in the UK.

Background

Behaviours are driven by our culture. If our culture rewards us by how big our delivery teams are onsite then – guess what – we will focus on putting more people onsite (land and expand).

It’s hard to break this cycle if this is what we’re rewarded for. So many organisations don’t manage internally, via outcomes, and focus on tasks or tickets without really understanding why they’re delivering projects and what value they deliver.

A different option

I’d previously had a couple of conversations with Dan North, Simon Wardley and Barry O’Reilly about the future of the business.

Dan is an expert in Test-Driven Development (TDD), Simon invented Wardley Maps, and Barry is a well-respected business advisor and author. They’re all hugely successful and are advocates of outcome-based approaches, linked to the value delivered.

I wanted to focus the business on impact rather than just growth. Value-based consulting is not a new concept. In the pharmaceuticals’ world, for example, companies would often get together to split the costs of research and development, but they’d also then split the profits. Everyone was happy. Dan, Simon, and Barry have all delivered in a value-based way on projects in the past but as yet, no company in technology consulting has made this their mission.

Our long-term goal is to create a value-based consulting business delivered by our diverse communities, but we need an iterative approach. So, here goes…

We’re looking to progress this value-based offering in four phases:

Phase 1 is underway. We’ve created a unique delivery model and have a small number of customers operating with this model. We form small teams of SMEs who are paid on the outcome of bi-weekly sprints rather than time or effort. We have to create and demonstrate value every two weeks in order to be paid. We want to increase this footprint.

Phase 2 will provide a framework for understanding the value we deliver through metrics. Our head of delivery and legend in residence, Andrew Gordon-Brooks, is currently working on this. I’m sure we will base this on stuff already out there, like Accelerate, but we’ll add our own flavour to it.

Phase 3 will test this framework and use a relational contract, based on risk and reward, to see if our hypothesis works. Do these value-based contracts create better and stronger relationships and, in turn, work better commercially for our communities? If this works, we’ll look to push a number of our customers onto these frameworks and commercial agreements.

Phase 4 will roll this out across our customers and create a consulting business focused and rewarded on the value we deliver to them through our diverse and inclusive communities.

Achieving measurable goals

We’re looking to develop a non-adversarial relationship with our customers, where we’re jointly responsible for achieving business goals with the customer (there should be both an upside and a downside). We want stronger and better relationships driven by mutual understanding.

The importance of content

I love to share ideas and learn from others so posting this content will hopefully stimulate plenty of conversation and thought for us all to learn and improve, in particular in relation to the world of technology consulting and value-based consulting.

If we’re going to achieve our goal of building a value-based consulting business, we will need help, ideas, and learnings from everyone, so please get involved.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this. Please reach out if you’d like to discuss anything directly.

Patrick Crompton, CEO