Why an end-to-end transformation partner benefits delivery

03 September 2020 Consultancy-me.com 6 min. read
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Companies that launch strategic change programmes typically work with different types of consultants throughout the project lifecycle. In the early stages, strategic consultants are engaged, and typically hand over then takes place to delivery consultants for the execution phase. However, according to Samantha Rowles from Serco, there is a growing case for using an end-to-end transformation partner.

The debate on using specialised consultants for specific activities versus a single multidisciplinary firm has been around for decades. Specialised consultancies are considered to bring more expertise to the table when needed, and meanwhile, creating an environment of competition between consultancies is viewed as beneficial to costs.

Yet with a continued number of large programmes that fail to meet expectations, in part due to a fragmented consultancy approach, as well as calls for greater accountability and transparency, there is a growing number of experts that advocate the use of a single transformation partner. In their view, a backdrop of growing complexity leans for a holistic approach to change, one which down the line provides clients with an enhanced experience while driving cost-savings.

Samantha Rowles, Director of Growth Operations and Enablement at Serco in the Middle East, is one such advocate. In discussion with Consultancy.org, she highlights how she has over and over seen companies face a flaw in the mainstream consultancy approach. “Typically, a consultant comes on board, reviews what the client would like to achieve and then shares the processes and activities that will get the company there. But therein lies a challenge – the company may need yet another company to come in and actually deliver the results.”

Samantha Rowles, Director of Growth Operations and Enablement, SercoShe points out how consultants are commonly a hands-off, theoretical entity that can set the stage for what these companies like to achieve and potentially help them find a partner who can deliver it. “But their ideas are often generic in ambition and lacking in practical application to achieve successful execution.”

As a result, consultants working on strategy, business planning and pre-delivery “often overpromise”, as there “isn’t a commitment to execute delivery and the provider, in-turn, commits to delivering a solution that may be beyond their capabilities.”

This can come with a hefty price tag to clients. With plans unaligned to delivery feasibility, they then need to be revised, including damage control to key stakeholders. Or, if misalignment is spotted further down the chain, more costs need to be made to fix issues or revise initial scoping.

Unified accountability

There is however a solution to this, says Rowles: “Using a single provider to both consult and deliver.” While this may not be possible for all types of projects (e.g. compliance, agreements with funders, conflict of interests), she advises clients to at the onset look into this possibility from a strategic, legal and compliance angle.

Rowles: “By outsourcing to one company, a huge amount of risk and complexity is mitigated. The unification created by aligning the design of service with its delivery means that solutions are realistic, tangible and completely deliverable. A sole provider will not set themselves up for failure, nor will they load-up their consultative piece of work with unachievable goals and promises, leading to a sub-par, disappointing end point.”

The lack of a requirement to tender for a second provider further along the process strengthens this unification, as the deliverability of the solution is completely controlled in-house by one party, with no fragmentation of accountability and responsibility. “Accountability is in fact strengthened as there is no separate consultant party that can walk away at the end of their commitment, leaving the service provider to flounder during an undeliverable solution. In addition, this reduction in the number of involved parties can often result in a solution that is cheaper than the market can offer through separate parties.”

In her view, there’s no clearer example of where this can work than in the digital asset management space. “Rather than the traditional approach of using one company to procure and implement the system and another company to deliver and manage the system, a single-source approach can instead produce much more effective asset lifecycle management and asset performance results.”

“By building a trusted relationship with a single consultancy, clients can save money, enhance services and set realistic, achievable goals in their strategies.”

“By using a single provider, that is technology agnostic to the different systems on the market, who can procure, implement, manage and maintain the optimum solution to meet the current and future needs; clients can expect a more progressive approach of continuous improvement where maintenance is seen as an investment, and not an expense, as clients have greater transparency and accuracy on future capex and opex decision making in a way that truly reflects the condition of their facilities,” says Rowles.

“Companies that are already moving toward this combination of consultation and delivery are honing their go-to-market strategy by enhancing their own internal capabilities, meaning they can offer clients a larger package of services under one, cost-effective approach. Procurement becomes streamlined and implementation becomes faster allowing clients to realise benefits sooner.”

Walking the talk

According to Rowles, who has been working on the ground in the region for around a decade, Serco is a firm believer in this integrated approach to consulting, positioning itself as a trusted partner for both strategy and execution. “We are leading the way by consolidating our broad capabilities into packaged solutions that can be refined to each client’s exact requirement.”

As an example, Serco operates their ExperienceLab brand as a wrap-around to their core strategy of managing clients’ assets, people and data. This places end-user experience at the heart of everything they do. “ExperienceLab conducts empirical research on the user experience of our clients’ target population. Our consultative approach takes the findings and creates bespoke solutions to enhance user experience that is then integrated into our core service delivery of managing assets, people and data.”

Ultimately, this approach helps Serco improve client experience whilst driving operational efficiencies and delivering a quality service to the benefit of clients – “all achieved through partnership with just one company,” says Rowles.

Meanwhile, the centralisation of accountability means that Serco can collaborate as a true partner, which means that the firm can work to manage budgets effectively and to deliver solely on one goal with fewer roadblocks to success. “By building this trusted relationship between client and consultant-provider, clients can save money, enhance services and set realistic, achievable goals in their strategies.”