“Excellent consulting is about relationships”

Nicolas Faure, Partner at Practicus, describes 2015 as a good year. “It was our third year of growth in a row. Revenue went up by 28%. We diversified our portfolio and saw growth in many sectors. Financial services performed particularly well, but we’ve seen expansion in telecoms, media and leisure.” Nicolas attributes this success to Practicus’s approach.

“There is strong demand for our model. It’s a hybrid. At its heart are strong core consulting capabilities: delivery assurance; programme and portfolio management; change and continuous improvement. But we supplement this with our community of experts. Through them we provide a tailored solution, one that is not vanilla- flavoured. We don’t sell a ‘bench’. Everything is bespoke.”

This community of specialists (made of permanent and engaged members) comprises advisers with cross-cutting technical and service-line expertise in everything from corporate governance and risk to business analytics, big data, forecasting and customer experience modelling. It also features experts with deep knowledge of particular sectors and the specific challenges they face.

Nicolas says that Practicus’s community, which the company draws on project by project, is organic, evolving to meet client needs. “But it is also quality assured. Members of our community are subject to our technical and leadership frameworks and standards. We sustain virtual forums for sharing best practice and networking. The community is a club – but it’s not exclusive in the sense of being closed. Indeed its evolution is important to us. For example, there is an emerging Digital subcommunity of disruptors. But to become a member you have to meet our well defined, exacting and non-subjective standards and have the Practicus DNA.” 

For Practicus, 2016 will be what Nicolas terms a Year of Confirmation. “We want to continue our growth and believe we can. But we aim to make it sustainable and systematic. We must grow and understand how we grow. Our mission essentially is to flourish by design, not accident.”

Nicolas believes that there are some obvious threats to clients and to consulting. “The hysteria around Brexit is unwelcome and a distraction, especially since it is creating short-term uncertainty over something which, whatever happens, will take four or five years to play out in practice.” And Nicolas notes that the oil and gas sector, owing to the challenge of the low price of oil, was an exception to Practicus’s overall growth picture in 2015. “However, we mitigated that by merging our work in this area with energy and utilities more generally, and saw significant growth in the new combined market. We are of course ready for when oil and gas comes back on stream. After all, some of the current challenge is cyclical. Remember, the oil price went down to $10 a barrel in the 90s. When times were good, the industry created structures and business assumptions it cannot now afford. Now would be a great time for them to use consulting to help fundamentally reshape their industry. But at the moment they just don’t have the money to spend on it.”

On the whole, Nicolas believes that Practicus can withstand major global shocks because of the level at which the rm operates with clients and the nature of its offer. “Consulting has suffered from reputational issues. But our commitment to excellence in our people means we are willing to challenge the status quo. Excellent consulting is about relationships – but not just any relationships or those driven by the necessity of selling your own employees. By quality assuring our wider community, we can provide a genuinely tailored service based on excellent people and excellent capabilities and by doing this we enhance clients’ feelings about consultancy.” 

Nicolas Faure, Partner at Practicus, was interviewed as part of The definitive guide to UK Consulting Industry Statistic 2016.