The Forum researched the views and experience of many of the UK’s top procurement professionals with responsibility for buying professional services, particularly consulting. They were asked about the importance of different stages of consulting projects for their overall success, how their own organisations perform as clients of consulting firms and where they think there is most room for improvement.
Here are 3 key findings from the Forum’s research:
1. Defining business needs is the most important stage of the consulting project
Procurement professionals believe strongly that the early stages – even the pre-stages – of a consulting project are the most important to its eventual success.
This is consistent with other evidence that early action to accurately define a business need and to specify the deliverable outcomes of a project strongly influences whether a project will be a success.
That said, all of the stages in the consultancy buying process scored highly with very few respondents believing that any of them were of relatively low significance.
2. Procurement professionals are critical of their own organisation’s ability to derive full value from their engagement with management consulting firms
The research asked respondents to rate their own organisation’s performance against each stage in the consultancy buying process. Procurement professionals are aware of weaknesses in their own organisation’s performance and are particularly critical of their evaluation of both specific projects and the performance of suppliers. On average, their estimate of their firm’s performance is nearly 30% lower than their view of each stage’s importance. Compared with the estimates of the importance of each of these stages of consulting projects, these results show a dramatic drop in reported performance. Procurement professionals are not even confident that their organisations are choosing the right consultancies to deliver best value.
There is clearly significant room for improved practice, behaviours and outcomes.
3. Procurement professionals are enthusiastic about good practice materials and guidance
The procurement of professional services – and consulting services in particular – is not easy. It requires specialist skills and knowledge and raises many issues that are quite foreign to other areas of procurement.
Two areas where procurement professionals believe that good practice guidance and tools could make most difference to their organisations stand out: selection of the right consultancy supplier and the evaluation of the overall value delivered by the project. Participants in the survey suggest that performance on these tasks could improve by as much as 50%.
The Blueprint material can be found on the CBF’s newly created online portal ‘CBF Blueprint’ which documents good practice in the buying and provision of consulting.
Anyone engaged in the buying of consulting services, together with all employees of MCA member firms, can register and access the combined expertise and good practice advice from the Forum for free. Non MCA members can get involved through a LinkedIn group. Over 100 different buying organisations are already represented in the Forum, many from FTSE100-250 companies, as well as a number of organisations from the public sector.