Consulting Magazine - Best Practices Webinar
  • One on One

Kennedy Corner

  • »Breaking the Cycle of Volatility and Supply Chain Performance Deterioration

    The great moderation that lasted from the mid-1980s through 2007 was characterized by low volatility and strong gains in business performance that combined in the fashion of a virtuous cycle. The supply chain was a significant beneficiary and source of these gains.
  • »Disruption, Financial Services and the Buffalo Bills
    The year was 1996: Alanis Morissette and the Smashing Pumpkins dominated radio—we still listened to radio back then—while your Internet 1.0 experience began when your dial-up modem screeched for 20 seconds and then connected you to your AOL account. You had mail! It was in that year that Episode 7 of the fourth season of the popular SciFi drama The X-Files aired, during which a conspiracy was laid bare in a secret meeting by powerful men.
  • »It’s a Floorwax... It’s a Dessert Topping... Actually, it’s Both!
    There are few sure things in the world. One might cite death and taxes, but only slightly down the list is the inevitable answer a Big Four consultant provides to the question “What is your firm’s strength?” Everything, of course.
  • »Show Me The Money
    Management consulting is a cash business. Now salaries and bonuses within the consulting industry are certainly not at the stratospheric levels enjoyed by their kindred brethren in investment banking. But consultants generally do realize much-better-than-average wages relative to their counterparts in the corporate world.
  • »Will ‘Knowledge Workers’ (Consultants) Be Replaced by Machines? It’s Possible
    The management consulting industry to date has been largely unscathed by the wave of technological change. However, there are signs that digital technologies are now beginning to disrupt the management consulting industry as well, with potentially deep and far-reaching consequences.
  • »A Force in Consumer Banking
    Banks have been stepping up their customer satisfaction game in recent years against the typical market forces at play. The pace of change has been head-spinning for an industry not well known for its swift response to customers.
» View all

Travel Advisory

  • »Survey: Consultants Are On the Road Again
    After years of fits and starts in an uncertain economy, travel is back in the consulting profession, at least according to the results of our annual Best Places to Stay survey.
  • »Marriott Goes Big in NYC
    Marriott International, Inc. and G Holdings opened what they’re calling an “iconic addition” to the New York skyline, a combined 378-room Courtyard hotel and 261-suite Residence Inn hotel in midtown Manhattan. The $320 million, 68-story property is the tallest single-use hotel in North America.
  • »Best Places to Stay: Travel Bounces Back
    Consultants are on the road again, at least according to the results of our annual Best Places to Stay survey.
  • »FAA: ‘Staffing Challenges’ Causing Delays
    In case you haven’t noticed, non-weather related delays at U.S. airports are on the rise. (And I know you’ve noticed that weather-related delays are definitely on the rise.)
» View all

Book It!

  • »Q&A: Keeping It Simple
    BCG’s Six Simple Rules sets out to simplify some organizational complexity.
  • »Review: Leading the Life You Want
    It seems that everyone has an opinion on work/life balance these days, but Stewart D. Friedman’s Leading the Life You Want isn’t necessarily one of them.
  • »Review: The Culture Map
    Globalization led to the rapid connection of internationally based employees from all levels of multinational companies, and now those same employees are expected to collaborate with colleagues scattered all over the world.
  • »Review: Twitter is Not a Strategy
    Today’s digital frenzy has led many to declare that advertising is dead… or at least dying. Is it?
  • »Excerpt: Procurement as Productivity
    The following is an excerpt from the book Procurement 20/20: Supply Entrepreneurship in a Changing World by a quartet of McKinsey & Company consultants—Peter Spiller, Nicolas Reinecke, Drew Ungerman and Henrique Teixera.
  • »Review: The Risk-Driven Business Model
    Most companies focus their innovation on new products.
» View all

Security Check

New Image
  • Home
  • Columns
  • Exclusives
8 1 2013
»Four Benefits of the Agile Consulting Firm

By Claus Thorsgaard

How agile is your firm? The ability to be agile can result in several key business benefits. It could mean being able to quickly respond to new opportunities, react to change, and adapt to challenges in ways that you never imagined. When agility is embraced in a firm, there are several outcomes: new business wins and efficient responses to change, thus maintaining profitability, happy clients and good positioning for growth.

Win New Business
In the highly competitive consulting market, firms must respond quickly to win new business opportunities—or risk losing a chance at the sale. So how can agility help?

Propose quickly, yet accurately. Agile firms can quickly identify relevant historical client work to serve as insight for new proposals. Looking at similar past work helps determine what led to profitable results last time, which talent was involved, and whether the pricing was competitive, yet profitable. But you don’t have time for long, complicated data-mining; consultants need information on tasks, resources and availability, all in one place. Further, the information must be easily retrieved and sorted along any of the many variables you may be looking for (for example, by client, by vertical, or by service type). Fortunately, modern tools can help transform all of your firm’s past and current work into meaningful on-demand knowledge.

Similarly, an agile firm can easily determine if the right types of resources are available and not soft-booked for future work. Quick identification of current and future capacity helps the firm commit to the timeline and even assign specific, knowledgeable resources if requested by the client. This means having accurate information of current work, upcoming future work and resource availability—organized and noted by skill sets, talent and experience level. The information should be easily retrievable, not locked away in various information silos, and only available to the one team member with access.

Imagine the advantage for a consulting firm that quickly responds to a new business opportunity with an immediate proposal that commits to the resources and timeline, and shows examples of relevant past work. Putting yourself in your prospect’s shoes, which firm would you choose?

Grow Profitably

Even the best-planned consulting engagements are still subject to change: resources can shift, scopes can change, and budgets can fluctuate. Though these changes typically have adverse effects on profit margins, agility helps firms to respond appropriately, thus maintaining, rather than jeopardizing, their expected margin on the work.

Picture an engagement that suddenly expands in scope to add an extra assignment. An agile firm quickly determines who has the appropriate skill and available capacity to take on the additional work—and can see how this additional work will impact current and future work. Doing this means having the right information together; not only so that information is easily accessible, but also so the engagement manager can see the firm-wide cause and effect of making the change.

Picture the alternative: Firms with disconnected information may respond quickly but perhaps incorrectly. Taking on the expanded scope may have negative consequences, which could leave your consulting firm unable to service other work in the pipeline or over-extend its resource capacity.

Over-extending staff can jeopardize employee morale and can lead to robbing other teams of individuals to complete the work, with detrimental effects that include understaffing other projects and delivering a lower quality of work.

Delight Clients 

Agile firms are better positioned to satisfy clients, and manage their expectations. Flexible processes give firms the agility they need to respond to client demands. Consider a client who prefers an invoice that includes a complete breakdown of the work provided, as opposed to a top-line description.

Firms with rigid, inflexible systems may not be able to produce such an invoice, leading to an unsatisfied client. Or they’re left with highly manual processes, which are inefficient and lead to errors, and also affect client profitability. We all want to satisfy, and even delight our clients; wouldn’t you like client satisfaction to be profitable?

Capture Opportunities for Growth
Finally, agile firms are better poised to respond to growth opportunities. Responsive organizations can modify their processes and structure to react to new business opportunities, like new service offerings or expansion into new geographies.

Often, the key to such an agile response lies in systems that can quickly adapt to these opportunities, because minimal internal retooling or reorganization is needed, and also inexpensively, because such systems don’t need inefficient and cumbersome manual steps as a stop-gap while being retooled.

Getting Started

Don’t be overwhelmed. Just keep in mind that agility means accessible information and organization. It’s not about introducing hundreds of new procedures, check-in points or processes; it‘s about empowering staff at all levels with crucial data personalized to the needs of the client or project.

If “growth” and “profitability” are the first words that you want to come to mind as you describe your firm, then “agile” must come close behind. Only when your firm is truly agile can it consistently capture new business, respond quickly to change, and position your firm for continued growth.

Claus Thorsgaard is Deltek’s EVP and general manager, professional services.
»Related Articles
  • Exclusives
  • Platinum Sponsors:


    Gold Sponsors:


    Ernst & Young

    Silver Sponsors:


    Alix Partners

  • Register

    Gold Sponsors:

    Ernst & Young

    Silver Sponsors:

  • Featured Speakers:

    Joseph Kornik

    Joseph Kornik
    Publisher and Editor-in-Chief,
    Consulting magazine

    Brian Murphy

    Brian Murphy
    Chief of Staff, Point B

    Brian Jacobsen

    Brian Jacobsen
    General Manager, Slalom Consulting

    Tom Rodenhauser

    Tom Rodenhauser
    Managing Director, Advisory Services, Kennedy Consulting Research & Advisory

    Sponsor Speaker:

    Drew West

    Drew West
    Director, Product Marketing,

    Sponsored By:

    Deltek Logo


page loading