Internal consulting

Published on December 31, 2015   33 min

Other Talks in the Series: Management Consultancy

Hello, I'm Dr. William Trotter. And I'd like to share my thoughts on the emerging role of internal consulting as a key capability for both private and public sector organizations to maximize their value. I'd also like to talk a little bit in this session about the attractiveness of internal consulting as a career path. My observations are based on my personal experience and focus in this area over the last twenty-plus years. Including leading an internal consulting practice at a major international company, providing consulting services as an external consultant to these groups, and being involved in a global network of internal consulting groups, and finally recently publishing a book on the subject.
Let me start by talking about what internal consulting is. It's a very broad area. It really involves employees providing client support services within the enterprise, in a variety of functions. They can either be in a formally designated internal consulting group, or a variety of support or shared service functions. And you can see from the list it just pretty much spans the whole support functions in a company, including project management where the need is for better implementation and change management techniques. And quality management becoming more of a business partner type of role, and that's true for all of these, kind of the transition from sort of a strictly providing certain services in terms of their functional area, to really being more of a business partner type relationship. So you can see it as you look at the list it just spans a lot of areas. Human resources, obviously there, you've gotten a whole question of working with clients around their human capital planning. Information technology really again, this whole business partnering role. So you can see it really spans many areas of the company and many methodology areas too, including the whole process improvement area, the whole planning area, and training development change management. So again, it's a vast area that is really just beginning to be professionalized if you will in terms of methodologies and sharing the best practices and this type of thing.
And then in a broader sense, and many people don't consider themselves internal consultants but they really need those consulting skills. And this includes anyone, as I said before, who supports internal clients in an advisory type of role or that they're as part of their total function they need to get closer to the clients and do more of the planning and consulting type of function with them. Also those that need to use this type of skill to improve overall performance and results of the various organizations. Either they're working within, or their client organizations. Also really, to look at key issues in the enterprise and really again, get more into critical thinking in other areas to kind of work with clients in a more proactive way. Also those serving as change agents, coaching, training, et cetera. And finally pretty much any organization that really needs or any function that needs to work, to really improve the implementation of key projects. In many cases external consultants do the design work and the solution development, if you will, on a particular issue or project or initiative. And the internals work with them to make sure that the implementation is a key part of this and that gets done properly, because the biggest problem in most projects is that they don't get implemented well. And then obviously the whole thing falls apart because the implementation is not there.
Again, the whole need for internal consulting expertise in both public and private sector organizations is increasing rapidly. Why? Because of the current environment where change is happening so quickly that companies need to internalize these capabilities for quick response, for getting smarter, for internalizing the key methodologies they need, for continuous improvement efforts. In other words, they can't just have project by project externals coming in, they need to develop that capability in their organizations. And that was the case with me where I was an external working with a company and they said basically, we need you to come in and really build our internal capabilities so we can have this ongoing knowledge built into our company more and more. Also, companies need to get greater value for their total investment in external consulting. What I find is many companies again are frustrated by the lack of what I call sustainable benefit from their overall investment. That they don't necessarily get the methodologies properly transferred. Again and they don't necessarily have it institutionalized into their company. So basically, the thought here is to work with them and to develop that capability and to look at the total span. And many companies don't even realize their total investment in consulting. When I was an external with a major firm, many clients didn't even want to invest in implementation because they said, well, we have managers to do that so why would we pay an external? So really the challenge of the internals is to educate their internal management staff and process owners on how to really effectively do implementation on projects and then to have a continuous improvement aspect built in. And I think internal consultants can effectively build those bridges not only with their own clients internally, but with the external consultants so they can have a much better total value for the consulting investment of the firm.