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Business consultancies in transition: Flexible, networked – and with a steep learning curve

Best Practice: How the “People Advisory Services (PAS)”-Unit of EY uses a digital Talent Marketplace by Tandemploy for its own transformation – Podcast-interview with Christian Vetter (EY)

At the latest since the onset of the Corona crisis, digital transformation has arrived on the radar of those companies that previously preferred to put off the topic until some distant time in the future. Changing established processes and behaviors, introducing remote work options and digital tools, allowing flexible hours, and all this while also dealing with the other crisis-related consequences for the core business is a huge challenge for many.  Companies that are unsure how to handle these challenges on their own rely on the services of management consultancies. The major consulting firms, in turn, are also transitioning, triggered by growing digitization and changing needs in the working world. 

Both the consulting content and the rules of internal collaboration are affected by the realignment efforts. The stereotypical image of the business consultant working 80-hour weeks, often until the wee hours of the night, all alone in a glass office tower, is completely outdated. The consultancies that support other companies in their digital transformation are the ones that have already adopted flexible work models and collaborate at eye level internally, true to the motto “Practice what you preach”. And they are continuing to transform, because the Corona crisis has not only increased the need for consulting on the customer side but has also upended some of the rules that were considered set in everyday consulting – thus opening up new opportunities.

1. Less travel: More resources for digital development

Four days with the client, one day at the office – that used to be the typical work rhythm of business consultants. Now that business travel has been reduced to a minimum and virtual meetings are commonplace, consulting firms have gained a valuable asset: time. Time to take their own digitization to the next level. Time for personal development, for learning new skills, handling new tools, for the development of new digital and hybrid consulting formats in collaboration with colleagues and customers. This allows them to maintain customer relationships from a distance. At the same time, digital formats offer the opportunity to integrate as many of the customer’s employees as possible into the consulting process at an early stage, thus creating broad acceptance among them for the upcoming changes.

2. Complex consulting jobs: Competence through internal networking

More complex problems on the customer side require more complex structures on the consulting side. In practice, that means there is not just one solution for all. The challenges that companies are facing are often very specific and have to be seen in the context in which the respective organization operates. What a company’s management cannot solve alone, usually cannot be solved by one consultant alone either. Instead, the knowledge, experience, and perspective of various heads on the consultant’s side are needed to find the best solution for the client. On top of that, fast action is required especially in difficult times (so basically whenever business consultancies are brought on board). More and more consultancies are breaking down consulting assignments into small units. They can then match these projects and “gigs” with suitable colleagues in the shortest possible time and thus execute even complex consulting assignments quickly and competently.

3. Social Learning as part of the consulting process

A change process that is imposed from the top down and implemented by external consultants will rarely succeed. Truly sustainable change is only possible if the customer’s employees are on board. This requires a large amount of openness and the ability to listen to the people in the company. It is no longer a matter of presenting pre-fabricated solutions, but of working them out together with the employees, sometimes as a sparring partner and other times as a leader, but always as a team. Social competence beats professional competence, even in the consulting business. This type of collaboration requires practice and confidence in the joint learning and cognition process. Consultants achieve both through ongoing comparison of their own experiences, opinions, and approaches to solutions with those of their colleagues, and through a regular exchange of ideas and learning from one another. If a culture of shared learning prevails internally, the chances of successfully integrating such a culture into the consulting services offered increase immensely.

BEST PRACTICE: Internal networking at EY’s People Advisory Services DACH

The consultants at EY’s People Advisory Services also work in a collaborative and flexible way. With the help of Tandemploy SaaS, the unit, which was already very dynamic before Corona, has, since then, taken its internal networking to the next level. Christian Vetter tells us in the podcast how the team  prepares for complex customer requests and needs and drives its own digitalization.

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