Editor’s note: Today’s guest opinion is by Dr. Eric Threatt, president of Consultant Development Group Inc.A slow economy, corporate scandals and the globalization of professional services have converged in a way that I have never seen before, in spite of my many years in the consulting industry.

As president of Consultant Development Group, which provides advisory and training services to professional services companies and consulting organizations, I witness on a daily basis the challenges facing professional services providers as a result of this changing climate.

In order to remain competitive, we must adjust to this new world – but how?

To answer that question, Consultant Development Group hosted the region’s first Professional Services Roundtable recently to identify and address consulting and services challenges as well as service quality issues in the consulting and professional services industries.

Roundtable participants included senior level executives from information technology, healthcare, energy, and financial industries, professional associations and academia. Organizations in attendance included: IBM, Duke Energy, Wachovia, Larson Allen, Lash Group, Project Managers Inc., Innolect, Parks Consulting, UNC Charlotte, the North Carolina Electronics and Information Technology Association, and the Carolina Angel Forum.

Wide array of challenges

Participants discussed the recent global and economic events, which have had a dramatic impact on the professional services industry. While the 1990s proved very successful for most consulting and services organizations, the turn of the century brought with it new challenges. Recent trends in the professional services industry include:

  • Decreased spending due to budget

  • Increased sales cycles
  • Shorter project durations
  • An emphasis on quality and value solutions.

Successful services organizations have kept pace with these changing times, improving internal efficiency and focusing on clients’ needs.

The services industry is shifting from a focus on “products and projects” to “solutions.”

Successful strategies in this new environment include: identifying needs, developing unique solutions, implementing these solutions, and clearly demonstrating value before, during and after the project.

Finding some answers

We didn’t find the answers to all our questions, but the discussion did result in specific recommendations for how the industry can improve its ability to provide solutions to meet clients’ needs.

As an example, one of those recommendations is that we partner for success, which may require teaming with traditional competitors and looking at applicable solutions in other industry fields.

Other specific recommendations addressed such issues as strategy alignment, quality processes, training and clarifying value.

Our discussion will continue. In addition to expanding the dialogue in Charlotte, we’ll be conducting another Roundtable in Research Triangle Park in Fall 2003. In the meantime, I invite you to be a part of the process by reading our comprehensive white paper available from info@consultingquality.com.

For more information, contact Consultant Development Group’s
Charlotte office at 704-588-7998, the RTP office at 919-368-0048 or email info@consultingquality.com