We’ve discussed what asset-based consulting entails before, so I’ll just provide a quick summary. Simply put, the key aspects of asset-based consulting rely on tools and products as its primary assets rather than on human capital. These consulting tools and products can be anything from client discovery or business intelligence tools to analytics software to project management software.
Previously we discussed the Seven Key Stages of a Consulting Project that are common to most consulting engagements with the client. To recap, we outlined the below phases:
- Data Collection/ Discovery
The nomenclature of these phases might vary across consulting firms, but in essence they are universal to the consulting industry. While the seven phases are widely discussed, there is something critical that goes on behind the scenes that may not be as evident as the seven stages of a consulting project. There are three crucial aspects to the consulting engagement that occur in a cyclic manner through each one of these phases of the consulting process. These three key aspects are Discover, Design, and Assure (DDA). I discussed these three aspects in my book, 9Lenses:Insight to Action, but today, especially as asset-based consulting is gaining ground in the consulting industry, Discover, Design, and Assure are also becoming more relevant and evident than ever before.
Now that we have a basic understanding, let’s dive deeper into understanding the three key aspects of asset-based consulting’s methodology.
The discovery phase is two-pronged. In the first part, the client discovers the consultant. In the second, the consultant discovers insights about the client. These two prongs of the discovery phase can happen simultaneously. Here is what the “Discover” part entails.
- When a request for proposal comes through (RFP), a consulting firm will typically meet with its teams in order to decide whether or not to bid. Depending on the number of consultants involved and the number available, the bid or no bid decision can be made quickly or can be a more complex process. The more complex the process, the more the need for automation arises.
- Once the firm decides to bid, the team in charge will need more insights about the client from peers and even from the potential client. This part of the client discovery necessitates the use of assets. Rich insights gathered via a great tool allow a consultant to differentiate from the competition and bid more effectively.
- Even after a consultancy wins a bid and kicks off the actual engagement with the client, it continues to discover insights during the post-implementation phase.
From designing a competitive bid to win an account to designing solutions to implement for a client, “Design”, is an integral part of a consulting project. Here’s what the “Design” part entails.
- By gathering insights from his or her peers and the potential client, a consultant is able to design a competitive bid.
- Once the consultant collects data and discovers deep insights about the client’s challenges, he or she will be able to design, recommend, and implement suitable solutions.
- By gathering data from relevant stakeholders within a client’s business, a consultant can design solutions based on insights from people “in the know,” rather than simply recommending solutions as an outsider.
Think about Assure as continuous alignment. In any engagement, a consultant has to assure his or her client of the credibility of the designed solutions. Consultants are however starting to realize that assurance is not something they do towards end of an engagement. “Assurance,” just like discovery and design, is a continuous cycle. Here’s what the “assure” aspect entails.
- As a consultant bids to a client, he/she needs to assure the client of the consulting firm’s credibility and ability to solve a client’s business challenges.
- Assurance also happens as insights are discovered and solutions are designed, in order to convince the clients of the credibility of a solution.
- Finally, assurance happens during the post-implementation phase when a consultant needs to assure a client of project success or address any gaps that arose during the implementation of designed solutions.
The “assure” aspect is a continuous cycle of assessment, planning, measurement, and improvement.
Throughout the Discover, Design, and Assure aspects of the of consulting engagement, it is clear to see that without the use of the right assets (tools or software) that allow a consultant to gain valuable insights with speed and repeatability, a project runs the risk of failing. As many aspects of asset-based consulting become more mainstream, it is crucial for consulting firms to identify and leverage tools that will allow them to operate as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Edwin has authored 9Lenses Insight to Action:A Social Approach to Business Optimization and Snapshot9 What’s Your Picture?:Accelerate Your Business Performance. Click here to download the first chapter of 9Lenses Insight to Action for free!