Consulting Industry Best Practices Trends: A Snapshot of Ongoing Initiatives

How are consultants incorporating best practices into their work?

Best practices are used throughout all industries, and consultants often need to be experts in understanding the content of these guidelines. Sometimes, consultants even spearhead the development of best practices. A multitude of such efforts have been developed or are under way.

The styles and formats of best practice documents are varied and can be as simple as a blog post or as comprehensive as a set of industry standards published by a professional association. Even service providers to consultants can offer their advice for best practices, such as suggested guidelines for negotiating or for invoicing.

A recent survey found that consultants, indeed, are using best practices more frequently. The 14th Annual Women In Consulting (WIC) survey found that consultants are more frequently using best practices in their daily work projects as compared to previous years. The best practices encompass decisions on business structure, management of employees and subcontractors, billing, networking, and marketing strategies. Indeed, best practices can be used throughout the entire work flow of a consulting firm.

How are consultancies using best practices?

Kennedy Consulting Research & Advisory (now acquired by ALM Intelligence) published a best practice report regarding human resources management within consulting firms. They noted the differences in HR governance when comparing a large multinational consulting firm with a boutique consultancy, for example. The paper reviews how the aspects of profitability and predictability should be part of all consultancy HR management frameworks. With the complex staffing models and virtual/outsourced staff of modern consultancies, this best practice document attempts to make HR personnel aware of these challenges and enable them to manage them efficiently.

Even creating Internet content can have a best practices standard. Regarding consulting firms’ website content within a thought leadership perspective, AMCF and The Bloom Group suggested three best practices. Based on surveys of 700 clients of consulting firms, the three guidelines for building a consulting website’s leadership content are: have a centralized location for content (such as on the firm’s main page); the thought leadership content is gated off from other content so it stands out; and provide content that is interactive with website visitors.

The desire for best practices can even appear in niche specialty industries. For example, the Global Wellness Institute has a dedicated page on their website that is focused on setting up best practices for consultants in the spa and leisure industry. The page acknowledges the varying experiences of the industry’s consulting professionals. They explain that they believe that a spa consultant should have first-hand knowledge of running a spa. The group also aims to develop guidelines for choosing a consultant, map out the various consulting areas of expertise, mentor individuals who want to become consultants and ultimately be a “global voice” for spa consultants.

Some consultancies have even developed their own in-house best practices. An example is Stone Technologies Consulting, a manufacturing consultancy, which developed their IMAP™ Integrated Manufacturing Application Process. This solution is described on the firm’s website as allowing them to rapidly identify and document the requirements of users, critical business processes and business case justifications

Conclusion

The number of processes and industries that may incorporate best practices may seem to be endless. Consultants appear to be increasingly using best practices or leading the way toward the development of them.