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Fighting the big consultancies

#1 Fighting the big consultancies
09/11/2013 20:01


What are some of the ways for freelancers to challenge the bigger consultancies? I often find myself surrounded by a bunch of consultants from same consulting group, working on different teams, talking the same language, sharing insider info within their own, and trying to sneak in more of themselves. I have been surviving for now but these days it is very common for them to ramp up their teams with offshore resources and effectively lowering their prices. How are people in the similar situation dealing with this? What is the best way to fight these wars?


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#2 RE: Fighting the big consultancies
09/11/2013 20:44

Freezing to intel1 (#1)


Sorry are you asking is there any way a single person can challenge some of the biggest PS firms in the world?

Are you REALLY asking this??!

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#3 RE: Fighting the big consultancies
10/11/2013 21:21

Anon MCs to intel1 (#1)

Something tells me I'm going to enjoy Coolios response to this thread tomorrow...

Anyway, like any good employee I am doing a quick check of the emails to see what awaits me on Monday morning. While there, also thought of checking good ol' Top Cons.

Intel, first of all let's be very honest here that on average;

- when a Contractor gets asked by a client to help hiring extra resource "short term", he does not sit there and say

Oh yes let's get one of the big 4 in.

He says instead, yes let's get some more contractors in! He will argue that they are cheaper and better than those overpriced consultants

- when an MC gets asked same by client, funnily enough he says let's get some more consultants. He argues that yes they are more expensive, but they have a huge knowledge base behind them and can tap into it all the time etc

I'm afraid it's like Hamilton / Jenson, Senna / Prost and the rest. Ultimately we are in the same team for the client, but we all know deep down that we are also in aggressive competition with each other. A consultant would not bat an eyelid at booting out a contractor to get another consultant in and I'm afraid I have never seen contractor tears when a consultant replaced a long term consultant.

I know this doesn't help you, but hope you it provides some explanation

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#4 RE: Fighting the big consultancies
10/11/2013 22:52

Bushy Eyebrow Partner to Anon MCs (#3)

Build relationships... then you'll find you don't have to worry so much about competing with others

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#5 RE: Fighting the big consultancies
11/11/2013 00:19

intel1 to Freezing (#2)

Yes sir, I am !

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#6 RE: Fighting the big consultancies
11/11/2013 00:24

intel1 to Bushy Eyebrow Partner (#4)

Build relationships... then you'll find you don't have to worry so much about competing with others

Sure that helps. I have been doing this for a loooong time now!

Anyone with similar experience having broken through this? Have people tried membership networks and succeeded with that?

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#7 RE: Fighting the big consultancies
13/11/2013 12:29

Mr Cool to intel1 (#1)

When I first started contracting I was terrified when a BiG4 first came on board. I assumed they'd force out all the contractors and I'd be out on the pavement. What I actually discovered was....

At a grand a day I cost my clients the same as a Manager yet provide Director level or even Partner level work/input/value/experience.

I actually know more about my areas of specialism than 90% of the generalist from Big4

I can make oodles of money without resorting to "pyramid selling", or "A Team, B Team" switching - both of which are more or less mandatory for Big4's to make their target profit.

I would NEVER advise you to attempt to compete with the bigger firms on their terms. Instead you should be instilling fear into them - "hell, there's that independent guy that the client has been working with for years - better make sure we keep him on side".

One thing I always do is position myself between the client and the consultancy team wherever possible. Volunteer to the client to brief the consultants and get them up to speed. Be helpful and friendly to them, but make sure you go back to the CLIENT and debrief him/her on good and bad aspects of how the consultancy team are moving forward. Volunteer AGAIN - this time to review the consultancies proposed scope of work, plan, etc. Use this as an opportunity to warn the client of "fat" or A Team/B Team" switches creeping in. Make sure the CLIENT starts to see you as someone that he can delegate some of the oversight of the consultancy resource to.

And always remember - you're the one that's gone independent. The others are wage slaves, busting their bones, hoping against all odds that they might suck-up their way to partner one day, and all the time terrified that going home at 9.20pm on the night of their daughters 4th birthday might lead to a downgrade in their annual review.

Stare the wooses down man. There's only one daddy at your client and when you look in the mirror, he damn well looks a lot like you.

- No offense to the many sterling professionals and very nice people who happen to be salaried employees of consultancies! :-)

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#8 RE: Fighting the big consultancies
15/11/2013 11:51

Mr Cool to Mr Cool (#7)

Hmm - clearly no offense taken!

So what's the opposite view. How do Big4 consultants deal with pesky independent one-man-and-his-dog consultants messing up their pitch....?

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#9 RE: Fighting the big consultancies
15/11/2013 13:22

Anon MCs to Mr Cool (#8)

Oh come on Coolio you already know the answer to that! Like me you handle those type of scenarios every so often:

MC Strategies:

- Ignore them. That is one way I saw it when I was in MC. Nothing direct, but contractor not involved in this or that. Key meetings they get the minutes but not the invite. Senior Stakeholder discussions mention MC names but not contractor. Use advice from others but not contractor

- Minimise their role. Similar to above. Try to take as much as possible, chip by chip - bit by bit from contractor to MC team. Volunteer outside meetings for bits you know the contractor would have done. Envisage what the contractor will do next and make sure the MC does it instead

Remember Coolio, noone in an MC is going to kick a big fuss or do things outright or directly, if you are good at what you do which I believe you are then they will always go indirectly especially when you have a close relationship with the client. They will take a step at a time at showing how it will be far better for your role to be done by an MC rep, or wipe out the need for your role

As an example, I once worked for a Partner who told us outright in an internal team meeting "I hate contractors!!! They annoy the hell out of me!!!". It was a client programme with a mix of us and contractors. I think he saw all that cheese and wanted far more slices. Ohhh how I wish I could see him now.

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#10 RE: Fighting the big consultancies
17/11/2013 08:16

Bushy Eyebrow Partner to Anon MCs (#9)

The contractor is one and you are many.

Find the sick kid in your team and stick him in an all day meeting with the contractor in a tiny meeting room.

Then offer to cover for the contractor while he's off with the flu...

(Joking by the way)

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#11 RE: Fighting the big consultancies
17/11/2013 13:08

Mr Cool to Bushy Eyebrow Partner (#10)

Huh! Most decent contractors would simply kill and eat a weak sickly analyst...

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#12 RE: Fighting the big consultancies
18/11/2013 10:57

Anon MCs to Mr Cool (#11)


I wish I could believe that BEP "was just joking"...

He is a partner after all!?!

I wouldn't be surprised if after a long day we go to cross the street and suddenly headlights turn on ahead and "boomph", car screeches away and one less of us to get in the way of the cheese meister!

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#13 RE: Fighting the big consultancies
18/11/2013 11:41

Bushy Eyebrow Partner to Anon MCs (#12)

...just like when Mr Bean turns the headlights on in his Mini and screeches towards that Reliant Robin that reverses quickly out of the car park and topples over, just so Mr Bean can get through the car park barrier without paying


What with so many sick people in the office I do wonder whether our competitors plant them there to hinder our productivity or something... I saw one guy literally spray a cloud of saliva over the entire project team last week, sneezing and spluttering his way around the office... I affectionately think of him as "Mr Ill"

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