by Brian King
A funny thing happened along the way to specialization. The industry has been talking less about Business Analysis and more about Business Analysts. Similarly, we hear less about Project Management and more and more about Project Managers and their myriad of certifications. Somewhere along the line, conclusions have been drawn that a Business Analyst is what you need to perform Business Analysis, and Project Managers are needed in order to manage projects. Throw into the mix things like Quality Assurance and Data Analysis, and a relatively small project suddenly becomes a minimum four-person team of specialists. Kenway Consulting seeks to change this perception.
At some of Kenway Consulting’s larger clients, we are living a new reality. When our clients ask us to provide them a Business Analyst, we speak in terms of the service of Business Analysis. When they ask for a Project Manager, we suggest that they may need Project Management. And how the model is manifesting, is significantly reducing costs, increasing efficiencies and minimizing hand-offs, all of which is resulting in increased client satisfaction and client retention.
The success of this new resourcing strategy is rooted in two main factors. First, the individuals Kenway brings to its engagements are proficient at a plurality of services. In the example above, we’ll bring individuals to the table that will perform the Project Management, Business Analysis, Quality Assurance and Data Analysis all rolled into one person in one chair. Secondly, at our clients with multiple Kenway resources, we create an intra-client variable workforce, where Kenway draws on the specific skills and experiences of the “boots on the ground”. When new needs are expressed, we evaluate the skills and bandwidth of our existing team, provide a cost/benefit analysis of slowing/reprioritizing work vs. adding new people, and create a game plan to address their needs while minimizing costs, increasing efficiencies and avoiding unnecessary onboarding of new resources.
It is simply common sense to recognize that the utilization of a team of savvy resources familiar with that specific client would be more optimal than introducing a staff augmentation model constantly adding new resources. The basic principles of addressing our clients’ needs this way are threefold: First, minimize client costs through thoughtful and deliberate staffing; only increasing bandwidth when additional bandwidth is absolutely necessary. Secondly, leverage knowledge on the ground to the greatest extent possible; regardless of whether or not new resources are introduced, we must flatten learning curves through all means. Lastly, avoid resource specialization so that fewer people can perform more services without unnecessary headcount fluctuations through the lifecycle of a project.
Case in point, at a large Financial Services Institution, Kenway Consulting had been performing a host of roles on a host of projects for several years. The model was very much in line with the client’s desire to utilize staff augmentation to address their resource gaps. However, as Kenway Consulting continued to win more of these roles at this client, and as our client-specific knowledge base continued to expand, the cost benefit of adding new resources (from Kenway or otherwise) as opposed to leveraging the ones on the ground transformed the relationship from staff augmentation to consulting. Kenway approached the client and proposed a consultative model. Let us perform your business analysis, as opposed to providing Business Analysts. Let us perform your project management, as opposed to providing Project Managers. The nuance has been subtle, and often needs reinforcement. However, the results are unmistakable.
The early returns from that client (and others) are that it is working, and working well. Clients have seen Kenway take on new Statements of Work without bringing on new resources and with cost-neutral results. Through creative prioritization and thoughtful allocations of work across client and consultant teams alike, spend is down and satisfaction is up. From the Director of Procurement at that large Financial Services Institution, “your creativity in partnering with (us) to share resources across projects to minimize overall cost to the bank is greatly appreciated”. I love when clients do our sales work for us.