More and more work is being done on a project, rather than permanent, basis. Organizations are becoming portfolios of opportunities and resources: some of those resources will come from outside suppliers, such as consulting firms, who offer experience and specialist knowledge.
In this environment, collaboration - across internal divisions, with external partners - will be key. As the case studies in this book show, genuine collaboration is best secured at two levels: the corporate (shared risks and rewards) and the individual (personal chemistry).
The most important reasons for choosing a particular consulting firm are that firm's ability to deliver, experience and specialist knowledge. Clients are also more interested in originality than in a firm's size, geographical coverage, or even its reputation.
Both clients and consultants recognize that getting buy-in from all those involved is perhaps the most serious obstacle to effective collaboration. However, consultants appear to underestimate the cultural challenges they face and the constraints their clients may be operating under.
Effective relationships are characterized by openness, honesty and trust. Trust can only be built up by individuals working together over a period of time; it's not something that can be transmitted by a consulting brand.
Clients believe relationships are forged at middle management levels, whereas consultants tend to think in terms of building top-level relationships only.
The keys to building effective relationships are: focus and accountability; leadership; and flexibility.
Consultants are very likely to meet or exceed client expectations in terms of increased productivity, revenue growth and improved management capability. However, outsourcing and change management clients appear to be more satisfied than IT and strategy consulting clients.