The three case studies in this chapter all feature overall winners of the MCA's Awards for Best Management Practice. The first two, the International Olympic Committee's work with SchlumbergerSema, now Atos Origin, and PA Consulting Group's work with Westminster City Council, are the Platinum Winners from the 2003 and 2004 awards respectively. The third, Edengene's work with BT Business, won the 2004 award for the best project by a small consulting firm.
Collaboration was important at all levels when Westminster City Council came to reorganize itself around customer needs, rather than internal functions. Long-standing internal boundaries had to be demolished, and there was a danger that, by using external consultants to help, the Council would only succeed in creating new divisions. In fact, the word that is most prominent in this case is ‘help': PA did not carry out the work on the Council's behalf, but helped Council employees to develop their own solutions, ensuring commitment and building skills at the same time. The result was proof that collaborative working enables organizations to do things they could not have done by themselves, that the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts. As Peter Rogers, the Council's Chief Executive, put it: ‘PA Consulting helped develop the vision and turn it into a reality. They brought the necessary skills and experience at the right times and worked with us as true partners, often meeting impossible deadlines in order to achieve a successful implementation.' But the client, too, should take some of the credit. According to PA: ‘The Council is a mature buyer of consulting and understood where to give direction (and in this programme, it was from the very top), how to identify the approach it wanted for its service delivery and where to take the advice of consultants.'
There are few consulting projects where the outputs are as visible as Atos Origin's work for the International Olympic Committee. Sitting in the middle of a complex web of technology partners, the team oversaw the integration of a multitude of disparate systems and was responsible for ensuring their smooth working during the Games themselves. With the entire world watching, and records being broken by hundredths of a second, mistakes were not an option. The key here, along with tremendous amounts of energy and commitment, was getting people to work together.
Small can still be beautiful, as Edengene's work illustrates. A corporation as big as BT might reasonably expect to encounter the armies of consultants of popular folklore, but Edengene chose to put in only a small team, staffed with entrepreneurs and technology experts as well as consultants. Obtaining management buy-in for new ways of stemming customer defections would be fundamental if the initiatives were to succeed, and people might well have been cynical about solutions apparently imposed from the outside. Edengene's role therefore ranged from classic strategy consulting - questioning assumptions about market data, competitor analysis and so on - to developing the business case for the new proposition jointly with BT's own staff, advising on implementation and providing input on areas such as customer experience design and marketing. The key here was the fresh thinking the consulting firm brought to a well-trodden issue. ‘Edengene's input was essential,' summarizes BT's Head of Campaign Management, Vincent Rousselet. ‘In particular, their mix of rigorous analysis combined with creative thinking helped us to define and launch a major new offering in record time. This was more than consulting, it was ground-breaking team working.'