From the projects described in this chapter, it appears that consultants have three distinct roles to play when it comes to implementing electronic trading initiatives.
The first, not surprisingly, relates to the technology itself. Part of the role of Unisys, in working with the ODPM, was to advise on which technology to use and how to make it work in practice. Knowledge of state-of-the-art developments and new applications was clearly an essential component in making this work. Similarly, CSC Computer Sciences' work with BAE Systems depended on expert knowledge of how complex and disparate legacy systems could be linked together in practice.
That complexity gives rise to the second role. In environments where there are likely to be multiple hardware and software suppliers (as Unisys found with e-voting), as well as multiple internal stakeholders, coordination is critical. When the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit hired PA Consulting Group to help with the development of its portal, the consultants' role was as much about creating a structure that people would want to contribute to and to use. Having helped with the process of selecting the right technology suppliers, Impact Plus worked with Aon to integrate the vastly different streams of work involved in moving their staff from paper-based processes to electronic systems.
However, perhaps the most important role the consultants in these cases play is as bridges between the ‘pull' and ‘push' aspects of electronic trading. As with PA's work with the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit, part of their role is balancing technological simplicity with having sufficient, high-quality content to appeal to a diverse group of potential users. As with CSC's work at BAE Systems, part of their role is to bring together different platforms and systems without constraining the business.