Why management consulting firms should build strategic agility
February 2024 by Ville Somppi, Vice President at M-Files Management
Management consulting firms face a plethora of modern challenges that are both reshaping the industry and redefining the rules of business engagement. Facing the continuous need for swift and strategic adjustments in order to survive and thrive, building strategic agility is essential, according to Ville Somppi from M-Files.
Customer expectations are shifting; clients are accustomed to the convenience and accessibility digital platforms offer in other sectors, and they expect nothing less from consulting services. Additionally, transparency in pricing and fixed-fee structures are fast becoming non-negotiable terms of engagement, and the days of billing by the hour without clear justification are numbered.
However, demand doesn’t stop at affordability and transparency; clients are also pressing for faster, simpler, and more convenient services, which puts an unprecedented strain on firms still clinging to legacy systems and traditional business models.
Ville Somppi, Vice President at M-Files Management consulting firms of all sorts and sizes that don’t adapt to meet these demands risk obsolescence as clients are more willing than ever to explore alternative advisory providers who can deliver on these fronts.
While customer demands pull businesses in one direction, compliance regulations and security concerns pull them in another. Especially on the security front, the stakes are astronomical. The management consulting sector is a treasure trove of sensitive client data and intellectual property, making it a prime target for cyberattacks.
This is compounded by the labyrinthine information architecture that consulting services rely on, with many using multiple, disconnected systems, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions and multiple network folders across various devices, which can expose vulnerabilities in the network. A single breach can result in severe financial penalties and irreparably damage a firm’s reputation, sometimes leading to a loss of client trust that can never be regained.
Addressing the need for strategic agility
Solid knowledge work automation practices are essential for management consulting firms, and it’s critical that these are established to ensure continuity and ongoing success, regardless of the changing business environment and organisational landscape. Leveraging the latest technological advancements can help firms meet the heightened demands for efficiency, transparency, security, and speed.
Employees’ time often gets tied up in tedious, time-consuming administrative tasks, reducing the amount of time available to spend on other high-value activities and preventing workers from meeting their full billable potential.
Using modern knowledge work automation solutions to streamline workflows and automate routine tasks can free up that valuable time for consultants to focus on complex problem-solving and strategic thinking instead, adding more value to client engagements. The latest solutions also deliver a 360-degree view of information across disparate repositories and information siloes, simplifying operational processes and ensuring information sharing is quick and easy across the business.
Solutions that use innovative metadata-driven architectures can help management consulting firms keep their data and assets secured in an evolving threat landscape. Protecting information based on its type, lifecycle, and intended audiences can be automated, minimising access at any given time. Any changes to processes, organisational structure, or personnel can also be dynamically applied to access rights.
These capabilities greatly reduce the risk of data leaks and mitigate the impact of a potential breach.
Sophisticated solutions that have data security built into their foundations can safeguard critical data and provide a robust first line of defence against cyber threats. What’s more, real-time compliance monitoring tools can also help firms stay ahead of the regulatory curve, letting them adapt to new requirements with minimal disruption.
While technology offers a host of solutions, such tools must be embedded within a broader strategy that aligns with the changing operational landscape. Taking a piecemeal approach to adopting knowledge work automation technology without an overarching vision will likely result in wasted investments and missed opportunities, making a shift towards strategic agility essential.
Strategic agility involves creating a flexible business model that can adapt to changing circumstances swiftly and efficiently while fostering a culture of continuous learning and improvement where innovation is an organisational habit, not a buzzword.
While technology is an enabler, new solutions alone won’t solve the threat of an evolving operational landscape for management consulting firms. It will give firms the tools they need to adapt and thrive; however, it can’t replace the need for a strategic shift in mindset. To achieve success, management consulting firms must be willing to challenge the status quo, question long-held assumptions, and be bold in their strategic decisions.
The rapidly changing business landscape demands nothing less than a complete rethinking of how management consulting firms operate. Those who can successfully adapt will turn challenges into opportunities and risks into rewards.