There are two questions you need to ask the next time you're engaging a professional services firm
There are two questions you need to ask the next time you’re engaging a professional services firm
Question 1 is straight forward. There should be recent (and in the same sector/industry) examples of successful delivery of a similar scale – measured in terms of team size, budget and public profile. But there should also be consistency in team composition. It’s critical to get teams (or key members from that team) that have previously delivered results. Question 2 is a little more subjective but in our 15 years’ experience it is a key point of difference when looking for firms that will ‘go the extra mile’.
In Part 1 (Working in Blended Teams) of our Policy Implementation Insights we looked at the benefits of delivering government policy through “blended teams” – a team that combines your team’s skills and resources with external expertise from a professional services firm. The success of your blended team depends on finding the right professional services firm.
Senior commitment can make or make break your next blended team. There are numerous examples where firms only commit senior resources (i.e. at the principal and partner level) one day in every month – normally coinciding with a board or program meeting. Lack of senior commitment is routinely listed as one of the major risk factors for blended teams involved in major programmes of work.
A better model sees senior resources co-located on site – very much in the style of ‘management by walking around’. This ensures senior resources remain connected. What does that mean for you? Your team gets to work alongside an experienced person(s) that they can learn from, ask questions of and go to for help. You also benefit from another set of eyes and ears but with the experience to analyse how things are really going, and if necessary work with you to find and deliver solutions.
At the very least your blended teams need weekly face to face contact with senior resources (and daily email/telephone access). But better again would be face to face contact 2 to 3 times per week. The increased visibility builds trust within the blended team – a key factor in identifying problems early.
Get the best out of your blended team – look for external resources with a proven track record and make sure you are getting that day to day senior commitment.
In our next part of our Insight series we will look at Building the Right Governance Framework.
In the meantime if you have any questions about the Apis Insights or would like to know more about our services contact us.
Apis Partner, Dr Nigel Nutt, recently presented at the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) Annual Symposium
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