Roundtable showcases campaign for consultancy change

Industry roundtable event discusses the launch of Consultancy 4.0, a new campaign to showcase and highlight the changing offering from today's consultancy firms. Rob O'Connor reports.

Consultants, clients and other stakeholders across the construction industry need to work better together with a collaborative approach that realises the full potential - and value - of the supply chain was the key conclusion of an Infrastructure Intelligence Live roundtable held today to launch the new Consultancy 4.0 campaign and website.

The Consultancy 4.0: Delivering consultancy in a changing world roundtable was chaired by Andy Walker, editor of Infrastructure Intelligence and the panellists included Emma-Jane Houghton, commercial director of the UK New Hospital Programme at the Cabinet Office, Paul Tremble, chief strategy officer, WSP and chair of ACE’s Future Markets group, Peter Reekie, chief executive of the Scottish Futures Trust, Tony Slater, alliance manager at Highways England and Hannah Vickers, chief executive at the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE).

Vickers said that she saw Consultancy 4.0 as the start of a period of engagement with clients to highlight the changing role of consultancy and she hoped that clients would also engage actively with the campaign. While recognising that it was always challenging to take a different approach, Vickers said that the rewards for both clients and consultants were potentially significant if they both embraced change together.

Paul Tremble expressed his hope that the new Consultancy 4.0 website would become to be seen as the place for clients to go to find out about industry best practice in the consultancy sector and prove to be a catalyst for more knowledge sharing throughout the industry. Tremble argued for a constructive and pragmatic approach which recognised where consultants were now on their change journey while pushing the envelope on how working relationships and commercial frameworks could change to aid improvement. 

Emma-Jane Houghton enthusiastically welcomed the new campaign, praising ACE for an important initiative for the industry. She also had a warning for the industry too. “The ambition is there (for change) but there is still work to do to educate and build confidence in that client group that there is a different way of doing things,” she said. Houghton also cautioned that consultancies also needed to reach out to clients and have that dialogue that was needed in an honest and open way.  

Peter Reekie said that “Enhancing the value that consultants can add is a key aim of the Scottish Futures Trust” and he welcomed the Consultancy 4.0 campaign as a step towards achieving that. Reekie said that ACE’s earlier Future of Consultancy campaign had played an important role in bringing new thinking to the sector and he believed that there was a real opportunity for change. “Clients are starting to think in different ways and we need to understand better those wider aims they want to achieve like net zero and social value,” he said.

Tony Slater wanted to see consultants taking more of a stake in the whole project in order to provide increased value to clients and he was really keen for them to bring that approach to the table. He also recognised that clients also needed to change the way that they tendered for projects to avoid getting standard answers to questions and to encourage more creativity, strategic thinking and an ‘out-of-the-box’ approach that would more clearly demonstrate the value that he knew that consultancy firms could provide but too often did not talk about.

The roundtable also heard that the Consultancy 4.0 campaign had identified four new consultancy roles and 12 standardised consultancy services, providing additional options to tailor the client offering. The campaign website at outlined the four new roles as follows.

  1. Strategic Advisory / Solution Definition: Providing input and expert advice around the strategic challenges affecting a client’s asset base through system thinking expertise. Examples could include masterplanning of cities or tackling cross cutting challenges such as net zero.
  2. Operational Advisory: Providing input and expert advice around operational challenges affecting a client’s asset base. This will include ongoing partnerships as well as one-off commissions. Examples could include enhancing the productivity of an asset or tackling cross-cutting challenges such as net zero.
  3. Solution Development and Delivery: Delivering defined products and solutions to a client, including design delivery, assessments and surveys, or business cases.
  4. Non-Construction Solutions and Delivery: Full solutions and benefits delivered without the need for construction. Examples could include digital solutions, or social solutions which influence behaviours.

Both Vickers and Tremble urged participants to engage with the Consultancy 4.0 campaign by providing case studies for use on the website and also to engage in constructive dialogue across the industry. Houghton said that those conversations needed to be honest, with a realistic assessment from both sides of what was possible while realising that change was needed and had to happen. Reekie and Slater said that they looked forward to constructively engaging with the campaign over the coming months and welcomed the initiative from ACE which they hoped would make a difference in the way that clients and consultants worked together.

Click here to watch a recording of the Consultancy 4.0: Delivering consultancy in a changing world roundtable.

The Infrastructure Intelligence LIVE series of events is organised in association with our Events and Communications Strategic Partner, BECG

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