Sheffield Haworth: Partners in the Future – The Commercial Model

There has never been a more exciting – or challenging – time to be a leader in the consulting industry, according to a new report by the Consulting, Technology & Services Practice at Sheffield Haworth and Source Global Research.

In the first of a two-part report series titled ‘Partners in the Future – The Commercial Model’, the paper looks at the role that partners play within their firm’s wider business, and the changes taking place in how firms leverage their partnership to produce commercial success.

A key finding of the report showed that as clients put pressure on consulting firms to provide greater volumes of specialist resources, those firms have had to had to shave the lower tiers of their resource pyramid and change their attitude towards working with freelancers. As a result, partners must shoulder even more of the responsibility for the success of client engagements.

Some other key findings of the report included:

  • While delivering project work for clients still accounts for most of a Partners’ time, it represents scarcely more than a fifth (21%) of their total workload.
  • Firms are trying to create space for the partners to be able to specialise in different aspects of business development, as well as those who dedicate themselves wholly to on-the-ground delivery.
  • The days of a one-size fits all career path are coming to an end; firms need to adapt to a workforce which is more agile and flexible.
  • Despite regulatory setbacks in some regions (new rules on independent contractors in California), there is widespread agreement in the industry that freelancing is a more attractive career path than ever before, with 79% of firms now using freelance resources and freelancing being the single biggest exit decision for those leaving firms before making partner.
  • Even those consultants who do stay at one firm are finding that their career paths are no longer straightforward. This is largely the result of firms themselves becoming increasingly complex and therefore re-evaluating their approach to measuring success.
  • New ways of monitoring and rewarding success are being put in place to give a more holistic view of a partners’ contribution to a firm.

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