Why Your IT Team Needs a Full-time Internal Consultant

Often executives pursue outsourcing, with or without fundamental economic benefits, because of dissatisfaction with internal service functions. But another reason is to get just what they want, rather than standard corporate-wide solutions. If outsourcing vendors tailor their responses to the unique needs of each client, why would internal staff think that “one size fits all”?


It’s easy for corporate staff to lose touch with the differing requirements of each client. Knowing clients and their strategies takes time. But staff is kept quite busy producing quality services and staying abreast of their professions. This leaves little time to spend learning clients’ businesses.

This is a structural problem: Many internal service providers don’t have anyone whose job it is to know internal clients well, to understand their businesses, and to tailor its product offerings to fit clients’ critical business needs.

We call this account-representative function the “Consultancy,” since its focus is advising clients on solving real business problems using the internal provider’s products and services.

The job of a Consultancy is like internal sales, but it’s not there to maximize the IT department’s revenues (which would increase the firm’s expenses). Rather, its job is to build great partnerships with internal clients and to make sure all the staff’s efforts are aligned with clients’ strategies and priorities.

Consultancy is a critical piece of any internal service provider, but it’s often missing from the organization chart. This means that either nobody is in the business of partnering with clients, or everybody does it in their spare time (and since it’s not their primary focus, they don't have enough time to do it well).

A missing (or part-time) Consultancy is equivalent to a vendor without a sales force. There’s no chance of understanding clients and their businesses, or of tailoring solutions to their unique strategic needs.

Expecting a department executive like the CIO to be the primary link to business strategy isn’t much better than having no Consultancy at all. It’s like expecting a company’s president to be its only salesperson!

While a lot of internal service providers are weak on Consultancy, outsourcing vendors have highly trained sales forces with plenty of time to get to know individual client groups and put together custom proposals. In a competitive-bidding situation, outsourcing is set up to win, regardless of its cost.

This, too, can be corrected. The solution is to establish a group dedicated to the Consultancy function within the structure of the internal service provider.

Establishing a Consultancy isn’t quite as simple as it might seem. Experience proves that you can't just add an account-representative group to an existing organization chart and expect it to work well.

Structure is a complex system. All the pieces have to be designed to work together. Furthermore, people within the organization have to be involved in the restructuring, to understand who does what and how they’ll team.

To do a good job of building a high-performance structure — one with a professional Consultancy — takes study, systematic design and widespread participation by staff in the restructuring process. But the payoff in performance is worth the investment. In fact, it’s a competitive necessity.

Useful Links:

For more information on establishing an effective consultancy, click here.


How To Get Your IT Staff to Give You Service Like Your Service Provider

5 Reasons Management Considers Outsourcing (And Why Those Reasons May Be Shortsighted)

How To Transform IT without Outsourcing: An Interview with N. Dean Meyer

Two Vendor Claims on Cost Savings that Deserve Major Scrutiny

Five Common Claims Vendors Make in Outsourcing Sales — and the Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Believe Them

© 2005 NDMA Inc.