Management: Time for consultancy to begin at home: A new venture has tapped into the growing desire of companies to reduce their dependency on outside expertise

IT DOES NOT take a company director or a Whitehall mandarin to know that calling in management consultants can cost real money. And even then they may not deliver the long-term saving the client is after.

Expenditure on consultancy is now on the agenda in many boardrooms as concern mounts over soaring costs, and sceptics question whether outside experts give value for money.

Concern was fuelled earlier this year by two government reports: The Audit Commission found that the National Health Service and local councils were spending pounds 120m a year on consultants. The most common reason given was 'lack of in- house skills'.

It also found that up to 60 per cent of consultants' recommendations were not implemented.

The Cabinet Efficiency Unit found that spending on consultants in the civil service had far outstripped savings.

Against this backdrop, it is hardly surprising that a growing number of organisations are using their own managers as internal consultants. This is a trend that should grow, according to Trainers for Change, which was set up in the summer and is already holding seminars and workshops.

Philip Albon, a director at Trainers for Change who used to work for Coopers & Lybrand, said the new company had identified an appetite for its services.

'With the pressure on costs, organisations are finding that for a range of projects the use of external consultants is prohibitively expensive.'

While conceding that external expertise is often helpful, Mr Albon counsels against employing consultants with an unfocused brief.

'By working more closely with consultants, organisations can reduce their outlay and get better value. Those with managers skilled in consulting will not have to pay for young MBAs who are sometimes trained on consulting jobs at the client's expense.'

He does not put Trainers for Change forward as a complete replacement for external consultants. But judicious use of outsiders could slash some hefty bills - the services of a senior partner in an outside firm, for instance, can cost pounds 1,900 a day.

Trainers for Change sprang from the consultancy culture and is a subsidiary of the management consultants, Beaufort Management. According to Mr Albon, it is the first in its field to concentrate on disseminating expertise to managers.

TFC trainers should know what they are talking about. They all have 'Big Six' experience, having worked for Coopers & Lybrand, Touche Ross, KPMG Peat Marwick, Andersen Consulting, Ernst & Young or Price Waterhouse.

Managers from British Telecom, British Gas, National Grid, the Ministry of Defence and Dunlop have already signed up for Trainers for Change courses.

They will learn the techniques and methodologies used by the Big Six consulting firms and, in doing so, cut bills and keep the management of change in-house.

Changes in corporate culture have bolstered the internal market within companies: personnel and training departments are now having to sell their services inside the company. The rise of the internal consultant seems a logical extension of this ethos.

Charles Handy, in his book, The Empty Raincoat, predicted that organisations would divide their work increasingly into 'project teams, task forces, small business units, clusters and work groups'. He argues that managers in organisations will increasingly work in a way similar to advertising agencies and consultancies.

Mr Albon thinks that 'in the fluid matrix organisations of the future, internal consultancy skills will become a premium commodity'.

Since opening for business, TFC has been getting a lot of course bookings from training departments. Instead of running standard courses on a regular basis, they are being asked to offer tailored solutions to situations as they arise in the organisation. Line managers are now internal clients to service departments.

As the two government reports show, the public sector has provided rich pickings for consultants. Market testing has opened up further possibilities.

Mr Albon thinks Trainers for Change is the first company designed to help other companies equip their own managers with consultancy skills. 'TFC trainers, who all have Big Six experience, can help managers drive successful change initiatives in-house at a fraction of the cost of hiring outside consultants,' he says.

It seems a seductive sales pitch.

Of course, to hone their own managers' consultancy skills, companies will have to call on outside expertise. But the investment should continue to give a return as long as a key employee who has been trained stays on the payroll, rather than invoicing the company on a daily basis.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
News
Comedian Ted Robbins collapsed on stage during a performance of Phoenix Nights Live at Manchester Arena (Rex)
people
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Software Development Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Product Manager - (Product Marketing, Financial Services)

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Assistant

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...

Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links