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
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
News
Lois Pryce... Life Without a Postcode. Lois lives on a boat with her husband.. Registering to vote in the election has prooved to be very difficult without a fixed residential post code. (David Sandison)
newsHow living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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: Retirement Coordinator - Financial Services

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...

Recruitment Genius: Annuities / Pensions Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...

Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Officer - Altrincham - up to £24,000.

£18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing