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Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve covered some of the main questions we get asked by our clients and consultants


We’re a high growth business that is constantly evolving, working with new clients and experts to deliver the products and services you need to help your business succeed. We’ve covered some of the main questions we get asked by our clients here

What are the problems Portevo solves?

What is the overarching problem that is existential for businesses?

70% of businesses are concerned about being disrupted and 60% of leaders are concern about slow execution. This is a terminal risk – these failures are putting companies out of business. And in a post COVID world the stakes have gone up again. However 70% of change & transformations don’t achieve their aims and 50% fail costing trillions in wasted capital and lost opportunity.

What are the typical root causes of failures to achieve critical change?

  • Lack of clarity and structure – fuzzily defined work packages. Ambiguity and mismatched expectations means no-one is aligned on what needs to happen when.
  • Resources are working on projects not delivering them – inability to track action to results.
  • Lack of a common language and framework.
  • Inability to adapt to changing priorities.
  • Incentives and interests are often not aligned for those tasked with delivering transformation.

What are the shortcomings of internal resourcing that lead to this situation?

  • Lacking in skills required.
  • Cannot be easily flexed up/down.
  • Low productivity – research shows that circa 40% of internal FTE hours are productively spent.
  • Training and upskilling to meet the need is too slow and does not deliver required end result – round pegs often end up in square holes.

Why does the hiring process 'war for talent' often not fix this?

  • Recruitment sources don’t have the domain knowhow to shortlist the right expertise for the job. This leads to piles of lookalike candidates which in turn leads to resourcing options being seen as “risky and costly” and leading to hires that “lack the skills and cultural fit” for the jobs-to-be-done.
  • IR35 – the government has made the hiring the best contractors a nebulous minefield with crappy legislation – leads typically to hiring contractors ‘inside’ IR35 which the best freelance talent will not stomach which in turns limits the talent pool.

How has the government made this situation a whole lot more difficult with IR35 / Off-Payroll?

The government has made the hiring of the best contractors a nebulous minefield with deeply flawed legislation – this leads typically to hiring contractors inside IR35 / Off-Payroll which the best freelancers will not stomach which in turns limits the talent pool.

How has the COVID 19 pandemic impacted this situation?

For most businesses the COVID crisis made the business environment more challenging than ever. Navigating out of the other side, UK businesses have greater need for flexibly sourced expertise to fill some of the gaps created by enforced reductions in permanent headcount. Simultaneously, the ranks of freelancers looking for work has mushroomed as hundreds of thousands transition into seeking more flexible working arrangements.

We provide a solution.

Big Consulting markets itself as the silver bullet for all of this - why isn't it?

  • Land and expand – how long is a piece of string engagements. Time & materials pricing that is uncontrollable – Engagements that run on and spend budget unnecessarily through wasted non-productive time.
  • High costs (blended + day rates).
  • There is a lack of investment/accountability in the outcomes.
  • Embed themselves inextricably in business without delivering the ROI required.
  • Unfocused definitions of work and value delivery leading to sub-par outcomes – projects that run on burning time, money and opportunity and which don’t provide required incremental value or learning.
  • Consultants without coal-face experience – career consultants.
  • Juniors parachuted in for ‘on the job’ training programmes that client pays for at some material cost.
  • Cultural mismatch / clash – oil and water.
  • Cookie-cutter approach – theory presented as best practice but not enough steps to bring it to life.

How does Portevo perfectly tailor the right expertise to the exact need?

Is Portevo a consultancy, a freelance marketplace or a recruitment agency?

We are a new breed of professional services consultant network that combines the optimal blend of the best bits of all three of these models. We provide the scalable capabilities and frameworks of big consulting, the niche subject matter expertise of boutique consultancies and freelancers, the unconstrained ability to source the finest available talent of recruitment and the technical smarts of a marketplace that enables you to effortlessly find the best fit expertise.

We wrap our obsession with customer success and service around the whole offering in a business model that encourages and facilitates our consultants to collaborate whilst still retaining competitive forces within our network that drive the most compelling client value for money.

The result is a service that delivers exceptional results whilst at the same time disrupting the status quo with a lean model which enables us to pass on cost savings to our clients.

How are the Statement of Work (SOW) modules key to the process?

We have codified often nebulous but critical disciplines such as business strategy, digital and business transformation and customer experience into simple bite-sized expert-authored SOW modular chunks. These proprietary modules have been developed through best practice and decades of industry experience to define scope, inputs, outputs, value delivered. They remove all ambiguity, maximise productivity and drive highly focused theory-to-practical execution outputs based on jobs-to-be-done.

The SOW modules provide the selectable Lego pieces to efficiently define any size of high complexity high value project. This enables via our Work Engine the sourcing and matching of best matched individual or team talent with the optimal hard skills and cultural fit to do the job, quickly, easily and with transparent cost-efficient pricing.

How does Portevo ensure the SOW modules embody industry leading best practices?

We employ ‘Wiki’-type frameworks of best practice in the SOW modules that our entire network of consultants are encouraged to contribute to on an ongoing basis. This means our service can continuously and self-iteratively grow, evolve and remain cutting edge to the latest industry developments.

It is in this way, allied with the forming of high performing teams to solve clients’ problems, that we balance the exponential power of the collaborative whole with the competitive pressures of the marketplace matching.

How is the excellence of Portevo's consultants profiled and ensured?

Growth in the size of our consultant network is always carried out within the constraints of ensuring absolute  quality.

Portevo consultants are exhaustively 360 degree profiled across their industry and domain experience, soft skill strengths and cultural organisational fit including psychometric measures too.

All consultants are interviewed and references, testimonials and case studies are verified.

Once onboard, continuous client and peer review assessment takes place and failure to meet the highest standards we collectively set for each other as a network would lead to removal from the platform. However our rigorous onboarding and ongoing vetting process and working with our network to help them continuously evolve means we would see this as a very rare edge case that we work exceptionally hard to make a non-issue.

How does the matching process work?

Our matching tech uses algorithmic data science to match over 150 data points on our consultants to the SOW modules selected by the client for the engagement. This ensures the client is presented with the best fit expertise structured in the optimal resourcing model (see section on resourcing models below).

The bidding process, which includes suggested refinements to the scope and approach of the engagement, harnesses the knowledge, experience, ingenuity and insight of our network to analyse and deconstruct a client’s challenge from the moment it is captured on the platform.

So is the whole process automated then?

Far from it. The service is designed to harness the best of human and digital.

Our technology provides the smartest and most efficient way to capture the client’s requirements, start to suggest best fit matches and streamline the selection process. This is tech built by experts for experts.

But Portevo’s human creativity is very much part of the package too. Once the initial requirements are gathered in a few clicks, we strongly advise taking advantage of our no-commitment concierge customer success call with an expert consultant to collaboratively explore your need and the possible resource matching and selection options available.

And this personal service is also available on demand whenever you might need it in the process.

What is the typical profile of a Portevo consultant?

There is no one-size-fits all and our mission is to provide unconstrained and democratised access to the top talent regardless of age, and geographical location, rather than cookie-cutter mediocrity. There are over 1 million freelancers operating at the senior levels equivalent to director, head of department or technical/management consulting expert and we tap into the best of this huge talent pool.

However there are some real common themes in the people we attract:

  1. Industry experts that have walked the walk in the roles and areas they are now consulting into. A genuine trusted adviser at senior levels able to start delivering value from the get-go.
  2. Ability to apply the very best off the theoretical but with a laser focus on the delivery of practical value that can be the only measure of success.
  3. An obsessive dedication to eliminating ambiguity upfront, and on an ongoing basis, in opposition to the nebulousness others exploit for the commercial gain.
  4. See the ultimate aim of consulting as providing the client with the capabilities required to thrive independently rather than a ‘land and expand’ cottage industry approach.
  5. Able to adapt and fit to the client’s cultural needs.
  6. Are comfortable being commercially accountable for the results of their work as an incentive aligning mechanism.

What Are The Different Flexible Resource Models Available?

What Are The Different Flexible Resource Models Available?

Providing a highly flexible and agile service is one of our core mantras – whether it’s a brief call with a deep subject matter expert or a delivery team for 12 months.

We offer a range of resourcing models matched via The Work Engine™ to the client need that provide huge flexibility and scalability. And these models can be blended to provide even greater total tailoring to your requirements:

  1. Consultant in role (part time or full-time)
  2. Bespoke dedicated team (part time or full-time / specialised or multi-disciplinary)
  3. Human Cloud (on demand expertise / specialised or multi-disciplinary)
  4. CxO/Senior Leader Advisory

This flexibility of resourcing model in turn provides the flexible pricing approach you prefer – fixed price, time and materials, retainer or pay as you go.

How does the on-demand Human Cloud work?

Through our Work Engine™ platform, we have developed a new type of human cloud that provides access to our modular consulting services and expertise via an innovative commercial model. This enables lower barrier to access through a flexible commitment based model that rewards our clients with lower rates as their use of our services grow.

Rather than having to hire multiple people/teams, clients can access a pool of talent that matches their resourcing need based on the demands at the time. This allows a vetted and engaged network of experts across a large number of domains and sectors to provide the scale and structure of big consulting without the associated costs.

What is the Advisory service/model?

At a fraction of the cost of the Big Consulting CxO advisory services and executive programmes, we can provide a trusted adviser and sounding board. This service can plug seamlessly into the Portevo consultant network for joined up execution and delivery resources.

How are you positioned as an IR35 / Off-Payroll solution?

More to come on this. If you’d like to discuss then please contact us!

How is the Portevo model able to guarantee market leading value for money?

How are quality and cost guaranteed?

We guarantee that your project will be delivered within scope and to your satisfaction.

Our SOW framework model provides complete transparency which in turn enables Portevo to take total responsibility for the work our consultants deliver and so underwrite this no-client-risk pledge. There are not many alternatives out there that provide this money-where-your-mouth-is guarantee.

How is pricing kept so competitive?

Benchmarked against traditional consulting firms we provide world class expertise for approximately half the cost which puts this rocket fuel for growth in the hands of a whole new tier of smaller organisations.

We keep unnecessary overheads to a minimum through a lean and efficient digital and distributed model that still puts the highest level of customer success and service front and centre.

We promote remote working using industry best practices as the default arrangement. In a post COVID world this model has become even more established and necessary. However we understand that face-to-face can still be required and are able to provide that as an option too.

Our customer success, support and admin processes are optimised with quality people, processes and tech, which also reduces cost.

Research shows that people resources regularly spend 50% of working hours productively – our model removes wasted time – we strive to get to as close as 100% productivity as is humanly possible. You only pay for effort, not elapsed time, eliminating lost productivity.

Access top consulting expertise without the overheads