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Consultancy as a Service – the flexible consumption model

From on-demand virtual machines to Big Data processing, Everything as a Service (XaaS) is systematically dismantling traditional customer/supplier relationships, accelerating change by equipping agile organisations with scalable platforms, software and infrastructure.

In the digital domain, it’s the result of a remarkable marriage of staggering computing power, ultrafast connectivity, centralised platforms and – increasingly – AI-powered data processing.

It’s a business model that tips the balance of service in favour of the customer, and it isn’t stopping at cloud-based technology systems.

From SaaS (Software as a Service) providers such as Google Workspace and Salesforce to IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) providers such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services Elastic Compute Cloud, XaaS provides to previously unobtainable, powerful platforms without the large-scale capital investment that has historically been the preserve of large enterprise.

And where virtual machines and centralised authentication services lead, real-world physically located services are following.

How XaaS is impacting consulting

The ‘as-a-service’ customer-centric business model is rapidly making the leap to other domains, with marketing, healthcare, facilities management, and warehousing as a service switching to new models and opening up new markets.

Even talent-heavy human industry such as management consulting isn’t immune.

Long anchored in its traditional, monolithic service model, management consulting is a prime service poised to benefit from evolving as a Consulting as a Service model.

The result is the provisioning on-demand, self-service engagement with management consultants that support rapid scaling and ubiquitous availability through algorithm-powered consulting marketplace platforms such as Portevo.

If monolithic service structures are delivery dinosaurs, then ‘as-a-service’ marketplaces are the emergent mammals on the service evolutionary timeline.

Read our guide to the 5 digital transformation trends to watch in 2023.

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What is Consultancy as a Service?

The Consultancy as a Service (CaaS) model adopts many of the characteristics of XaaS and is underpinned by a flexible consumption model (FCM) that moves the relationship back in favour of the customer.

By its very nature, CaaS is flexible, agile and able to scale quickly to match customer demand.

It provides a mix-and-match approach to consulting expertise, allowing organisations to bring in consultants as project needs evolve and grow. Similar to SaaS, customers can buy as little or as much service as they need, dialling consultancy support up or down as needs change.

CaaS is best viewed as an on-demand support network, providing a mix of ongoing consultancy and the ability to swarm expertise around specific projects.

Projects can be allocated consultant support quickly, scale as needed, and be especially useful when in-house teams lack the time, skill and bandwidth and when there is a need to bring in outside help without distracting the core team.

This FCM is only made possible via digital, online marketplace platforms such as Portevo, which provide the foundations for CaaS success. They effectively link client need with on-demand expertise, with simplified access and algorithm-streamlining to reduce costs and speed the time to solution.

The platform also offers clients procurement simplicity, with one master contract covering all and any consulting engagements. The contract and ongoing relationship is with Portevo, who provide administration, billing and assurance to the projects.

Insourcing knowledge and accessing a pool of varied external expertise simply isn’t possible without algorithm-powered matchmaking marketplaces that connect consultants with project requirements quickly, simply and cost-effectively.

Read our guide to writing an effective management consulting project brief.

CaaS versus traditional consulting models

Traditional consulting models – especially that from large consulting firms – can be hampered by rigid engagement start and end points, complex and lengthy onboarding, and are generally more suited to large-scale projects with clearly defined deliverables.

While more structured and reliant on longer-term detailed analysis, it can be difficult to change course with traditional consultancy services once a project is in motion.

And lengthy engagements coupled with detailed project set-up translates into higher fees.

In short, traditional consulting can be expensive, time-consuming and overly engineered for today’s connected organisations that may have transitioned their digital operations to XaaS.

Consulting as a Service offers a different route.

It’s less structured approach better suits the increased ambiguity today’s organisations face, with shorter, overlapping and evolving projects possible in a similar vein to digital sprints.

Deliverables can evolve as data is analysed and acted on. Objectives can evolve. Expertise can flex.

Read our guide to management consulting marketplaces.

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Consulting as a Service benefits

CaaS brings a range of benefits, especially to smaller enterprises:

  • Speed – Portevo’s consulting marketplace makes engaging the right consultant fast – about five minutes to scope a project, search for verified consultants, and select those that bids are required from.
  • Agile – lightweight processes, such as a single contract that covers all future engagements, means more flexibility and simplified sourcing processes, reducing administrative overheads.
  • Derisked – consultant support can be dialled up as needs evolve rather than committed to at the outset, reducing the risk of wasted resources allocated to consultants if the project no longer requires it.
  • Short-term – CaaS allows for short-term engagements, allowing insourcing expertise to a wide range of smaller, immediate-impact projects or when your core team need to rapidly source additional capacity, insights or skillsets.
  • Remote – you no longer need to house and provide rations for a team on consultants on site, as the marketplace approach allows for more remote working, with face-to-face deployment when needed.
  • Lower cost – the lighter weight CaaS model removes a lot of the overhead, stripping back to client-consultant relationships and supported by verification and sourcing via an online marketplace. The result is lower costs and more productive output.

Discover expertise that makes a lasting difference with Portevo.

Who benefits from CaaS?

CaaS is a disruptive model that pays dividends to clients, and its one that meshes with the XaaS trend across organisations.

While all stripes of organisation can benefit from on-demand CaaS marketplaces, much in the same way that SaaS empowered innovative start-ups and plucky disruptors, CaaS is being adopted by similar types of business.

From firms looking for support for a one-off project through to recurring support without the long-term commitment, it’s an agile model that recognises it can be difficult to navigate resource needs. Organisations seeking specific domains of expertise to quickly fill competence gaps stand to benefit, as well as organisations needing quick deployment of consultants that can begin making immediate progress.

Growth businesses are particularly suitable. CaaS meets the need to be able to tune expertise based on project data, analytics and feedback, rapidly swerving to capitalise on growth opportunities.

And while short-term projects are an ideal springboard into CaaS, longer-term strategic projects also make sense as support can flex as requirements adjust over the long term.

Learn more about Portevo consultant marketplace.