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Consulting marketplaces – insurgent thinking vs traditional consulting

The way that organisations acquire critical expertise and transformational skills is undergoing a revolutionary change. Businesses are abandoning traditional, monolithic service provisioning models in favour of on-demand, algorithm-powered marketplaces that source bespoke expertise anytime and anywhere.

It’s no surprise.

Marketplaces have long been a catalyst for business innovation and trading transformation.

Even as far back as the 11th Century when trade expanded across Western Europe, markets proved an engine of social, economic and cultural change. From early networking and business growth to emerging quality control and market-driven pricing, the marketplace has been the herald of a customer-driven shift in how ideas, goods, services, culture and inventions trade.

Today’s marketplaces are as transformational as ever.

Always-on. Hyperconnected. Data-driven. A shift to today’s digitally connected marketplace business models profoundly impacts services. Think ride-sharing services such as Uber to healthcare services such as Babylon for a measure of their ubiquitous spread.

Professional business services – previously laggards in adopting client-centric marketplace models – are next in line, with marketplace models already disrupting fields as diverse as logistics, learning, financial services, recruitment and legal services.

Online consulting marketplace

The rise of the professional marketplace

Digital platforms designed to match demand with service provision have exploded across sectors.

Examples of disruptive marketplaces include:

  • Financial services – big banking is being challenged with services such as Prosper, Square, Kickstarter and Crowdcube.
  • Hospitality – hotel and direct-to-consumer restaurant chains are usurped by Airbnb, Just Eat and CouchSurfing.
  • Logistics – organisations increasingly source best-price package services from entrants such as DigiHaul.
  • Legal services – traditional law firms are being countered by disruptors such as RocketLawyer, Upcounsel and Sparqa.
  • Recruitment – talent sourcing is no longer the preserve of salary-percentage fee earners thanks to Toptal, Hired and LinkedIn.

Management consulting isn’t immune.

Entrants such as Portevo are championing a client-centric model that better links client project needs with the best independent consultant expertise, thanks to a combination of project scoping tools through to algorithm-powered client-consultant matchmaking.

Ushering in the future of management consulting, online consulting marketplaces offer a curated platform to source and engage experienced consultants matched to project needs, upending how clients access, arrange and utilise services.

A new way of sourcing expertise and knowledge

How consulting marketplaces benefit clients

Traditional consulting engagement models can significantly constrain client innovation.

Large consulting firms can seem at odds with the needs of increasingly agile clients requiring on-demand services. Lengthy onboarding, high fees, poor transparency and a lack of immediately available relevant consulting talent can put the brake on client projects. Client needs and unique project requirements often shoehorn into rigid consulting firm processes.

Consulting marketplaces offer a modern, agile alternative.

They directly connect clients with independent consultants, posing a threat to traditional consulting firms unable to provide clients with flexible, scalable and on-demand consulting expertise.

Crucially, consulting marketplaces such as Portevo remove barriers for clients and organisations – lowering costs, increasing accessibility and sidestepping obstacles such as physical location.

The result?

Flexible, agile deployment of consultant expertise matched to project need, reducing frustration and allowing projects to leave the runway quicker.

There are numerous ways a consulting marketplace benefits clients.

Independent consultant marketplace

1. An agile approach to procuring specialist skills and expertise

Agility is critical for transformation success, demanding the ability to engage expertise quickly.

However, traditional recruitment sources don’t always possess the know-how to shortlist the best fit expertise for an organisation or move quickly enough. In addition, off-payroll working (IR35) can limit the talent pool.

Online platforms simplify the steps in procuring specialist consulting support, with matched consultants often available to rapidly fill skills, experience and expertise gaps.

2. Online consultancy marketplaces verify candidates

Traditional consulting firms can be a bit of a black box. Assigned consultants can seem plucked from a ‘what’s available’ pool, and demonstrable expertise is an enigma for a client.

Project success means you must ensure you procure high-quality consultants with highly relevant experience and expertise. Consultants that have been there and done that.

Consultant marketplaces aren’t like freelancer or contractor services with endless lists of CVs with unproven expertise.

If you’re hiring direct, it pays to invest time in ensuring you’re onboarding the right consultant:

  • Do some research – take the time to read up on potential consultants, their business practices and their track record.
  • Look for recommendations – ask for recommendations from other businesses or individuals who have used their consultancy services.
  • Consider accreditations – check if potential consultants are accredited by any professional bodies or have other relevant qualifications.
  • Get in touch – arrange a meeting or call to get a feel for whether you think the consultant would be a good fit for your business.

A consultant marketplace removes much of the demand on resources required to verify consultants.

With Portevo, for example, consultants are verified and provide references, testimonials and case studies as part of their online profile.

After onboarding, Portevo continues to conduct client and peer review assessments.

3. It’s easier to find the right consultants

Unlike interviewing multiple firms and consultants, marketplaces streamline the procurement process.

Typically, an online consulting marketplace invites independent professionals and industry experts to create profiles and describe their expertise.

Clients explain their needs and required expertise once – such as using Portevo’s project building technology – and the marketplace identifies suitable experts to invite for the project. This supports clients in creating a detailed Statement of Work (SoW).

The consulting platform then assesses its pool of registered consultants to select and proposes the most suitable candidates.

Portevo’s matching technology uses algorithmic data science to match over 150 data points for its consultants to the SoW modules the client selects. The SoW ensures that Portevo presents the client with the best fit expertise structured in the optimal resourcing model.

Portevo suggests refinements to the engagement’s scope and approach and harnesses the network’s knowledge and insight to analyse and deconstruct a client’s challenge.

Read our guide to the benefits of consulting.

4. Frictionless procurement

The challenge of administrating contracts, onboarding and procurement of several individual management consultants is sidestepped with a marketplace model, providing the single-touch benefit of working with a consulting firm coupled with the flexibility of working with independent consultants.

Marketplaces such as Portevo offer a single point of contact for procurement. This includes a single contract that covers existing and future projects across all consultants sourced from the marketplace. For organisations, this is a boon. Rather than juggling multiple non-standard contracts across a range of consultants, marketplace contracts cover all consultants – and new projects are simply added as additional schedules of work to the core contract.

The result? Less admin, increased clarity, and frictionless procurement that allows you to focus on the project and its outcomes.

5. Secure a competitive price

An online consultancy marketplace is a great option if you need a consultant for a specific project rather than for an extended period.

This marketplace allows you to pick the consultant you want to work with and when you want to work with them, rather than being assigned a consultant by a more prominent firm.

Prices are competitive. Portevo, for example, benchmarks fees against traditional large consulting firms, typically offering world-class expertise at around 60% of the cost.

Find out more about Portevo’s online marketplace.