Governments and businesses across Asia are not realizing their desired objectives despite spending billions of dollars on management and IT consultants who overpromise and not deliver to their potential.
The just released UK National Audit Office spending review highlighted that their government does not get value for money from its consultants. This finding occurred in one of the world’s most mature consulting markets. Asia remains an immature, developing market for the consulting profession, even with the global consulting firms (McKinsey, Bain, Deloitte, Accenture, KPMG, IBM, Infosys, etc), as a continual stream of expatriate Partners are sent over to Asia for short-term postings without really understanding the Asian context; junior consultants continually being attracted by higher titles and compensation (without the requisite experience) from Partners setting up new practices in the region; and Western training courses and delivery approaches that are poorly adapted to Asia-based consultants and assignments. It is the clients of those consulting firms who are paying the price for the consulting firm’s misalignment and learning from mistakes.
The issue is that this pervasive under-delivery is never exposed and addressed as executives, particularly Western executives:
· tend to buy on the basis of brand name;
· are never trained, nor ever learn how to manage their consultants;
· rarely, if ever, undertake an independent post-project review to confirm that the promised benefits were actually realized;
· move on before project completion so are never held accountable for under-realization of business objectives.
At least many governments have independent audit functions that identify the problem (after the fact). This does not occur in the business setting.
Until this issue is highlighted by the media, and governance raised within companies and governments, the negative consequences of under-delivery and poor value for money in Asia will continue to be borne by taxpayers, shareholders, and consumers. Consultants are well paid and have the potential to help their clients to achieve greater results – it is time that executives ensure they do so.
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Asian Banking & Finance. The author was not remunerated for this article.
Do you know more about this story? Contact us anonymously through this link.
Gordon Perchthold is Capability Builder and Senior Advisor & Coach; a Partner at The RFP Company.
Jenny Sutton is a Management Consultant/ Project / Programme Manager at The RFP Company.