Services offered by the professionals

Kubr (2002) claims that Professional services cut across a broad spectrum of business and management as consultants assist clients find solutions to problems. Kubr further indicates that changing client needs have led to consultants’ service offerings also changing as they seek to satisfy their clients. Moreso, research and innovation in service offerings by consultants have led to the introduction of services that anticipate client needs and fulfil them. All these have tended to make the classification or description of services provided by consultants almost elusive.

Greiner and Metzger (1983) approached the issue of service offerings by surveying consulting firms and the services they provide to clients. This was based on the functions, processes and systems (Kubr, 2002) within the organisation. The areas identified and firms offering the services have been presented in figure 2.10 below.

Figure 2.10: Services and number of firms offering From figure 2.10, “general management” consulting services dominate services provided by professional firms. This area of consulting addresses challenges faced by top management such as strategies for acquisitions and reviews of management strengths and weaknesses among others. Greiner and Metzger were surprised to see an area like Finance and Accounting services provided by relatively few firms and ascribed it to possible client organisations adeptness to those services. Though Greiner and Metzger’s view is not in dispute, an area like Accounting (including audit) demands certification by an accrediting body and that possibly may have also deterred some firms from that area; unlike general management, which demands no such certification by a professional body.

One other observation worth noting is the differences between the firms that offer the different services. Apart from ‘general management’ and ‘personnel’ services that seem to have attracted larger number of firms, the rest of the services attract almost the same number of firms with insignificant differences. This seems to support the view by Kubr (2002) that professional services are becoming more and more homogeneous; hence firms have continuously competed by size, which has been achieved mainly through mergers especially around the turn of the millennium.

On the other hand, Kubr (2002), whilst describing Greiner and Metzger’s approach to classification of professional services as traditional and follows prevailing organisational structures, criticises the approach for failing to acknowledge new business trends such as Information technology management services currently provided by several professional service firms. Kubr rather proposes what is described as a ‘system coordination and integration’ approach to classification of consulting services.

Kubr mentions that the first classification views service offerings in the light of those that deal with “specific management problems and challenges”. This classification entails problems and challenges that span several functions and processes within the organisation. Such challenges may require creativity and innovation from the consultant in order to provide appropriate solutions. The solutions may also be contextual and specific for particular clients. For example, high production costs, adaptation to new environmental legislation etc.

The second classification proposed by Kubr is services that emphasise “organisational change and performance improvement”. Such consulting services are defined by the “consulting approach or method used” (Kubr, 2002:41) rather than the organisational function or problem they are tackling. The service offerings share work methods, action programmes, initiate and develop systems for knowledge management whilst ensuring that they are implemented. Some notable examples of this approach are team building, business diagnostics and business process re-engineering among others.

Kubr (2002) continues with the system coordination and integration approach to reviewing service offerings by looking at those that deal with “business strategy and transformation”. This comprise services that address the “why” and “where” aspects of the clients business. In other words, it provides solutions to the purpose of client’s business existence and the future of the business. Such services may have major and long term impact on the organisation and are usually handled by highly experienced personnel.

The next school of professional service offerings identified by Kubr is those related to “human resource”. The services grouped under this heading include:

·         Employee benefits – social insurance, pensions, salaries;

·         Executive search and recruitment;

·         Personnel administration; and

·         Human resource and human capital management & development.

Kubr identifies one particular service provided by consultants as “outsourcing and other emerging lines of service”. Such services are those that are usually performed by internal staff as part of the organisational functions. However, these services are given to consulting firms to perform on behalf of clients and they include administration, IT, financial, opinion polls for market research, sectoral economic and market studies etc. In so doing, Kubr (2002:43) says that the “consulting industry is moving towards becoming a wider businessservice sector…but other services are also offered when this is technically feasible, legally and ethically acceptable and financially attractive to both the consultant and the client”.

Kubr describes two quite broad categories of consulting services called ‘generalists’ and ‘specialists’ services. Generalist services are described as those that cut across all industries whilst specialists concentrate on specific industries. Generalist services apply management principles across industries and hold the view that there are some management principles that are needed to run every business (Greiner and Metzger, 1983). They are however, criticised for lacking in-depth know-how to deal with client problems. Specialists on the other hand are those that target work in one sector or industry. They are supported for the in-depth knowledge they are presumed to have in the sector they serve. However, it is believed that to be able to serve the client and offer appropriate solutions to problems, there is the need to have a broad understanding of the business but specialists lack such knowledge. There is however a convergence of expertise as the specialist and generalist consultants are cooperating more and more to bring total solution to clients (Kubr, 2002).

Related Posts

© 2024 Project Management - Theme by WPEnjoy · Powered by WordPress