AMR's Dana Stiffler recently penned a thought-provoking brief that looks at the emergence of operations and implementation expertise at the core of management consulting going forward (registration and subscription required). As she notes at the start of her brief, "High-value consulting services have been redefined by market forces that dictate more emphasis on execution and less on high-level recommendations. Accounting and management consulting firms are investing accordingly, looking more like their operational and IT consulting brethren every day." While I don't want to give away AMR's specific punch lines on what this means for the Spend Management world, one area we both agree on is the need to consider boutique firms and even free agent advisors who can often bring a significant wealth of expertise without the same agenda -- and leveraged, but often inefficient model -- of larger firms.
But perhaps even more important than keeping your eyes open to considering smaller players is the need to look for true operational and implementation experience. And I'm not just talking about technology here (in fact, technology is only one angle). BTW ... if you're curious about some of the firms who you should consider talking to on the boutique side, drop me a line, as I've got a list of over a dozen names of folks who should be better known than they are. Alas marketing budgets and know-how do not always equate to the skills, expertise and value that a consulting firm can bring!