Management Consultancies Awards Ceremony and a winner driving incalculable human benefits

Last night I was at the Management Consultancies Association annual dinner and awards ceremony at the Hilton Hotel in London. I was one of a fairly large group of judges, and adjudicated on three categories – Customer Engagement , Public Sector Performance Improvement, and the best “New Consultancy” award (which featured three very different but all impressive young firms).  I also got to vote on the overall “best project” winner.

And speaking of winners, I suspect the full list will be on the MCA site today here... Well done to everyone who was shortlisted, let alone won, and to the overall project winner, KPMG for their work on the inquiry into the Hillsborough football tragedy.

The event itself doesn’t have quite the element of rowdiness that the CIPS Supply Management Awards tends to attract, which is a shame – consultants are obviously a more reserved bunch than buyers. But it was a very good evening all the same, and we’ll feature a couple of the winning projects that had interesting procurement angles at greater length shortly.

But the whole event is a useful antidote to the sort of negative publicity the consulting industry often gets.  Take the winner of the Customer Engagement category. A mid-sized  consulting firm, iMPOWER Consulting, worked on a relatively small and low cost project, with three county councils (Bucks, Staffs and Herts). Their task was to understand better what makes people decide to become foster carers for vulnerable children.

Through some very innovative work around psychological drivers, and mapping the type of people who volunteer to take on this vital but very challenging task, they helped the councils develop a much deeper understanding of the sort of folk who do volunteer and make good carers.

That in turn enables councils to target their advertising and communications better at the “right” audience, and to work more successfully with the current population of fosterers. That in turn leads to more volunteers and so on. Early results from the programme look very promising and the councils involved are reporting big increase in the number of people coming forward.

It’s not really an obvious procurement case study, although we might argue that it is in a sense about understanding the “market” of potential foster carers. Or we could make a case that it shows two other procurement techniques at work.  Many councils have become increasingly reliant on expensive private firms who manage the fostering process when councils can’t find carers directly. So perhaps this is a good example of demand  management – reducing the need to spend money with suppliers by “insourcing” the work.

But of course the main benefit is being able to place more children, more quickly, with appropriate foster parents. That’s something that is hard to convert to a financial benefit, but it could have huge, lifelong effects on some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

 We felt therefore it was both a very strong example of clever, technical consulting work, very strong customer engagement, and also an excellent case showing where consulting work could bring very important benefits, without costing a fortune, and in an area that might at first seem unusual territory for the consulting profession.  Credit also to the staff involved from the councils, who played a huge role in the success of the programme - so all in all, an excellent story.

First Voice

  1. Jon Ainger, Director, iMPOWER Consulting:

    Peter – thank you for your kind words. We were obviosuly delighted to win an award for the project, but as you say it makes a huge difference to us that the work we did has also enabled our clients to have such a profcund impact on people’s lives.

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