Re-inventing consulting for the new public sector

Fiona Czerniawska, the co-author of our recent book, has written a piece here on the Source for Consulting website (which should be on your 'must read' list if you're at all interested in procurement of professional services) about the outlook for consulting in the UK public sector.  It is well worth reading and supports something I've been mulling over recently - whether we will see new models of 'service delivery' that cut across what we currently think of as separate services; outsourcing, consulting and technology service provision.

For instance, if I ask a provider to run an electronic auction for me, using their platform, but also get them to develop the sourcing or category strategy, prime the market, construct the evaluation process... is that consulting, outsourcing or a technology service?  Or all of the above?

This is of course the model that many providers have followed at least as part of their strategy for some time - Trading Partners, Intenda, BravoSolution, Trade Extensions amongst them.  And it appears from talking to a number of folk recently that the trend is currently for that type of 'outsourcing' to be on the rise again; perhaps a sign of general economic improvement and some shortages of skilled in-house procurement people?

Fiona is taking a much wider view of it than merely in the procurement arena however;  looking at how it might apply to wider public service delivery issues.  I think there is no doubt that pure 'consulting' isn't going to make a big comeback in the public sector (UK or more widely I suspect) anytime soon.  So re-positioning it, not in a cynical 'call it something different but do the same thing' manner, but in a fundamental re-evaluation of what should be offered and provided, would seem to be something professional services firms need to have high on their priority list.

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