MCA Awards and the Consulting Excellence Scheme

Friday was one of the most interesting days of the year for me, as a judge for a couple of categories in the Management Consultancies Association Annual Awards. This is I think my fourth year doing this, all because of the book I co-authored (Buying Professional Services – still available here) and I suppose some years of running procurement at organisations that spent a whole load of money on consultants.

The Awards are well established, and you can see the short-listed finalists here. I was one of three judges (see picture) this year looking at a couple of the individual categories, so got to meet 8 very impressive, generally quite young consultants – a very diverse bunch too, and representing both the giant firms and some smaller outfits.

I’ve worked as a judge on a number of different categories over the years, both team awards and individual. The consulting industry takes a lot of stick from some people, deservedly sometimes, but there are always entries in this process that are rather inspiring, as you see consulting firms and consultants bringing real creativity, brain power and often incredible hard work and dedication to solving problems. And those problems have varied over the years from mine-clearance in Afghanistan to motivating staff in a firm that has lost its way; from saving lives by improving clinical processes and systems to innovative IT systems that create disruptive change in particular sectors.

There are usually quite a few projects shortlisted that have a strong procurement and supply chain theme, and indeed procurement consultants Efficio have got themselves onto two shortlists this year, so well done to them.

One point that did strike me forcibly: the importance for procurement (and clients of consulting firms) of understanding if you are looking for intellectual property that resides within the firm - in which case the individual consultant is still important, but perhaps not critical - or whether you are looking for an individual with certain skills or experience - in which case the specific person is key. You must understand that before you start the process of choosing your consulting firm and individual.

Back to the MCA -- the organisation has also recently introduced its Consulting Excellence scheme. This commits firms who sign up to it to “promoting high standards of ethical behaviour, value for clients and professional development”.

There are nine principles and you can read more about the initiative here; it all makes absolute sense and reflects good practice as far as I understand it. In fact, you wonder why any firm wouldn’t sign up to it. We’re not suggesting you don’t consider a consulting firm unless they have the accreditation … but if your chosen firm hasn’t signed up, you might just want to ask them why.

Back to the awards: the Awards dinner is on April 27th at the Park Plaza in Westminster. It is not quite as raucous as the CIPS SM Awards I would say, but is a very enjoyable evening and has had very good hosts every year I’ve attended – don’t know who it is this year yet.  But maybe see you there …


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