Consultancy v. Agency: Are They Really So Different?

Many multinational conglomerates use consultancies as systems integrators when running SAP implementations, integrations or upgrades. The projects these consultancies run and staff for their clients are complex and far-reaching. When a large consultancy is running multiple SAP programmes for multiple clients simultaneously, it’s no surprise that they may struggle finding niche consultants. 

In these instances, many recruitment agencies may resource for consultancies in tough staffing positions. About 30% of our business at Global Enterprise Partners is consultancies and systems integrators- they are valued partners. If recruitment companies like Global Enterprise Partners can connect end-users with the same or better talent indirectly, it begs the question: 

Why do end-users continue to use consultancies over agencies?

Are consultancies really safe?

As the title picture may suggest, at the core of many consultancy’s USPs is safety. Many of these consultancies offer support across the whole implementation, in multiple locations, for a fixed cost. They promise to oversee the whole project and absorb financial repercussions of project shortcomings. This is an attractive offer. These assurances made to companies with large, complex integrations to perform across multiple locations is a safety stamp of approval for most stakeholders.  

However, we have all heard of the massive project failures and budget over runs.

Generally, consultancies winning this kind of global business are also global brand names themselves, with a trusted reputation in international business circles. Is name recognition a consideration when it comes to SAP project bids? Or is as straightforward as being the best equipped to complete the project? 

Do consultancies offer the best talent?

Some of the strongest and most capable individuals within the SAP space are independent consultants. They come from different backgrounds, though many of the most skilled consultants gained a breadth of experience across multiple clients working with consultancies.

Consultancies offer environments that create independent consultants and world class experts. However, this means that they struggle to keep them in their ranks. Experienced consultants often leave consultancies once becoming a specialist, leaving behind more generalist consultants to tackle projects. In many cases, this is sufficient to carry the brunt of project work to success but when it comes to niche requirements and complex work, expertise may need to be sought from outside or hired in via an agency like Global Enterprise Partners.

Consultancies certainly build the foundations for some of the best SAP consultants in the business, however, they may struggle to keep them on their bench.

Do consultancies offer good value for money?

Consultancies win project tenders because of their reputation and capability, however, when looking at the composition of consultants they have ‘on the bench’, and how they source experts, one might wonder if they are offering good value for the money they charge.

It’s no surprise that consultancies charge huge sums for the projects they take on when considering the safety and compliance element of their offering. However, if there are questions around quality of consultants working on the project, then this impacts the value of their service. 

When worked out to a daily basis, the cost of consultancy contractor is 2-3 times higher than the cost of a contractor through an agency. Additionally, Independent contractors working through Global Enterprise Partners receive at least 80% of the sum paid ensuring that the lion share of the fee paid by the client is going to the highly skilled consultant doing the work.

There is no doubt that consultancies offer a large degree of safety for end-users, however the quality of work may at times be below that the expectations that come with large invoice associated with the project. If safety is your prerogative, then consultancies offer good value for money. When it comes to quality, this may vary from project to project.

It’s often forgotten that consultancies are not the only parties that can offer safety/compliance. Because our global service is core to our offering at Global Enterprise Partners, we are able to compliantly resource and staff projects in over 100 countries. This makes us a great partner for end-users and consultancies alike.

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