Tape measure and blocks lined up to spell

Measuring success in a consulting organisation is a challenging exercise. In my opinion the real skill of this lies in balancing short term and long term measures as well as having measures that have the appropriate balance between lag and lead indicators. Getting this balance right requires some critical thinking around what is important to drive your teams behaviours towards long term success.

In addition to the above, my experience in large consulting firms was not pleasant around the measures they used to drive the right behaviours. Short term utilisation targets, active competition against each other for work, being frantically busy but not productive and little time for training and development. It was not enjoyable, nor was it the best use of outstanding talent they had working for them. It was aggressive, focussed on dollars, short terms targets and did not create an environment for success.

After this experience, when I had management responsibility of consulting firms including BRS, I wanted to do things differently. When designing our key measures for success, my focus was on what would drive a balanced business? Not just money but other key measures or pillars of success that would also drive the right behaviours in our organisations. After lots of discussion, we came up with six key areas that would drive a balanced approach to success:

  • financial and operational sustainability. A focus on the dollars and profitability.
  • systems and processes. Focussed on less is more and easy for us to do business with ourselves.
  • culture. Culture is king in a consulting firm given the need to engage your employees.
  • marketing and brand. Your brand is important along with your marketing and investment in your key industries you service.
  • people and capability. We sell people so building their capability and developing them is critical.
  • customer satisfaction. The customer is the ultimate boss so our focus needs to be on them with everything we do.

From here, we designed key performance indicators that we measured every month. Nine in total balanced around the key result areas above. The balanced scorecard output is our one page of reporting that is critical for our business as it allows everyone to unite and align around where our focus needs to be for the coming months. Traffic lights of green, amber and red provide the indicator of where the emphasis needs to be which is a great visual way to sharpen our thinking.

What gets measured gets improved. Make sure it is simple and balanced around all key measures. Not only will it drive the right behaviours but everyone in your business will know and be empowered to drive long term success and improvement in your consulting practice.