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2020: A Year of Revelation



To describe 2020 as a year in which companies have had to wake up to new realities is an understatement. Such an understatement, in fact, it’s hard to encapsulate the shifts in the business landscape in a simple soundbite. Depending on sector, financial robustness, remote working capability, and so on, many businesses will stand or fall. Even the heavy hitters, the symbols of constancy, are struggling with the burden of having to adjust rapidly to the shifting sands of a pandemic world.


In the UK, the challenges are exacerbated across the commercial landscape by the blurry post-Brexit future looming large. Will there be a deal with the EU, or won’t there? Will a US deal require us to tear down labour, quality and environmental regulations, and just how one-sided will it be? Which doors will be opened, and which closed?


On a more positive note, many businesses have discovered just how quickly they can deliver significant change when the devil drives. One insurance firm I worked with, who spent many months deliberating the pros and cons of a customer portal, implemented a solution within a couple of weeks as the country went into lockdown. We quickly found out which services could be delivered from whatever office space we could carve out in our homes (I haven’t actually met my current client face to face as yet). And, after a short hiatus, we got on with our change programmes, discovering new ways to interface, discover, design and deliver solutions.


In a pandemic world, it has become painfully obvious that the only truly effective Business Continuity solution is one that enables your people to work from home. MS Teams and Zoom have seen a huge uptake, and we’re all exploring remote collaborative tools like Miro in our spare time. We’re wrapping our heads around all the possibilities this opens up for use. And yet….


The challenges for change have still not gone away. It doesn’t matter where we work from or what we’re working on – a major transformation of our operations; the replacement of a system long past its sell-by date; the merger of disparate finance systems as a by-product of recent acquisitions – we still need vision, strategy, insight and people to get us there.


We’ve become acutely aware of gaps in our knowledge and skillsets. Just who do we have in-house who has delivered a MS Dynamics based Legal Services system? Do we have enough experience in delivering Scaled Agile programmes with multiple dependencies? How do we plug the gap between the SaaS solution our supplier is offering and the in-house necessity for continual adaptation and development? Most importantly, how do we ensure our resources and skills flex with our changing demands?


The obvious answer is reaching out for consultancy or contractor support. After all, that way you only have the skills you need for the time you need them. But we all know the pitfalls. Contractor engagement can be a risky and time-consuming task, stitching the differing skills and experiences together to create the right tapestry in your team. And you can often lose a key resource at a critical moment.


The Big Four consultancies are ferociously expensive and only really for the biggest players with the deepest pockets. Smaller specialist consultancies are more competitively priced. But, too often, they cast their nets wide to broaden their pool of Associate resource, and quality can become a challenge.


However, other consultancies are taking a different path. Their Associate pool is restricted to highly experienced and skilled consultants whose reputation is well established. Whether it be Programme Leads, Agile Product Owners, Systems Thinkers or SAP Developers, the only people the client sees are the people who will deliver on their expectations. After all, when your business is built on your clients’ success, it’s not acceptable to simply throw any available resource at a project, and hope they somehow come up trumps.


In these challenging times, the price for getting change wrong can be catastrophic. But, if you know where to look, there are brilliant new consultancies, breaking the mould with a wealth of change expertise, who tie their reputation to your success.


We’re one of them.


Talk to Sandpiper Consulting at info@sandpiperconsulting.co.uk


Andrew McIlroy


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