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Not being a management consultant

I used to think that becoming an associate at a consulting firm was something special, that your skills were deemed desirable and above and beyond the general market calibre.

So, I went about approaching firms I had worked for and firms I had been recommended, asking to be let inside the ‘inner circle’ and having to jump through various assessment hoops along the way. I succeeded with about six of them. My friend’s experience, albeit in a different industry, led me to believe I could partner where my skills were required, jointly authoring bids where the sales pipeline needed help. I offered this, free of charge, to many.

Unfortunately, all this has been pure fantasy. Most consultancies see associates as nothing more than temp staff without recruitment overheads and use them to fill standard roles no different to what your typical recruiter sources.

Consultancy day rates offered to associates are often less than the open market, whilst the client gets charged 4x that. Meanwhile, the associate gets badged as staff, given an official-looking email address, and sometimes physical business cards to hand out. Where is the value proposition to the associate in all this?

None of it chimes with why I went into business. Furthermore, such practices dilute my belief in the power of being external and independent, diminishing the benefits these bring to the client.

It’s time for me to genuinely partner with consultancies and other businesses, rather than being absorbed into a branded team. The mistake was probably mine originally, ie. not communicating my specialist skills in an attractive enough manner.

Better Software UK is a specialist requirements consultancy, and I look forward to partnering for our expertise and jointly winning work, along with continuing to win work off our own back.


Frank Ray Consulting. Software requirements for agile development teams, particularly remote, outsourced and offshore development teams working in financial services.

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