The Client-Consulting Relationship: A Case Study Of Critical Success Factors At MQ Telecommuniques

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Steven H. Appelbaum
Anthony J. Steed

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Abstract

The primary intent of this study then, is to examine recent projects involving external management consultants at MQ TeleCommuniques, from the employees’ point of view, to measure the extent to which the aforementioned “critical success factors” were perceived as being evident. A secondary purpose was to examine which, if any, of these factors differ between more or less successful consulting projects with a view to building a model to predict employees’ perceptions of the level of the projects’ success. A third objective was to gather employee opinions on other factors that might contribute to the success of consulting projects. A fourth, and final, objective was to gather general employee opinions on the use of management consultancy at MQ TeleCommuniques. A total of 102 employees responded to a questionnaire consisting of 59 questions. A model including six independent variables was able to predict overall rating of project success, with an adjusted R2 =0.68, F=27.81 (p<.0001).  The significant variables, in order of importance, were:

 

1.                   the solution took into account our internal state of readiness;

2.                   the project included prototyping new solutions;

3.                   the project deliverables were clear;

4.                   the consultant partnered with the project team throughout;

5.                   the consultant was professional; and

6.                   the consultant understood our sense of urgency.

 

There were substantial differences seen on most measures between projects judged “successful” and projects judged “not successful”. Nevertheless, it is encouraging that many of the success factors suggested in the literature, and proposed under “an ideal client-consultant engagement”, were judged as present in management consulting projects at MQ TeleCommuniques, to one degree or another.  General opinions of management consultants were mixed and somewhat negative. Employees at MQ TeleCommuniques certainly do not agree with the traditional benefits of management consultants promoted by the industry.  Finally, the results of this study certainly support the anecdotal and theoretical models in particular those emphasizing the importance of process issues, the client-consulting relationship and their impact on project outcome.

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