No B-BBBE consultants should be driving around in cars to meet with clients – consultants, it is time to tech-enable your clients in a new, low-touch economy.
It has been rewarding to see pictures of cities in China and Africa with clean air and relatively empty roads thanks to the lockdowns taking place all over the globe. In the aftermath of the Covid-19 induced slow-down, we now have an opportunity to make a difference to our environment. Why spend 20% – 40% of your hourly billed time in a car when you can support your clients remotely? No one benefits from this, so please stop!
Whilst the lockdown has forced us to stay home and work remotely, it is becoming increasingly obvious that we are entering into a new era of low-touch economies. To be honest, I don’t think we will have much of an opportunity to be engaging with our clients face to face for a while to come.
Now, like never before, is the time for our industry to start embracing cloud technologies to deliver remote services. We have now proven within our own teams and with our clients that we can deliver the same, if not better service levels when working remotely. Using this approach, our client interaction is more frequent, more deliberate and more engaging than ever before.
Mpowered has introduced various options for remote consulting service delivery, relevant for everyone from independent individual consultants to large consulting teams.
Consultants employed within consulting companies can now generate their own annuity income streams with the Mpowered consulting referral model. Referring software just became a business continuity imperative, shifting away from a business threat. We are here to help transition your companies towards a tech-first consulting delivery business model.
Find out more at https://mpowered.co.za/product-consultant/
Every B-BBEE consultant now has an opportunity to generate monthly recurring income:
Wow, this has been a roller coaster ride for all of us. I hope things are stabilising at least a little as we return to this new low-touch economy. It seems that Covid-19 has had some adverse impact on revenue for all of us, whether it be reduced income, clients requesting payment holidays or limited to no new sales.
Mpowered has a mix of annual and monthly recurring income streams, and what saved us from making changes to our workforce is the recurring nature of our revenue. We have also managed to achieve our retention targets during the lockdown as our team of B-BBEE experts have continued to provide the same, if not improved services levels to our hundreds of clients. Incorporating software-enabled service delivery, where clients also enjoy the benefits of software, provides an ideal opportunity for consultants to derive monthly recurring income.
We have noticed how the lockdown has become a catalyst for consultants rethinking the adoption of cloud technology, moving from a nice-to-have for internal process efficiency to an enabling platform for business continuity and delivering an enhanced customer value proposition.
Mpowered has seen growth in our client base of B-BBEE consultants over the last couple of years. Our consulting team and our software team work hand in hand, providing a new model for the industry where there is a popular misconception that software threatens to displace consultants from their clients.
By embracing the B-BBEE tech solutions on offer, consultants can make the much-needed shift from tech-enabled to tech-delivered services, where clients also benefit from cloud software. Clients should have the opportunity to digitally transmit evidence and automate data transfer from source systems into their consultant’s B-BBEE calculation solution. They should have full visibility throughout the year into scorecards, gaps, progress towards achieving gaps and their company’s readiness for scorecard verification.
We are also seeing an increasing number of clients enquiring about a completely digital verification preparation and scorecard audit process. The South African National Accreditation System (SANAS) has adapted to remote work, and we are confident remote assessments and verification will remain even after lockdown is completely lifted. Digitising verification is much more than uploading data and evidence onto a cloud file transfer platform. It is about having data, scorecards and evidence transitioning seamlessly throughout the verification process right through to the point of issuing a scorecard certificate.
Mpowered has launched a Digital Audit Partner program to facilitate the digitisation of verification preparation and scorecards audits, and neither our clients nor their verification agency need incur additional costs. Find out more at https://mpowered.co.za/digital-audit-partner-program/
It’s finally time to reframe the B-BBEE Consulting Model
It recently dawned on me just how archaic business consulting models really are, and in the B-BBEE consulting industry, I think our own company, Mpowered, is partly to blame. So firstly, my apologies for inhibiting the digitalisation of the consulting services business model.
Mpowered has several B-BBEE consulting companies that license our software as an enabling platform for internal process efficiency. Using our solutions, these teams, ranging from one to over 30 consultants, derive great benefit from process efficiency, scorecard consistency and accuracy, access to nearly all sector charter scorecards, Preferential Procurement scorecard calculation automation and much more.
But, up to this point, none of this benefit was being passed onto their clients. One of the reasons clients never get to experience our software is that consultants have traditionally felt threated by software. They often fear it may displace them from a client, if the client becomes familiar with the software and then perceives they can self-manage B-BBEE compliance with out the consultant. This doesn’t impart much confidence the consultant has in themselves if they are threatened by software. Surely a consultant adds a lot more value than process automation?
Whilst I openly admit that we do have aspirations to use Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence to deliver consulting services, we are a long way off from this goal.
So, to all those B-BBEE consultants out there, have more faith in the value you deliver to your clients, and don’t fret, we won’t be using ML and AI to displace you any time soon.
At this point, I would like to apologise for unintentionally inhibiting the digitalisation of the consulting services model. I propose that now is the time to throw the B-BBEE consulting model on its head, to the advantage of our clients and their consultants. I propose a tech-first consulting business model whereby cloud software is an integral component of the consulting delivery model. The consulting engagement starts with the implementation and training of a software platform that will be used to deliver a digitally-enabled B-BBEE consulting service.
The focus then shifts to simplifying and smoothing the flow of data from source systems like payroll and finance, into the B-BBEE calculator used by the consultant. This ensures that all future scorecard calculations, whether they be monthly, quarterly or less regularly calculated, are easily managed. Data transfer is most effectively automated with web-based software solutions. As scorecards are regularly calculated, checked and updated, it is essential that this most tedious and frustrating process within the broader B-BBEE compliance process is simplified from the outset of any ongoing engagement between client and consultant.
Establishing a target scorecard that is practical and achievable within a company’s constraints, whether they be financial, capacity or capability related, is an iterative process requiring an ongoing dialogue to ensure a company can achieve their best-case B-BBEE compliance level with maximum impact for stakeholders, at least cost and disruption to the business.
Continual engagement should be conducted throughout the year and can be done remotely, and updated as decisions are made, giving internal stakeholders immediate visibility of the changes and impact. Giving internal stakeholders immediate visibility as and when required, at any stage through the annual B-BBEE compliance process, must add immense value, surely?
Companies should have to put minimal effort, time and cost into preparing for verification. Data, scorecard and evidence should all be managed within a single software platform, not distributed across employee laptops, servers or cloud platforms. With everything in one place, at the time of scorecard verification, there should be a seamless handover to the verification agency (VA) with limited effort. Ideally, company stakeholders should also have visibility of the VA’s progress throughout the verification process to pro-actively avoid the common, unwanted surprises during verification.
Security of confidential data is a completely separate issue, but in this day and age, we simply cannot take risks on such confidential information distributed across various platforms, no matter how digital they are.
Mpowered has developed cloud-based B-BBEE compliance software that delivers on our promise of “one solution for all” where our clients, their consultants and VAs all operate off a single platform; where data, scorecards and evidence flow seamlessly throughout our client’s B-BBEE compliance journey.
Find out more at www.mpowered.co.za
Author – Bruce Rowe, 15 June 2020