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Contents copyright © 2010 by Bob Brown. All rights reserved. Quotation with attribution permitted.
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« How do you know a consultant is competent? | Main | All Not Well at Accenture? »



It is a good thing that you started this post with the disclaimer "A primary, but not absolute, indicator..."

Anyone who has ever worked for a consulting company knows that consultants whose performance is substandard are soon dismissed, not benched or beached. That is, unless they have protectors in management.

More often than your post seems to recognize, competent consultants find themselves benched because (a) the sales forces on whom they depend for billable engagements can't sell, (b) the engagement managers responsible for staffing and delivery don't know how to staff or deliver, or (c) both.


Competent consultants with high-value skills often spend a lot time on the bench. When I ran a consulting practice, I made sure that my bench resources spent their time on training, professional development and sales support.

No matter how competent the consultant, if he or she is not willing to spend bench time adding value, that is important, negative information that a new employer should try to find out.

But many consulting FIRMS ignore their bench resources, refusing to involve them in sales support or other activities that build the organization.

When that happens, it indicates that it's the firm, not the ready, willing, able - and ignored - bench consultant, that is incompetent.

Bob Brown

Two great comments, RLB. It's easy to see how some clients could be confused when dealing with consultants, isn't it?

How bench/beach time is handled varies greately by consulting firm. At IBM -- at least when I was there -- company sponsored training was billable internally, so it showed up in utilization reports and counted toward some bonuses. There was no negative financial impact for individual consultants from taking time for training.

I also worked on a number of consulting projects for IBM itself; many which permitted me to work from home. Those were also billable and counted towards utilization.

In any event, we are in total agreement that any firm that would ignore its bench/beach resources has a serious problem; if not being, as you said, totally incompetent.

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