Cranfield conference – Consultants and clients come together.

If you are looking to discuss, share, and learn about the latest thinking, practice and research in management consultancy, a one-day Cranfield conference to be held on 13 November will offer you such a forum.

The conference is clear in its objectives and offers information for both consultants and clients. It aims to provide current and potential clients with a better understanding of how to choose and work with management consultants. It will offer an opportunity for delegates to improve the capabilities, standards and effectiveness of management consultants and, therefore, enhance their commercial success and business development.

Cranfield, in association with the Institute of Management Consultancy, is setting its sights high in its aim to better position the profession in order to meet the challenges of the new millennium. The conference is designed to appeal to key stakeholders in the profession, clients, consultants, government and training providers.

Although the overall theme of the conference is Best Practice in Management Consultancy, the day will be divided into four separate “tracks”. Key speakers during the conference will include Jonathan Flowers, director of NatWest Consultancy; Mike Whitlam, director-general of the British Red Cross; Christopher Cox, European sales development director of Vistakon; Don Skilling, lecturer in organisational development at Cranfield and senior personnel from the IMC. Not only will delegates have the chance to listen to round-table debates, but they will be able to quiz the keynote speakers at plenary session later on in the afternoon.

Track one: Issues in the client-consultant relationship

Research and experience has shown that successful projects are based upon the effectiveness of this rapport. This stream will explore and identify those factors that contribute to a positive relationship. It will also demonstrate how to make the best use of consultants through a major corporation’s experiences with a variety of consultants. It will present and discuss the findings from a major survey of users and providers of management consultancy – perceptions of the consulting process, performance issues, outcomes, as well as “hot” management issues and challenges.

Track two: Consultancy in private, public and non-profit organisations

Increasingly, government and the non-profit sector are using consultants to help them manage change, improve their services and raise their profile.

Clients and consultants from all three sectors can benefit from comparing experiences and identifying best practice. Management within these organisations now has to tackle issues such as knowledge management, new working patterns and globalisation. At the same time, the boundaries between public, private and non-profit organisations is becoming blurred as a result of deregulation, joint initiatives, competitive bidding and outsourcing.

Track three: Consultant education, development and standards

There seems to be a convergence of views in the consultancy profession on the subject of education and development. Academics, accrediting organisations, large practices and the IMC itself are all moving towards a competence-based approach. The major practices are having to work harder to recruit and retrain the best consultants as they become more mobile, working for several practices, in different countries, throughout their career. Clients are demanding assurances of high standards of professionalism and ethical behaviour from all consultants.

In response to this, the IMC has updated its own CMC qualification and is leading a Department of Trade & Industry-funded project to establish a nationally-recognised credit framework for competency in consultancy.

This track will bring delegates up to speed with the leading-edge work being carried out in these areas.

Track four: Global perspectives

Globalisation of client markets is having a major impact on the consultancy profession, resulting in corporate restructuring, mergers, and a demand for more mobile “international” consultants.

A presentation on developments in the Italian consultancy profession will provide useful insights into another European market. This will be contrasted with an examination of the work that British consultants are doing in developing economies, where the local consultancy profession is either non-existent or still in its infancy.

Global development of the profession is being led by the International Council of Management Consulting Institutes (ICMCI) and a senior representative will be talking about the work that is being undertaken to develop and raise awareness of the international consultancy qualification, the Certified Management Consultant (CMC).

For more details about the conference contact Hannah Kitchen on 01234 754506.

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