How to Develop your Innovation Management Consulting Business in Tough Times

Companies become increasingly restrictive in their consulting spending, especially during times of economic crisis, where the return on the investments on consulting services is questioned and carefully considered. Consulting in the area of innovation management is even more under pressure as it is usually much lower on the CEOs’ agenda than e.g. restructuring or general cost-cutting. Therefore, innovation management consultants face the challenge to develop their client base, be effective by providing the right recommendations and be efficient by developing these recommendations in as short a period of time as possible. Mastering such a challenge seems like searching for Columbus’ Egg in innovation management consulting.

Imagine that you as a consultant will be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your clients’ innovation management capabilities within just a few hours. Within this time you will be able to present to your client a comprehensive innovation management benchmarking report, comparing your client’s performance with at least 30 of their competitors and showing performance gaps to the average as well as the best performers. The benchmarking results will provide you with the basis for agreeing with your client on the specific actions that can improve your client’s competitiveness and innovation management performance. This action plan will become the starting point for you as a consultant to develop your proposal for a consulting project that is geared to creating value for your client.

With the case examples from these benchmarking activities developing your consulting business becomes easier. Up-to-date benchmarks and case studies on innovation management enrich the workshop of a consultant and enable them to present current trends and achieved improvement results, either to companies or as lecturer at an academic institution.

With the case examples from these benchmarking activities developing your consulting business becomes easier.

Furthermore imagine, by getting trained in this innovative approach to innovation management consulting, you develop and complement your knowledge in the area of innovation management consulting, gain access to ready to use material to promote your own services on conferences, in publicly funded programs, as university lecturer or as expert in innovation management consulting to conduct workshops on behalf of trade associations, chambers of commerce, innovation or development agencies and thus provide value-adding knowledge transfer to companies, intermediaries, financial actors, policy makers, or students.

This is not utopia. Consultants have the possibility to increase their effectiveness and efficiency in innovation management significantly by leveraging the IMP³rove Approach, which combines training and education in innovation management, innovation management benchmarking and innovation management consulting.

Figure 1: IMP³rove value propositions

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Concrete benefits from being an IMP³rove Consultant

There are clear benefits that IMP³rove Consultants enjoy:

  • Access to proven innovation management consulting tools and services
  • Access to an international network of a wide variety of innovation management consultants
  • Access to business opportunities
  • Certification as IMP³rove Guide, IMP³rove Expert level I, level II or IMP³rove Auditor
  • Differentiation in the consulting market
  • Support as start-up consulting company

Access to proven innovation management consulting tools and services

Consultancies – especially small to mid-sized companies – usually do not have the resources to develop their own systematic approach and tools to assess their clients’ innovation management capabilities and performance. Here IMP³rove – the innovation management benchmarking approach developed with the support of the European Commission, provides effective tools and services to gain the necessary insights into the status quo of the client’s performance before developing the recommendations that will help the company to grow. By using the IMP³rove Approach these insights can be generated within roughly 4 hours and are based on a systematic benchmarking of the company’s innovation management performance. . The benchmarking results are documented in the IMP³rove Assessment report along the dimensions of:

  • Innovation strategy
  • Innovation organisation and –culture
  • Innovation lifecycle processes covering idea management, development of the innovation, the launch and the continuous improvement of the innovative offering
  • Innovation enabling factors such as IT, Controlling, project management etc.
  • Innovation results including the growth in sales, in profit, and in number of employees as a result of the innovation management

The basis for the IMP³rove benchmarking is a growing database of currently almost 3.500 companies from different industries, which constitutes the larges database on innovation management. Consultants and their clients can define the benchmarking sample by specifying the industry sector, country, size, and age of the company against which they would like to benchmark the company. After completion of the benchmarking process, the IMP³rove Assessment report is generated automatically and the language of the report can be chosen among eight languages (Czech, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Spanish).

Access to the international IMP³rove network

There are more than 500 trained IMP³rove consultants listed on the IMP³rove platform and the pool is still growing. The feedback on IMP³rove from the consultants in the network who have already used it by assisting their clients in the IMP³rove Assessment, shows their level of satisfaction.  62 per cent of the feedback forms show that the consultant was highly satisfied with the impact of the IMP³rove services indicating 6 or 7 on a Likert scale 1-7. 67 per cent stated that the consultant could very quickly identify strengths and weaknesses of the SME’s innovation management performance (indicating 6 or 7 on a Likert scale 1-7). And 62 per cent strongly confirmed that the IMP³rove benchmarking provided sufficient insights for them (indicating 6 or 7 on a Likert scale 1-7).

Figure 2: Consultants’ level of satisfaction regarding the IMP³rove services (on Likert scale 1-7)

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Access to business opportunities

Practice shows that IMP³rove consultants gain access to more business opportunities. Because companies are interested in gaining an understanding in their competitive position, consultants use the IMP³rove benchmarking on innovation management as a “door opener” to acquire new clients or to deepen the relationship with the existing clients. Some of the IMP³rove consultants have manage to turn up to 80 per cent of their IMP³rove Assessments into new consulting projects.

Public programs either request or welcome the innovation management assessment based on systematic benchmarking. With the IMP³rove Assessment’s national and international benchmarking, the consultant can provide such innovation management assessment and differentiate his or her services in the market.

The IMP³rove approach and benchmarks as well as the content of the training material provided by IMP³rove are used by consultants also at workshops or as lecturer at academic institutions. Furthermore, IMP³rove consultants are invited to present their innovation management consulting experience and case examples in the studies and publications developed by the IMP³rove – European Innovation Management Academy. This gives additional reach to their own marketing activities.

Certification as IMP³rove Guide, IMP³rove Expert level I, level II or IMP³rove Auditor

Participating in the training and certification program, IMP³rove consultants will learn how to focus on creating value for their clients in each step of the consulting process. Providing insights and creating transparency on the company’s innovation management performance is the first experience where the IMP³rove consultant shows the difference in efficiently and effectively rendering consulting services to their client. Following the IMP³rove consulting process helps the consultant in each step to render value for the client.

The IMP³rove certificates define the services the consultant can offer under the IMP³rove brand. An IMP³rove Guide is trained in assisting the company in the IMP³rove Assessment and providing feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of their innovation management capabilities and performance. An IMP³rove Expert has practical experience and is trained to execute the innovation management consulting process with clear focus on sustainable value-creation for the client. And the IMP³rove Auditor has at their disposal an in-depth knowledge and experience in innovation management and in auditing innovation management capabilities in companies.

Differentiation in the consulting market

The innovation management consulting market is very in-transparent. In this environment it is an asset if a consultant can demonstrate his expertise based on an international certificate. The IMP³rove Assessment has been included in consulting projects to provide the client with valuable additional insights where they need to focus on. Such pro-active consulting support will position the consultant as the “trusted advisor” to whom the CXO refers to for further advice.  Moreover, this certificate is becoming a requirement in increasingly more public programs.

Support for start-up consulting companies

Examples show that entrepreneurs who started their consulting company can accelerate their business development significantly, by using the IMP³rove services. They immediately can build their consulting offerings on the proven IMP³rove Approach instantly creating a clear benefit for their clients. There are examples where the entrepreneur who started his consulting company had clearly defined the revenues that he wanted to achieve within the first 12 months being in business. With IMP³rove he reached that target already after eight months.

This success is based on the knowledge the entrepreneur has in the industries he provides his consulting services to, on his skills in business development, but also on his ability to integrate the IMP³rove services in a smart manner. He used the IMP³rove Assessment as the so called door opener to gain access to clients, he leveraged the knowledge that he gained from the IMP³rove trainings, as well as the support and coaching services offered by IMP³rove.

Use the IMP³rove services yourself

If you consider testing the IMP³rove Approach for your own consultancy, then visit the IMP³rove web-site www.improve-innovation.eu. There you will find more detailed information on all the benefits it offers.

By Eva Diedrichs

About the author

Eva Diedrichs is senior consultant at A.T. Kearney and project manager of IMP³rove and of the launch of the IMP³rove – European Innovation Management Academy (non for profit).

Join the web session

The IMP³rove services will be presented on March 13, 2013 during an IM Channel One web-session. Sign up here!

Topic: How to develop your innovation management consulting business in tough times
Date: March 13, 2013
Time: 15.00 Central European Time

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