Part-time Executives – Winds of Change Buffet the Staffing and Consulting Industries (Good!)

Contributed by Pamela Wasley, CEO.

Here’s good news for any company that uses staffing or consulting firms. Your sources are multiplying, the quality of talent is high, and the price is a better value than ever.
I used to complain that staffing and consulting firms were antiquated because they were still doing things the same way they did 100 years ago. Many still do. However, there are new players on the scene that are disrupting the traditional business model. Over the past five years the emergence of companies such as oDesk, Elance, Freelancer, Task Rabbit, Twago, and others have provided 24/7 online access to a world of talent − freelancers, contract executives, independent professionals, temporary executive talent, part-time executives, interim executives and consultants.

Instead of giving your job order to a traditional staffing firm that manually searches for the right expert, you can visit one of these online “staff marketplaces” and search a large database of contingent talent to find exactly what you need. Have a project that requires specific expertise for a temporary period of time? No problem. Post your project on one of these online services, sit back, and watch the proposals roll in.

Giving this much access and control to the client was a reversal in thinking as most staffing firms considered their talent database as proprietary and they were not anxious to make it public. Well these antiquated staffing firms need to rethink their handling of their databases in the future as more and more sites like LinkedIn are springing up allowing access to millions of profiles for free.

Also, companies like LinkedIn and BranchOut send out alerts when there is a job match close to the one a prospect is looking for. No more will the person who is looking for a job, or consultant who is looking for projects, have to wait until the staffing firm places them on a job.

The new breed of online staffing and consulting firms have empowered the prospective employee or consultant to take charge of their future and not wait on a third-party to do that for them. These online firms are also giving people a worldwide platform where they can be seen by thousands of companies around the world who need their services.

I am even seeing smaller consulting firms developing online strategies to increase the reach of their business development efforts and lower their cost of sales.

T-Rex and the Executive Consultant

But what about the larger management consulting firms? Much like the staffing industry, their model has not changed much over the last 100 years. However companies are becoming more demanding and smarter about how they obtain these types of consulting services. They are less tolerant of the large consulting fees of earlier years where companies would pay whatever the price just to use one of the big consulting firms. They are gravitating more towards the value-based pricing model rather than the traditional per diem billing of the past according to an article written by Clayton Christensen, Dina Wang and Derek van Bever, “Consulting on the Cusp of Disruption.” (

Welcome to the Consultant Marketplace

New competitors in the consulting space are undermining the larger providers with newer business models that better meet the needs of the customers. Companies in need of consulting services are gravitating towards smaller consulting firms, interim executive firms and single practitioner consultants who provide less complex solutions to companies less expensively, yet just as successful. This is due to these firms focus on the specific needs of the client and their ability to execute quickly at a lower price.

Notably within the last year, a significant game changing model emerged with online firms like Expert360 and SkillBridge specializing in connecting highly skilled consultants to clients around the world. What Elance did for freelance talent, these two companies are attempting to do for the world of high-end consulting talent.

In a recent article by John Childress, “Dinosaurs, Big Consulting Firms and Disruptive Innovation” ( ), he asked the question, “When will the big consulting firms realize that many of their “products” and solutions are too complex, costly and invasive for clients and their excessive leverage model with an army of junior consultants is sorely outdated? When will they innovate themselves?”

So as you can see, the staffing and consulting worlds are starting to catch on that they, too, need to be innovative to compete in today’s world. Watch as more innovative and technology-driven staffing and consulting firms battle the traditional companies for mindshare and market share. Don’t be surprised to read that big staffing firms and consulting firms are acquiring the online startups in an attempt to accelerate their own transformation and dodge the same fate that befell the giant dinosaurs.

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