Going Traditional or Going Agile

When should you hire one of the traditional Big 4 Consulting firms, and when and why should you consider a lean alternative?
Management consulting is oftentimes largely unattainable for companies that need their services the most. Firms such as McKinsey, Deloitte, Bain, and BCG almost always work with clients with $1B revenue minimums. This is a necessity so that clients can pay for not only the consultant’s time, but also for overhead, SGA expenses, and weekly travel and hotel stay for the consultant’s on-site requirements.

An Unbiased Look: When should you hire a Big 4 firm?
Board Approval
If you require Board Approval for a multi-million dollar project, selecting one of the Big 4 is perceived as ‘less risk averse.’

Global Requirements for the Same Project
Your chances of finding procurement experts in biochemical engineering in Japan and Germany at the same time for the same project are significantly higher with a traditional management consulting firm.

Matrix Structure and Support
When you require a team of 15+ people from principle to analysts on-site at multiple locations, one of the Big 4 firms will naturally have more resources.

When should you consider an agile alternative?
Principles on the Project
In traditional firms, the Partner who negotiated the consulting deal with the company, is not the one who is actually working on the project. A mid-level consultant with a junior analyst does the actual work. If the majority of your project requires an experienced executive, then it can be more cost and results effective to hire outside of the Big 4.

Same Talent, Better Value
It’s common to find Ex-McKinsey, Ex-Deloitte consultants with rich and varied experience at boutique sized firms and even working independently. Thanks to the advances in technology, most of the work can be done remotely and securely. You can find the same talent, same expertise, and same brainpower without the added overhead and markups that traditional consulting firms require.

Deep Industry Expertise
When you need a consultant with deep industry expertise. If you require an experienced professional who has at least 8 years in retail consumer packaged goods, you have a much higher probability of finding this type of talent outside of traditional firms. It is next to impossible – not to mention a career damper- for an experienced senior professional to enter McKinsey as a non traditional candidate at the consultant level.

There are obvious constraints for a mid-sized or smaller company in hiring a Big 4 Management Consulting Firm. However, there are hidden yet significant advantages for an enterprise level company to go lean and agile.

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