The COVID-19 health crisis has indubitably had a profound impact on multiple sectors, with consulting being no exception. Sismai Vazquez has remained attuned to the trends that serve to define her industry, and she notes that there are a wide range of changes spurred by the pandemic that influence consultants, their clients, and the way in which they traverse the consulting sector to see results. Here, Sismai Vazquez includes a few ways that COVID-19 continues to influence consulting.
One way that COVID-19 continues to have an influence on consulting is the way in which business’s tighter budgets impacts their consulting choices. Cost cutting has proven to be critical for many businesses that are not performing extraordinarily well in the current climate, and companies are continuing to search for ways that they can stretch their dollars without sacrificing quality work. Consulting can be notoriously pricey, Sismai Vazquez notes, and this is especially the case when it comes to more established firms with reputations that precede them. Sismai Vazquez recognizes that some companies are realizing amidst the pandemic that not all professional services need to cost an arm and a leg to see successful results and, therefore, many are looking into partnerships with smaller firms and independent consultants to avoid high markups. This realization can be great news for quality service providers operating at a small to mid-range level. Of course, this comes with the caveat that independent consultants and boutique firms may face strong competition from their peers to secure clients that are currently shopping.
Another way in which COVID-19 is impacting the consulting space is that the landscape is placing a strong emphasis on specialization to ensure that businesses stay on track. Larger consulting firms can come with connections and prestige, but Sismai Vazquez acknowledges that some may offer only general experience that may or may not be fully applicable to one’s current needs. As such, firms of all sizes are looking for ways to market their specializations and benefits that they can offer companies. Meanwhile, businesses are sourcing consultants that specialize in areas that are of interest to them. Sismai Vazquez believes that there are several potential reasons for this shift in the consulting sector, with one being that companies that have survived this long may be intimately aware of their business’s strengths and weaknesses. While businesses were once hiring consultants to assist with issues that they could not quite put their finger on themselves, companies are now very cognizant of what they want a consultant to provide- and that there is not the time to coach and onboard firms not attuned to their needs.
Sismai Vazquez acknowledges that remote work is not new, especially for consultants and other professionals that regularly utilize digital tools. Still, it is certainly a novel experience that many individuals across industries are working from home at the same time. The shift to working remotely of course has many touted benefits including that completing work from home can do wonders for keeping consultants safe as they advise clients. On the other hand, the shift necessitates that consultants remain mindful of what they have at their disposal and keep up with the pace of what was expected of them inside offices. As such, Sismai Vazquez notes that consultants in the current landscape need to be ensure that they are doing all that they can to facilitate functional relationships with their clients. Utilizing communication channels to check in with clientele, keeping a pulse on their trajectory, and offering streamlined advice pertinent to the realities of the company can be more difficult online vs in-person, however it is very important to give these facets the attention they need.