Cherry-picking trusted advisors

by | 3 Dec 2018

With such scrutiny over consulting firms and conflicts of interest between audit and non-audit services, how does an organisation ensure it gets best value from a variety of providers?

​Many organisations find managing multiple consultancies complex and expensive. They cite consultancies losing focus on deliverables to “land and expand” or pre-packing teams with inexperienced, less capable consultants to “support” more valuable, experienced consultants.

Time and money is wasted on multiple “data gathering” exercises (frustrating staff) and contradictory or overlapping conclusions delivered to different sponsors resulting in internal conflict between senior management.

Merlin’s cherry-picker approach draws the best, most appropriate resources from consultancies and internal resources to ensure the best possible outcome for the organisation.

External resources may be used directly on the programme or to back-fill within the organisation to free-up internal resources with the requisite skills and content to accelerate programme delivery. So a typical team will include:

  • Key members of our client’s staff who are involved in steering and delivering the initiative
  • Overall project/programme management expertise from Merlin ensuring effective programme governance, coordination of work stream activities, milestone reviews and maintaining a focus on “value for money” from external suppliers, and the programme as a whole
  • Specialists from Merlin and our Trusted Partners or other suppliers to deliver focused outcomes
Case Study

The client had a many consultancies assisting a number of initiatives to increase market share and customer insights. Each was working on separate projects on customer segmentation, customer communications, a CRM selection project, a digital marketing platform and a new website.

The client’s staff were inundated with data gathering requests and repetitive meetings and as a result “business-as-usual” was suffering.

The consultancies were competing for follow-on work and were struggling to understand the scope of the other consultancies.

Consequently, multiple recommendations were being made beyond the scope of the individual work parcels allocated which were contradictory or included in another firm’s scope.

The Solution

Resources from all the consultancies and from the business were “pooled” and assessed individually.

Many of the consultants included in the firms’ teams were surplus to requirements (e.g. PMO support staff). Some staff were removed from their day to day roles and given project roles, backfilling them with external resources.

Data gathering was controlled in a data room and each project’s scope was shared with all the “multi-firm” teams. Deliverables were controlled by the programme lead and it was made clear to the consulting firms involved that follow-on work would be awarded on the same principles.​


The clients’ staff learned new techniques from the consultancies’ and from the individual consultants’ experiences. The amount of time wasted on data gathering was dramatically reduced and the distraction of the scramble for the follow-on work was felt to be less disruptive and contradictory. The work was delivered faster, cheaper and more cohesively with fewer external resources.