Consultancy finds secret to success – slashing management ranks

Emmanuel Goutallier, Partner in charge of the Asia Pacific Regional Community (APAC) answered a few questions Edmund Tadros, leads the Australian Financial Review coverage of the professional services sector had about onepoint.

The boss of the local arm of French technology consulting firm onepoint says it has reinvented the professional services business model and stopped staff turnover and spiralling costs by slashing the number of management levels to just three.

Jettisoning the traditional “up or out” promotion system onepoint, a French-headquartered technology strategy and delivery company, has just three types of consultants – associate, leaders and partners – who work across a range of specialist “communities” to deliver services. Australian boss Emmanuel Goutallier said the arrange­ment had reduced staff turnover and operating costs.

“Over the past 30 years, the consult­ing industry perpetuated a hierarchical model” with “career progression based on an ‘up or out’ approach”, said Mr Goutallier, a partner executive.

‘The Y/Z generations are disrupting the status quo, demanding to continu­ously expand their expertise in a less controlling and more networked organisation.”

The up or out approach, common at many consulting firms, requires con­sultants to reach a certain rank within a certain period of time; those unable to do so leave the organisation.

The Melboume-based consultant said the firm’s turnover was about 9 per cent, compared with the 13.4 per cent rate of the wider business and pro­fessional services sector.

The firm also has a high employee satisfaction rating – Mr Goutallier pointed to the average 4.6 out of five rating for onepoint on the company review site Glassdoor.

The way forward as a consultancy is as an expertise based operation allowing our consultants to express their passion and creating the space to bring their whole selves to work.

It has about 2300 employees across 15 offices around the world, and global revenue of about €300 million ($489 million). Mr Goutallier’s comments come as global tech consulting giant Accenture grapples with the reality of needing to rebalance its Australian workforce. It has recently decided to fire up to 70 managing director (or partner) level local employees.

Onepoint established its first Austra­lian office in Victoria towards the end of last year and will have 40 consult­ants across Melbourne and Sydney by the end of this year.

With an average age of 32, they are split evenly between management con­sultants, who provide advice, and tech­nology consultants, who deliver technology services.

The unique operating model of fewer ranks means the firm can provide services at a lower cost to cli­ents, Mr Goutallier says.

“With very few management levels and a greater level of autonomy, the new consulting model is 20 per cent to 30 per cent more cost-effective than the traditional consulting model,” he said.

The firm is on track to record local revenues of $2.5 million in its tirst year of operations.

Mr Goutallier declined to name spe­cific clients but he said the firm’s work in Australia had included redesigning a process flow at a manufacturing client, designing a data strategy for a logistics company and developing a self-service app for an entertainment client.