The AXELOS Consulting Partner Programme - and what it means to small consultancies

The AXELOS Consulting Partner Programme - and what it means to small consultancies

This year AXELOS launched the AXELOS Consulting Partner Programme. The programme allows consulting organizations to enter into an official partnership with AXELOS for the first time. The programme is part of our continuing commitment to ensure all organizations that use our products and guidance are recognized, supported and operate within mutually beneficial quality criteria.

Chris BarrettPersonally, I think this is an exciting strategic step for AXELOS and fits well with our intent to “make organizations more effective”. Consultancies are at the leading edge of best practice; they live and breathe client pain and know how best practice can be used to tackle business issues. It is therefore good for AXELOS and consulting organizations to work with each other, to learn from each other and to share information. This is equally true of small consultancies as it is of large consultancies.

Community Feedback

Collaboration is one of five core AXELOS values. So when AXELOS received feedback that the AXELOS Consulting Partner programme wasn’t right for smaller consulting organizations we went into listening mode. This exercise provides an insight into how we like to work - so much so that’s it’s worth sharing, together with the results.

One of the key discussions focused on smaller ITSM consultancies. Lauren Hicks (AXELOS Transformation Manager) and Kaimar Karu (AXELOS Head of ITSM) from AXELOS set up an informal round table with Kevin Holland, Karen Ferris, Suresh GP, Daniel Breston, Lou Hunnebeck, Ian Connelly and Tobias Nyberg at SITS15 in London. The session was open and the outputs very useful. We validated these against similar discussions in the PPM community and then distilled the main concerns and opportunities.

Main concerns and opportunities

AXELOS is committed to improving the consulting partner programme for all parties. Using our collaborative efforts, here’s a rundown of where I think we can make that happen:

Can the current AXELOS Consulting Partner programme work better for small consultancies?

We knew one size would not fit all, but some opinions suggest it is too heavily focussed on big firms:

  • We have noted the pricing, benefits and operational concerns regarding the current programme have been documented. As a next step, AXELOS will build on the programme to make it more suitable, more applicable and more beneficial to small consulting organizations without losing the appeal for larger operations. This may include the creation of “tiers” within the AXELOS Consulting Partner programme.
  • To make sure the AXELOS response addresses your requirements, we would love to hear your feedback on how you think modifications to the programme could make it work better for you. Contact details at the bottom of this blog.

Can the programme be made less bureaucratic?

  • An operational concern was raised over the requirement to provide the details of 10 clients, as most small consulting organizations might not have 10 active clients at one time.
    • The intention here is not to create an administrative burden - this point was clarified. A consulting partner can provide us with the details of up to 10 clients, with the minimum being at least one client. We’ll tackle all operational concerns as they arise.
  • Why does AXELOS require consulting partners to submit biannual reports? This is seen as too much paperwork for the benefits that it brings:
    • We agree with this view and have updated the programme to reduce the reporting from biannual to annual.

Can fears over client information handling be allayed?

Sharing of client information is both sensitive and business critical. This information is the consultant’s ‘crown jewels’ and handing that over to any third party (including AXELOS) can be seen as a risk:

  • AXELOS will not compete with consultancies; it’s not what we do. We won’t use any client information provided to contact the client either. The data is useful in knowing where best practice is applied and to refer clients to consultancy partners. It’s also important that we don’t make life complicated for consulting partners as AXELOS talks to clients about enterprise wide best practice adoption.
  • AXELOS has requested the consulting partner to submit case studies as one of the membership conditions. This is seen as a big risk for confidentiality, and many clients will not allow their engagement information to be published:
    • AXELOS will not publish or in any way share the case studies without gaining the consent of both the consulting partner and their client. The contact information we ask for is to verify the case study as part of our quality assurance model. Case studies can be anonymized for external publication in many cases, e.g. “Large retail bank…”

Why does AXELOS require that 10% of AXELOS Consulting Partner’s qualified consultants must join the AXELOS Product Consultant at a currently unknown cost?

  • The Product Consultant programme is being developed and expected to launch later in 2015. The aim is to prove on-going training, relevancy and experience annually. We are asking for 10% of consultants to join the Product Consultant Programme.
  • We understand committing to this without knowing the full details can be seen as a risk. We will release the details of this programme as soon as possible and work with partners to ensure the requirement to implement this particular quality bar is met with the minimum of administrative burden.

For the avoidance of doubt - we are taking all feedback on board and would love to hear your views on how this programme would work for smaller consulting organizations.

Benefits

AXELOS is committed to supporting consultancy organizations that use our products and guidance. With that in mind, one frequently asked question is: What exactly does an AXELOS Consulting Partner get for their annual fee?

The benefits of the AXELOS Consulting Partner programme are documented, but as you read through each point below I’d like you to think and to feedback. How could these benefits be tiered to match small consultancy needs? Which benefits are possible but not currently offered? Which may look good, but in reality don’t give a consultancy real value? Get in touch, help us make this a programme that works for you.

Intellectual Property - earlier I mentioned that a consultant’s client list is seen as their crown jewels. The AXELOS Global Best Practice Portfolio is ours. The AXELOS Consulting Partner licence allows a consultant to use and replicate AXELOS material as requested by the consultant and include the same in client deliverables. The licence is also future-proofed to the extent that the consultant requests new material in the best practice portfolio. Basically this is a clean solution to consulting IP licence needs and is in line with IP licensing for training organizations.

What does this mean to those who don’t join the AXELOS Consulting Partner programme? Basically it won’t mean you can’t use the ITIL® terms, or the knowledge you’ve acquired over the years of working with ITIL. Existing IP licensing schemes will continue to apply which requires an interpretation of the manner/form in which AXELOS intellectual property is used before a licence is required.

Maturity Models - only consulting partners will be given access to assessment grade maturity models based on the best practice portfolio. Currently this applies to the diagnostic and certified versions of P3M3® assessments. Maturity models are a powerful tool in the consultant’s kit bag. AXELOS is currently seeking to expand maturity modelling capabilities across the portfolio to provide consultants with better tools to tackle client issues using the best practice portfolio.

AXELOS Consulting Partner status - AXELOS Consulting Partner status is a differentiator in the market place. It demonstrates that a consultancy has met AXELOS quality criteria for use of the best practice portfolio. It demonstrates an ongoing commitment and relevance in each best practice area. It also demonstrates a commitment to innovation and improvement - the AXELOS Consulting Partner members will form part of the go-to group for testing future iterations and innovations for best practice products.

Online Certified Partner Search - our partner search tool has generated over 39,000 click-throughs to partner websites in the first few months and traffic is increasing. It allows potential clients to come to AXELOS.com and find a consulting partner by location and/or product. We will soon be adding the functionality to include consulting partners on our search will provide a clear lead generator for consultancies and a procurement aid to clients.

Benchmarking reports - the data AXELOS collects through the programme will be anonymized and used to produce industry benchmarking reports exclusively available to AXELOS Consulting Partners. These reports provide an additional insight into the best practice community, something that had previously been inaccessible to consulting organizations.

Global Partner Programme (GPP) - as a member of AXELOS’ GPP there are multiple benefits. We offer:

  • Co-funded marketing - AXELOS has sponsored, provided and attracted speakers for partner events in the past, and will continue to do this this. We will continue to work with our partners to develop the best practice community - and we’re open to all suggestions here
  • Templates for co-branded promotional materials - as part of the Partner Portal’s Market Intelligence section there are many templates that can be used - from agency PR briefs through to marketing plan templates. We will work to make these relevant to consultancies
  • Access to sales and product master class webinars - these webinars are tailored towards our partners to give them a better insight into our products and how best to use our products with their clients. These webinars are only available to partners.
  • Direct access to AXELOS Global Partner Programme support - partners can utilize the GPP support for queries relating to AXELOS products through the [email protected] email address.

Moving Forward…

With all of our discussions we are taking on board the needs of the community, in particular those of smaller consulting organizations. We understand that the AXELOS Consulting Partner Programme as it currently stands doesn’t necessarily address the needs of all consulting organizations. That’s why we are listening to the market and using the feedback to produce a programme that will have clear value for all consultancies, big and small. How can we make the programme work better for you?

Please submit any feedback you may have to [email protected].

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