Optimising the balance of associates and employees

Being able to rapidly respond to the changing needs of clients whilst maintaining high quality delivery, as well as avoiding carrying a costly bench of resource, is an ongoing challenge for consultancies.

To ensure they have the right qualified resource available to them when they win a contract, how do consulting business owners set the strategy for the resourcing model that’s right for their business, and how do they implement it?

Caroline Boston, Managing Director of New Minds, has over 20 years’ experience in recruitment, resourcing and talent management. She hosted our webinar alongside David Bailey, one of our growth experts, to answer these questions and more. 

Finding THE balance

Your decision to implement an employee-biased model, a model weighted towards associates, or anything in between is determined by many factors. David began the webinar by explaining the reasons you may choose to employ more staff than use associates, and vice versa, and the outcomes you might expect.

Caroline then explained how the optimum ratio of permanent employees to associates within your consulting team will be determined by the strategic objectives that you have for your business. She emphasised that the ratio is likely to change as you grow. “What has worked in the past may not be what you now need to achieve your goals,” she said.

According to Caroline, when you are building out a permanent team, the key roles to focus on are firstly those at the top (leadership, client account management) and then those at the bottom (versatile junior resources).

“However, it is not simply a case of flipping associates into permanent positions,” she explained. “The level of contribution that you will expect from your permanent team, and their expectations of you as a employer, make employment a very different proposition.”

Remember the foundations

Caroline explained how to implement your optimum associate-employee mix most effectively, and what best practice looks like when it comes to managing resourcing as well as managing an associate network.

“Proactively building core internal processes and systems to manage resourcing,” she said, “enables you to react swiftly to client demand when it arises and maintain high quality delivery by both permanent employees and associates.”

She finished by discussing how to overcome some common challenges relating to resourcing and mitigate the risks associated with using associates.

Commenting after the webinar, Marc Jantzen, our founder, shared his experience of working with consulting owners. “Few consulting businesses have a clearly defined and documented resourcing strategy,” he said. “Mostly their strategy is reactive and short term focused to fulfil a project. This is at odds with the fact that in most cases our people are our product. If you want to achieve sustainability, part of the solution is an effective resourcing strategy, and optimising your mix of associates and employees is an integral part of this.”

Thank you to Caroine and David for their insightful webinar. For access to the full recording, and all our others, become a member of The Consultancy Growth Network.

Back to top

Article | Operations Talent

Written by

Ali El Moghraby

Head of Marketing

The Consultancy Growth Network

Related Insights