The role of the internal consultant

By: Barbara Kenton, Diane Moody and Ben Taylor

In 2003 Roffey Park’s Management Agenda reported that 32% of respondent organisations have internal consultancy teams, and that the majority of those who do not, believe their organisation would benefit from creating one. Whilst most work on consultancy draws upon the external consultant as an example, writers accept that there are particular issues faced by consultants operating from within. Internal consultants possess many of the skills deployed by their external counterparts and have the additional advantage of knowing the business – its systems, language and culture, from the inside. However the internal consultant works within a complex contractual environment where reporting lines may be the same as that of their client, they will typically not hold budgetary or other power to enforce change, and where they may be perceived as agents of a broader corporate agenda rather than true client helpers.This can result in role tensions, misunderstandings and loss of effectiveness. As numbers of internal consultancy groups grow, our research at Roffey Park has sought to find out more about this trend.

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