Choosing The Right Partner For My Organisation

Philip Jong

24 August, 2021

Philip Jong, Managing Principal Consultant 

at Decision Inc. UK

Should I choose a Specialist or Generalist? Or is there an alternative that offers the best of both worlds?

Choosing whether to partner with a specialist or generalist consultancy when embarking on a programme of work, can be challenging for organisations looking to deliver maximum success and value to the business.

As a prospective customer, many factors need to be considered. Are you looking for skills in a niche field? Are you looking for breadth of offering within one supplier? Is cost your main priority? Are you looking for industry specialism? What’s the best cultural fit for your organisation?

There is no simple answer as it really depends on the circumstances of the requirement and the priorities of the business.

Let’s explore the pros and cons of each and take a look at what the alternative might be.

What’s the difference?



    • A specialist consultancy focusses on one particular service offering, be that a specific technology (e.g. SAP Analytics Cloud) or type of consultancy (e.g. Change Management or Finance Transformation) or industry sector
    • These specific service offerings are where the experience and capability are concentrated – do one thing and do it very well
    • A specialist should have a wealth of experience in their particular field, will have already seen and dealt with most, if not all, likely requirements and be cost effective with it
    • Think of it as you would do when buying electronics equipment – you need a quality GPS system for your bike, you go to a brand known for expertise and history in the area, perhaps Garmin, if you need the latest in wireless home security camera technology, you might choose the Arlo brand
Specialist or generalist consultancy_Decision Inc_


    • A generalist consultancy focusses on providing a wide variety of services under one umbrella
    • The idea here is that, having access to expertise in many fields within one partner can save costs, reduce supplier management effort, and simplify commercials – and where new requirements appear, that may need a different type of resource, the generalist should be able to provide the skills quickly, saving the customer research and a potentially lengthy procurement process
    • Using the electronics analogy again, a brand that offers many consumer products under one roof; TVs, hi-fi equipment, cameras, tablets etc, such as Sony, will mean the customer will have the benefit of dealing with one provider, in one place, with one engagement experience

Specialist or Generalist – The Traditional Perception

Specialist: Pros

    • Deep knowledge in specific field
    • Extensive experience & success in multiple real-world implementations (seen it, done it)
    • Reduced risk – the best possible match of skill to requirement
    • Offshoring unlikely






Generalist: Pros

    • One supplier for advisory, consulting & technical needs
    • A “safe pair of hands”
    • Used to dealing with senior stakeholders in large organisations
    • Strong methodology





Specialist: Cons

    • Focus on technical skills
    • Not enough business/finance knowledge to understand requirements & interpret into a viable solution
    • Resourcing constraints – can they maintain scale & consistency across large deliveries
    • Inexperience in best practice project methodology and advisory roles
    • Potential risk – an “unknown quantity”
    • Lack of experience with enterprise/global size clients & stakeholders
    • Potentially one of several providers


Generalist: Cons

    • Expensive
    • Lack of depth in specialised technical skills
    • Lack of experience in implementing specific technologies and typical requirements
    • Potential for subcontracting/offshoring
    • Focus on a “heavy” management consulting approach
    • Large clients prioritised
    • Potential risk to quality of delivery



The Alternative – The Hybrid Consultancy


Specialist or generalist consultancy_Decision_Inc_


The ideal outcome for any organisation is to have the best of both worlds; a partner with a proven history in the desired field combined with strong methodology, scale, and management consulting skills, at a reasonable cost.

This is where a Hybrid Consultancy, such as Decision Inc., can offer real choice and an experience tailored to your specific needs.

    • Specialist resources with multi-year, multi-project success, with a blend of technical and functional, client facing, skills who understand finance business processes and the technologies that best meet the requirement
    • Overseen by a team of seasoned senior programme managers with experience delivering success in top tier consultancies
    • Supported by management consultants and advisory subject matter experts, where needed
    • To provide a holistic approach with the convenience of a single supplier

If you would like to discuss your needs further, please contact us at Decision Inc. UK


+44 845 544 0915


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