Superior consultation: what makes a successful collaboration with government?

Consult and collaborate with a broad array of companies for successful project outcomes, according to professional services company, ICM Consulting.

ICM Consulting CEO Yair Iny. Image: GovNews

In our previous interview with Yair Iny, chief executive officer of Australian professional services company ICM Consulting, we found there is far more to consulting with a government client than what meets the eye.

And in this extension of that interview in this article, we find the nitty-gritty details of how collaboration between a government department and a service vendor like ICM Consulting goes far beyond a Request for Tender and all those traditional processes.

Rather there is a human element that highlights the trust between collaborators that underscores the importance of delivering a project with the best possible outcomes.

GovNews continues its in-depth talk with Mr Iny and his company’s fascinating and highly valued work with Service NSW and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA).

Q: In government organisations, due to some very cumbersome procurement policies and other somewhat archaic internal policies, they’re sometimes left behind when it comes to wider advancements in ICT – what do governments need to do in order to stay up to date and create best practice?

A: I think they need to do a few things. They need to engage with the industry, and not necessarily in the context of projects. For example, instead of just going out for a Request for Tender (RFT), bring in some potential vendors or maybe do an Expression of Interest (EOI) process and ask for ideas from the vendors, and make that contingent that you need to participate in the EOI to be part of the tender. Just engage with industry. There are people and companies out there who need to use technology and they need to understand what’s going on to make a living. They are always going to be more motivated then. This isn’t just about government, it’s all about motivation across all sectors. In companies like ICM Consulting, we’re highly motivated to understand what’s going on in the market because we would have no competitive advantage otherwise. I would also advise to broaden your horizons of who you’re talking to. Many smaller companies aren’t aligned with a specific technology, so we’re not trying to push anything on our clients because we don’t get any benefit from pushing any specific technology on our clients. The only thing we care about is delivering the best solutions to our client as quickly and cost effectively as possible.

Q: What are the common issues that are experienced by government organisations that ICM Consulting has identified?

A: Some of the issues identified we can solve. But obviously there are a lot of organisational issues around how government is also realigning more to using external providers. So there’s a lot of flux. If you take cloud for example, there’s the question of how governments have handled all their IT internally and transitioned to using software-as-a-service or to exposing some of their data outside. We can obviously help in that area from our knowledge of how to deploy cloud solutions, but that’s only part of the issue. The other part where I would say we have a lot more ability to help is that a lot of work for government clients and other clients is that they’re not extremely unique things, everyone’s got their slant on it. When you’ve talked to someone who’s seen a lot of things around the industry, especially as we have, then you can get some ideas on how to solve your problems which you wouldn’t necessarily have had before.

Q: Any project comes with its own built-in complexities, so that said, what have been the most challenging tasks that ICM Consulting has faced and how did it approach those challenges to finally solve them?

A: There are many different types of challenges. Talking about government, the biggest project that we’ve done is Service NSW and that had complexity due to its size. One of the issues was when we started working with Service NSW, we were a fairly new organisation, and we had to adapt constantly to their needs, and at the same time, focus on the delivery. That was a big challenge from our perspective and the way we dealt with that is just by thinking outside the box. And again I can mention the infrastructure, saying let’s make a copy of all the infrastructure while they’re in flux so we can just run things on our own, and we didn’t even charge them for that, it was just something we did because it gave a better outcome for them, and just constantly changing how they wanted things to be delivered to them at first, we would deliver the solutions into their systems and they started getting more structure and we are just having to adapt to a changing organisation. And again in that sense, working with a company like ours, it was obvious that we were going to adapt and there was never a question of “no but you said it was going to be this way, therefore changing it is going to cost you x, y and z”. So I’d say one of the big ones was adapting to constantly changing requirements, changing environments, different people that we had to work with throughout the project all the time.

Q: In relation to government clients, what have been ICM Consulting’s biggest success stories?

A: Obviously I would name Service NSW, and another good outcome from our perspective is the work we did with the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA). We did a lot of work with APRA right from the start of the company’s inception, with helping them with the reporting collection system, they have a system called D2A, which is Direct to APRA, which collects information from all the banks and all the regulated entities, and we’ve been involved with that system for a long time. We did a lot of work on their systems to helping them adapt when AUSkey came out standard business reporting, helping them build an auxiliary system for standard risk reporting using XBRL, which is a different standard that’s being pushed across government (federal more than state). We were helping them with performance, helping them cope with requirements and it’s just a long engagement that’s been going on for a while with APRA. And we’re looking forward with them to the future when they starting rolling out new systems. When you look at APRA’s engagement and the work we did with them, the key to that again is sure we have very strong technical capability and technology but also the key is we really understand APRA as an organisation and we support them. They’re a very conservative, very risk averse organisation as they should be, with the data that they’re dealing with. They’re very focused on performance and being able to handle the huge amounts of data that they’re collecting. And the approach that we do things with APRA is very different to the approach when we do things with a different client, for example Pandora because their drivers are different and what they’re looking for is different.

Q: What’s the common experience that government clients regularly express about their collaboration with ICM Consulting?

A: The feedback we normally get is good! The best way for a consulting company to know the feedback is good is when the client wants to continue engaging with you. The feedback we get is that the advice we give is good, the outcome we give is good, and they like working with someone who can give them ideas and not just execute what they want and someone who can understand their business, then they don’t have to keep explaining themselves and keep explaining their drivers and motivations.

View ICM Consulting Profile

ICM Consulting gives organisations access to the advanced tools that power leading disruptors – matching the tech to the strategy, getting it built and providing the people to do it.

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