No Image Available

Seb Anthony

Read more from Seb Anthony

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Buyers use of associates as opposed to use of consultancies


Unless I have missed a huge trick over the past 15 years or so buyers of L&D seem to have a reluctance to use associates direct.

There seems to be a preference for organisations to "contract" work to consultancies who then "employ" associates to deliver it.

I'd love to know if
a) my observation is accurate and
if it is accurate,
b) why this reluctance exists.

I would presume that most organsiations could save a significant amount of money by using associates directly rather than paying a "middle man". This saving could therefore be ploughed back into L&D activity. It would also give a more direct relationship between buyer and deliverer as well as a shortened line of communication.

I have worked in this way with a couple of organisations and it seemed to have distinct benefits but most seem to stay with their larger consultancies.

I'd like to hear from any organisational buyers who would be prepared answer the "why?" and any of these folks or any associates who can disabuse me of my misunderstanding
rus slater

5 Responses

  1. The beancounters rule policy
    I agree this is what happens. As an associate I believe its the beancounters that are dictating policy on this one. It tends to go like this; accounts say they cant deal with small companies (and are leant on by the revenue – IR35 etc) thus they can only deal with larger companies who have had credit checks and are on preferred supplier lists. Often a lengthy tendering process is required to gain access to preferred supplier lists.
    The smaller companies get squeezed out because of size, scope and reach not expertise or quality.

    Thus its accounting practice thats driving these initiatives and not key departmental drivers.

    Thats my humble opinion.

  2. Not everyone
    Hi Rus,

    To be honest, I have a preference for dealing with associates (and I’m looking at the moment…) and small companies – and I know some of my counterparts in the City feel the same. I’ve said it here before but good suppliers are like gold dust and the service with smaller companies and associates is generally better. In my experience smaller companies and associates have been willing to get under the skin of the organisation and work collaboratively in developing solutions. Larger training companies can be inflexible and tend to offer ready-made solutions which aren’t always appropriate. Overheads mean it can be harder for them to be creative or to develop bespoke solutions. However, concerns about capacity may mean that for larger projects, a bigger company may be selected.

    Many training managers have themselves worked as trainers and/or management development consultants and with larger training companies you’re often dealing with sales people who don’t really have sufficient knowledge to have a proper conversation about the issues the organisation is facing.

    In terms of IR 35 is shouldn’t really apply if you have your own LTD company (unless you’re on a long term contract which can be tricky).

  3. from the corporates viewpoint

    Hi Rus, I asked a not too dissimilar question a while back.

    One issue is constancy of contract for very large organisations. Another is travel.

    I am prepared to travel and am aiming for contracts with corporates but have to get over the perception that as an individual I can deliver and maintain my end of the bargain.

    I am sure there are other perceived issues too…

    Rgds Euphrosene

  4. laziness
    I agree with many of the comments made but also think that one of the main reasons is the consultancies appear higher on the internet. Instead of investigating quality and cost the deciding factor is often who appears on the first page on Google et al.
    Also, in certain circumstances, consultancies do offer more suport srvices, for example runnning the clients training web pages.
    Goos luck

  5. thanks for your thoughts
    thanks to the folk who answered this question….you comments are appreciated


Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!