Last edited 24 Aug 2021

Consultancy vs contingent labour

The Consultancy playbook, Government guidance on how to commission and engage with consultants more effectively, achieving better outcomes, better value for money and improved civil service capability through the transfer of knowledge and skills was published in May 2021. It provides guidance on how central departments can maximise value for money when sourcing consultancy services.

According to the playbook, “There are two main types of external temporary resource: consultancy and contingent labour (also known as temporary staff, interims or contractors). It is essential that the business unit chooses the option that balances high quality delivery with effective budget management."

The following checklist from the playbook provides an overview of typical consultancy services compared to that of contingent labour.

Typical characteristics of a consultancy:

  • Advice (often strategic) is provided outside the business-as-usual environment.
  • Skills/expertise are not available in-house.
  • Access to data and information are not available in-house.
  • Engagements are time-limited.
  • Specific deliverables/outcomes are defined.
  • The supplier has responsibility to meet those deliverables or outcomes.

Typical characteristics of contingent labour:

  • Operational expertise is not available in-house.
  • The role being filled exists within the organisation.
  • Specific, named individuals are performing a role or function rather than delivering specific outcomes.
  • The client retains management responsibility for the day-to-day performance of individuals and is responsible for defining the role or tasks they will perform.

For more information see: The Consultancy Playbook.

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