Business Practice Modules

The Business Practice Modules: content and scope.

FIDIC currently provides the following 2-day Business Practice training modules:

The consulting industry 

A discussion of the key leadership and management challenges affecting the consulting industry today, and current thinking regarding how they can and should be addressed by individual firm principals and managers and by industry associations.

 

Organizing a consulting firm

An outline of the alternative forms of firm organization - partnership, limited liability company, etc. This is supplemented by an overview of types of practice (domestic, international, etc.), laws and regulations affecting consulting firms, and a discussion of culture and ethics. The latter topic is discussed further in the Integrity management module.

 

Administration and organization of the firm's activities 

A discussion of the fundamentals of firm organization and administration. The section begins by describing alternative organizational structures and typical office space and equipment needs. Insurance policies of various types are described, including the important topic of professional liability (errors and omissions) insurance. Guidelines on standard operating procedures and standard contracts are provided. The module concludes with a discussion of benchmarks applicable to consulting firm administration.

 

Business development

A discussion of the business development function within a professional services firm, beginning with general marketing and promotion, proceeding through development of specific "sales leads" and culminating in the preparation of effective proposals. The  module concludes with a discussion of benchmarks applicable to business development in the consulting industry.

 

Human resources management 

A discussion of the wide range of human resources issues that must be considered in a professional services firm, which depend more than any other type of firm on the quality and motivation of their staff. The  module begins with a discussion of effective recruiting techniques - from developing job descriptions through to interviewing and indoctrination of new employees. This is followed by sections describing salary and benefit administration, employment terms and conditions, and staff management. Guidance is provided on the preparation of standard policies and procedures, health and safety procedures, and participation by employees in firm ownership. The  module concludes with a discussion of key performance indicators applicable to human resources management for professional services firms.

 

Financial management

A discussion of financial management as it applies to professional services firms. This  module begins with a discussion of accounting systems, referring to more detailed material in appendices. A typical Balance Sheet and Income Statement for a consulting firm are provided, along with comments on financial indicators that can be derived from these important documents. Management Information Systems are discussed next, followed by invoicing and collection of accounts receivable. Financial planning, particularly the annual budget cycle, is discussed along with cash flow management. The  module concludes with a discussion of financial benchmarks. Since these are among the most important indicators applicable to a consulting firm, more detail is provided in this discussion than in other modules.

 

Client relationships and communications 

A discussion of client relationships, their importance to a consulting business and the role of effective communications in building positive relationships. The discussion of relationships differentiates among different types of clients (government, private sector, individuals), and discusses how to handle problem relationships and crises. The next subsection covers effective communications of all types, ranging from informal verbal communications through e-mails, business letters and proposals. The  module concludes with a discussion of indicators that are applicable to client relations for a consulting firm.

 Project Procurement

This module presents a systematic approach to the procurement of projects for construction works for projects of all sizes and complexity (procurement of goods and services and disposal, as often covered by public procurement authorities and by suppliers of equipment, are not covered).

For the purposes of the module the ISO definition is adopted, ‘procurement’ is the process which creates, manages and fulfils contracts. Procurement commences once a need for services or construction works has been identified and ends when the services or construction works are completed. This means the processes from identification of a project up to receipt of tenders and award of contracts for its implementation, i.e., up to the point of commitment to start the supply of consulting services (e.g., design) and/or manufacture and/or construction of the works, as the case may be. The module will only consider those aspects of procurement up to the award of contract, and post-award (i.e., construction, operation and maintenance and eventual refurbishment or dismantling) are not considered.  Project Procurement layout.pdf 

Sustainable project management   

A discussion of the need to understand the concept and principles of sustainable development, based on a review of historical developments, especially the precautionary principle and the importance of the production - consumption model. There then follows a discussion of market needs for professional services in both the public and private sectors, the new requirements for sustainable procurement, and the business case. Practical guidance follows on how professional services forms can match market needs, develop appropriate skills, approach potential clients and help generate an appropriate business culture. The  module finishes with a summary of tools and methodologies for delivering sustainable projects. Project Sustainability Management layout.pdf 

 

Risk management      

A discussion of the principles of risk management as it applies to a professional services firm. This  module focuses on the underlying causes of professional indemnity claims , and the demonstrable benefits of applying a rigorous risk management to the commercial risk, and sharing best practice that addresses the underlying causes of claims, in order to minimise the likelihood of claims.  Enterprise Risk Management layout.pdf 

Quality management    

A discussion of quality management for professional services firms. Standardized approaches to quality management, notably continuous improvement at every transaction point in the delivery of services as exemplified by the ISO 9001 Standard, form the basis for the discussion. Quality Management layout.pdf 

 Integrity management    

A discussion of integrity management, based on FIDIC's recently-developed FIDIC Integrity Management System. While the principles of integrity management are similar to those of quality management, the subject is very broad and covers both external relationships of the firm (the potential for fraud and corruption in dealings with clients) and internal management (the potential for employees to abuse their positions for personal gain. Integrity Management layout.pdf 

Environment management   EM document

A discussion of the principles of environment management as it applies to a professional services firm. Environmental Management layout.pdf 

Other Business Practice modules are under development and may be provided as training modules in a near future.