The heated demand is leading to a drive for talent thereby heating up the salaries in onshore and offshore geographies – thereby increasing the cost to serve for Consulting service providers by as much as 10%-20% on a fully-loaded op-cost per FTE basis depending on the underlying technology type and resource seniority. However, enterprises remain cautious and price sensitive on consulting spend and >80% of consulting engagements have some form or fashion of line-of-sight into tangible outcomes / impact.
Currently, the preferred pricing models for S&C are fixed fee based for clearly ring-fenced scope, outcomes, timelines, and with contractual flexibility to pause and/or terminate. Enterprises are also open to risk-gain share mechanisms BUT should be tread with utmost clarity and thought on scope due-diligence, underlying assumptions, dependencies, and outcome versus risk thresholds, else can be detrimental to an already diminishing margin turf for service providers.
Since the cost to serve for S&C is expected to remain elevated in the near to medium term, this segment of business is expected to see margin pressure. A negative margin scenario is only to be expected if providers do not push for a well-defined scope or outcomes, do not size/solution the effort and staffing accurately, or undercut strategically or competitively for downstream execution-led gains. Opportunistically leveraging the perceived ‘premium and niche skills’ market can offer consulting providers with some margin-cushion at a deal-level.