FAQ Abyrint

Here are some examples of areas in which we support clients:

  • Supporting Central Bank in developing core banking operations
  • Developing national clearing and settlement systems
  • Developing Government treasury operations
  • Payroll systems and processes
  • Army/Military financial capabilities
  • National Police Force financial systems
  • Central Bank financial statement and processes
  • Supervision of commercial financial sector
  • Building national payment systems
  • Financial governance strategies
  • Public Financial Action Plans
  • Supreme Audit Institutions
  • Infrastructure program for government
  • Presidential Delivery Unit
  • Counter terrorism financing and anti-money laundering

Clients take important decisions based upon our recommendations. These have to be based upon facts. Many will, unfortunately, rush into solutions without having understood the actual problems. This can get very expensive.

Getting the analytics right upfront, is obviously preferred, but you will be surprised how many that rush into solutions without having understood the problem first.

Not necessarily, but it helps. Most important is that you are analytical and have an inquisitory mindset. But mastering quantitative analytics is a must. Much work, even on the frontier, involves large and complex datasets. It is often our job to try to distill the important insights for the client. While it is their data, many organizations do not have n-hlouse capabilities to distill the important insights, even from their own data.

On the frontier, just finding and assembling data to analyze is in itself a major undertaking. The data are rarely clean or designed to be analyzed. It takes real creativity, exploration and a bit of detective work to distill insights in those situations.

Other times, it is necessary to derive information from multiple sources; quantitative and qualitative. The technical data handling of such work may be less complex, but connecting the dots, and focusing on what really provides insight to the client, is what it is all about.

Occasionally, if necessary to complement the core teams. For example, when we first moved into core banking operations and payment systems, we engaged world class expertise on the technologies. This guided the team on technical issues and they could integrate those insights into the other work.

We are not a body shopping firm. There are many of these in this market. Indeed, many clients are seeking consultants primarily as skills supplements. They know what the problems are, and how to deal with them, and all they need is capacity.

Sometimes, we feel that there is too much emphasis on finding the one, right person. Clients may overlook the benefits of engaging a joined up team.

Usually 2-3 consultants led by an experienced partner. Sometimes supported by additional experts, and/or consultants, in high intensity periods of the project.

We are probably less leveraged than the larger firms, meaning that there is more senior involvement. We believe that clients benefit from this because we can more effectively direct the teams and address the key issues more precisely rather than fumbling around.

The starting point is that an Abyrint team are all core staff in the Firm. They have not just first met in the elevator up to the meeting room. We are joined up.

Teams are trained and experienced in working together. There are routines and established systems for problem solving and for research. There is dedicated technology to support this in which the teams are trained and experienced. Production of materials for the client is effective as there are established systems and processes for this.

Importantly, much of what makes a consulting team able to solve difficult problems effectively cannot entirely be codified. Its cultural.

And that is a culture we actively nurture. We have an organisational model that brings people together, rather than keeps them apart.  Focus on building and maintaining a culture that fosters collaboration and mutual respect, and on using metrics that encourage people to share, not hoard, their knowledge and time.

We do much work in conflict zones. Its complicated.

That being said, while intimidating at first, there is more normalcy than one would expect even in the most challenging of places.

Our teams are brilliant consultants, but not security experts by default. We recruit business school students and not special forces soldiers.

We manage the risks well and reduce them to a minimum. Because we train our staff on these issues, have operating procedures tailored for the environments, and work much with security agencies, both private and government, to ensure that our teams can work safely and effectively.

This is a world that we knew little about when we first started in 2013. We were lucky in that we launched out of a project of a multinational giant firm, who devoted much of their international security resources in setting up the operation.  We learned much from that. And by now, we have internalized these capacities.

Not really. We meet clients in fragile states governments that are as demanding and skilled as anywhere else.

Sometimes the clients, in the most unexpected of places, have experience in working with high street firms in the worlds capitals and they expect the same of us.

There is no question however, that the context in which the work takes place can be much more complex. These are unstable and volatile states. At the bottom of the J-curve as Ian Bremmer of Eurasia group would say. These are very dynamic and shifty environments. This is more challenging.

Also, the problems are more fundamental. They are often part of historical nation building. What is done now will determine the pathway for perhaps decades to come. Thats humbling.

A little. More to come.

For now, work has been focused on critical policies for core government functions. To the extent that it would be a conflict of interest to engage in strategic or operational work with private sector clients in the same markets.

There is demand however, and we have had several discussions. This is likely to grow in the future.

Our clients determine the confidentiality. In fact, our most significant clients are adamant about confidentiality. Our work often contributes into complex political and strategic decisions where confidentiality is necessary.

Confidentiality is obviously expected in advisory work around the world.  But, we are aware that many in the development aid financed consulting work produce lists and work samples. But most of our clients have confidentiality as default.

Mostly not, because it is delivered in confidence.

There are however exceptions and we shall do some work to tease out what can be published on our website.

No. Most isn’t. Its branded as client work.

A lot of the work, especially for design and implementation, is to support change in the organizations. The deliverables are designed to integrate into the organizations and guide their work for a long time after we are gone. It wouldn’t resonate well with the culture of the organization if their internal materials carried an external brand. This typically includes procedures, rules, guidance materials, technical flow charts and IT blue prints, work flow descriptions, role descriptions, implementation plans and so forth.

Also, strategic work is often branded as client material. We have helped clients articulate complex strategies and concepts that they have brought to international fora. Clients use this to strengthen their credibility. Consultants shall ideally remain in the background. The objective is that the client looks good.

In some situation, however, especially for complex analytical and strategic work, clients prefer our work to be delivered branded. This is often used externally with respect to their stakeholders. Some of this material may be circulated more widely and could be available if you search deep enough.

If you are very familiar with the work, but lacks capacity to do it yourself, hiring individual consultants can be worthwhile. This also when there is need for expert bodies. If in need of several people, consider engaging a firm that specializes in bundling individual consultants to take the administrative overhead.

If it is not a capacity issue, and you are not only seeking skills, but more looking towards solutions to problems, think consulting firm.

This often focuses on solving new sets of problems, or indeed to figure out what the problems really are. And this is more likely to be associated with consulting firms that can engage analytical problem solving skills and that are fully joined up.

We are already global.

In terms of expanding the physical footprint with offices around the world. We hope so. That type of expansion will bring us closer to some clients.

Our core criteria is that we will need to function as truly one firm globally. Not as a network of local firms. Consulting firms typically expand globally either through (i) MA with a local firm somewhere, or (ii) Organic growth from the core.

We believe in the latter because this enables us to ensure that we can nurture the same culture, collaborate and not compete across borders. The culture of a consulting firm is so fundamentally important to deliver high quality consistently.

Expanding the global footprint is then about nurturing growth elsewhere. And the seeds are planted. Hopefully coming to fruition soon.

Work for public sector in developing countries is aid financed one way or another.

Its like having two clients. We have been fortunate in that in the clients have been quite joined up.

This is not guaranteed. Sometimes the donor agency can be more distant, which makes it difficult for the donor to understand the quality of what is done. Othertimes, work can be more pushed from the donor agency than pulled from the recipient country.

Balancing this can be tricky. The consulting firm is obviously a factor in this dynamic. We try to seek out those options where the two are truly joined up because it is the only situation where results can be sustainable and impactful.

Ultimately this is about whether we make successful contributions to what the client is trying to accomplish. We have managed well so far. Most of our work is repeat for the same clients.

Determining quality of consulting services is notoriously difficult. Scientists call this a problem of opaqueness. You almost need to be part of the process to experience its quality. It is almost not possible to ascertain its quality if you have not been part of the process.

Those that work with us have been convinced.

Yes. But we avoid canned approaches. It rarely benefits clients to carry over canned solutions, absent from facts and analytics, and delinked from actual problems.

At the core for us is the problem solving methodologies. These are designed to determine the problem statements, identify the key issues, hypothesizes and do the analytics effectively. Furthermore, we work much on developing effective narratives and strategic communication of the insights.

A number of analytical techniques, especially for benchmarking, often applies pre-existing concepts. For example, a PEFA analysis of a government treasury system allows comparison with other countries of the world. Similar methods can be applied for a range of different aspects of government. Some of these analytical techniques are pre-designed, i.e detailed analytics of internal control systems or of other organizational features.

There is also a range of pre-existing templates and tools that makes the work more effective. For example, frameworks that sets out core aspects of an organization. Which areas are important to focus on? This is helpful to structure the analytics and to provide specific detail  when digging into, i.e technology implementation.

We find, however, that clients need very tailored and specific solutions. To the extent that pre-existing materials are only an inspirational starting point. It helps, but we are there to resolve new problems, not to bring to the clients what they could have found on google.

This is about strategic communication. Our work speaks to leaders, to staff, and internal and external stakeholders. They are overwhelmed by information.

The insights from our work needs to reach them amidst all the noise. Producing a crisp presentation, that can function as its own text, or on the boardroom projector, is part of this.

A carefully crafted storyline is a bit art, and quite a bit of science, but entirely necessary to ensure that the important insights are conveyed.