In 2003 Management Consulting firm Accenture created the Accenture Development Partnership (ADP) as a means of providing consulting services to NGOs, foundations and donor organizations working in the development sector. Since its launch, ADP has completed 200+ projects in 55 countries with more than 45 different client organizations.
I caught up with Senior Manager Chris Jurgens yesterday to better understand the program, its benefits to Accenture, as well as why it constitutes a “second generation” private-public partnership.
First Generation: pre-ADP
For Accenture the first generation of development consulting was its Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) program, inaugurated in 1999. Still in place today, the VSO program was instituted to allow Accenture’s consultants to take sabbaticals and engage in international development consulting for 6 months to 1 year.
The VSO advantage is that consultants remain Accenture employees and do not deviate from their career tracks. Consultants take a 50% pay cut, and they organize their own projects/partnerships with host NGOs.
The ADP Program: the details
The ADP program is version 2.0 as it built on the original model by creating a central program office to develop partnerships with the NGO clients and staff the projects with Accenture consultants. Example ADP projects include IT solutions, micro finance, and scaling up operations for relief efforts; projects last from 3 months to a year.
When the ADP program was created, Accenture engaged in marketing to get the word out and attract partners/clients. Some examples of Accenture partner organizations include: Oxfam, CARE, World Vision, UNICEF, Plan International, GSM Development Fund, and the Catholic Relief Organization. Accenture relies heavily on repeat business and gets 70-80% of its projects from its current 45 partners.
Chris explained, “We work in close collaboration with the partner organization to both plan and implement the engagement. We don’t just go away, work on the project, and come back with a recommendation. This collaborative model ensures that the projects make sense for the beneficiaries and that they are committed to participating and implementing the final recommendations.”
A Sustainable Business Model for the ADP: the cool part
Unlike traditional pro bono projects, the ADP program charges its clients a reduced rate that allows Accenture to nearly break even. Accenture foregoes profits from the engagements and pays the overhead for the ADP office, Accenture’s consultants accept a 50% pay cut while on the project, and finally the NGO covers the fees incurred for the consultants and their travel.
The 3-way contribution model is unique and ensures accountability and buy-in from all of the stakeholders as well as the sustainability of the ADP. The ADP is protected from budgetary constraints (including economic down-turns) as it costs Accenture a fraction of pro bono programs instituted by others in the industry. Finally Chris explained, “It allows ADP to take on 155 projects versus, say 10, if we were covering all of the costs.” The graphic below presents the ADP Contribution Model, from the Accenture ADP 2008 brochure.
The Benefits: m√©nage √† trois
The 3 way value proposition benefits Accenture, its employees, and the client organizations.
Version 3.0: NGO sandwich
We closed the interview by talking about the Clinton Global Initiative project that the ADP is running. The project will offer microfinance consulting to 10 Sub-Saharan African countries. The innovation lies in both the scope and impact of the project as well as the organizations involved. The project includes 2 client organizations, CARE and Plan International, as well as another private sector partner, Barclays.
So it’s a Private/NGO & NGO/Private partnership! Perhaps this signals a broadening role for ADP as a connector and creator of multi-partnered, cross-sector development projects (wow, that’s a mouthful).
Chris will be presenting with Robert Lalka (Duke MPP Candidate) and Kristi Ragan (Strategic Advisor for DAI) today at Net Impact. Hosted by Wharton, the panel takes place from 2:45-4:15 and is entitled Exploring the “Second Generation” of Private-Public Partnerships.
Liz Paxton is a first year MBA student at the Kenan-Flagler Business School and part of a team of students that is covering the Net Impact North America Conference for Triple Pundit. She is also a contributor to the Kenan-Flagler Blog.