“Top-teaming” – the AAB Consulting Approach

BLOG22nd Mar 2018

Many organisations find managing multiple consultancies complex and expensive.

Often consultancies will stray from core deliverables on a crusade to “land and expand” and pack teams with inexperienced and less capable consultants to support more valuable, experienced consultants.

The outcomes from these situations can include multiple “data gathering” exercises (often frustrating internal staff) and contradictory or overlapping conclusions delivered to different sponsors resulting in internal conflict between senior management, each arguing that the conclusions reached by their consultants are better than the others, and, of course, very expensive consulting bills.

At AAB we believe in picking the best team (“Top-teaming”) for any given business change initiative. The “Top-team” approach draws the best or most appropriate resources from external consultants or suppliers and internal resources to ensure the best possible outcome for the client.

The external resources may be used directly on the project or to back-fill within the organisation to free-up internal resources with the requisite skills and content to accelerate programme or change delivery.

The components of a typical “Top-team” include:

  • Key members of the client’s team who are involved in steering and delivering the initiative
  • Overall project/programme management expertise from AAB. This role includes ensuring effective programme governance, coordination of work stream activities, milestone reviews and maintaining a focus on “value for money” from both external suppliers, and from the programme as a whole
  • “Best of breed” specialists from AAB and our Trusted Partners or other client suppliers (if expertise is not available internally) to deliver focused outcomes
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Case Study

The problem

The client had a number of consultancies assisting with a number of initiatives to increase market share and customer insights.

The consultancies were each working on separate projects on customer segmentation, customer communications, a CRM selection project, a digital marketing platform and a new website.

The client’s staff were inundated with duplicated data gathering requests and repetitive meetings and as a result “business-as-usual” was suffering.

In addition, the consultancies were competing for follow-on work and were struggling to understand the scope of the other consultancies.

Consequently, multiple recommendations were being made beyond the scope of the individual work parcels allocated which were contradictory or included in another firm’s scope.


The solution

Using the “Top-teaming” approach, the resources from all the consultancies and from the business were “pooled” and assessed individually. Many of the consultants included in the firms’ teams were surplus to requirements (e.g. PMO support staff). Decisions were made to remove some of the staff from their day to day roles and give them project roles, backfilling them with external consultants.

The programme lead controlled the data gathering in a data room and each project’s scope was shared with all the teams (which by this time were multi-firm). The deliverables were controlled by the programme lead and it was made clear to the consulting firms involved that follow-on work would be awarded based on individuals’ contributions to the overall success and that the follow-on work would be awarded on the “Top-Team” principles.



The clients’ staff learned new techniques from the consultancies and from the individual consultants’ experiences. The amount of time wasted on data gathering was dramatically reduced and the distraction of the scramble for the follow-on work was felt to be less disruptive and contradictory. The work was delivered faster, cheaper and more cohesively with fewer external resources.

Find out more information on AAB Consulting’s team and services.