TURNKEY PUBLIC MANAGEMENT TOOLKITS--Helping managers and consultants assess and improve the delivery of programs and services in the public sector.
TURNKEY PUBLIC MANAGEMENT TOOLKITS--Helping managers and consultants assess and improve the delivery of programs and services in the public sector.
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A Tool to Assess the Capabilities of Consulting Organizations

Micheal Kelly

As the saying goes, the shoemaker's son always goes barefoot.  Periodically, consulting organizations must do an assessment of their own capabilities.

The consulting services capability assessment tool is intended to help consulting firms, in-house consulting groups and consultants to assess the capabilities of their organization. 

You identify the key strategic capabilities required of your organization, taking into consideration the type of the services you provide, the marketplace and corporate goals.  Capabilities typically include people skills, technology, processes, policy, commitment, management framework and resources.

You then assess your capabilities based on different states or plateaus that the organization may strive to achieve based on generally recognized common/best practices that you can customize to reflect the capabilities required of your organization.  A pdf version of the capability maturity model is provided (you can also purchase a fully editable version of the tool in Power Point--Consulting Services Capability Assessment Tool). 

Guiding principles in applying the capability assessment tool are highlighted below. 

Focus on organization-wide capabilities

Although specific areas of the organization may have gaps, the primary focus of the capability assessment is on improving capabilities of the organization overall.

Assess the importance of each capability to your organization at this time

Organizations progress through plateaus or stages of capabilities or excellence (referred to as Limited, Developing, Norm, Best Practice, and World Class).  Depending on the capability, organizations can strive to reach a certain plateau, and then may be content to remain at that plateau.  In other cases, they may wish to excel in a particular area, and devote the necessary effort and resources.  Similarly, an organization may reach a certain stage, and then fall back over time relative to best practice, simply because of its focus on other priorities.

Focus on the human capital of the organization 

An underlying theme of the capability assessment is for organizations to plan and strengthen their employee capabilities, provide for adequate succession of management over the long term, and foster a culture that is responsive to change and encourages innovation.  Therefore the strong focus on competencies as a key element of the capability assessment. 

Recognize that the organization can only focus on selected improvement areas at any one time

Organizations must assess where they wish to focus their limited resources (i.e., which capability), knowing full well that they cannot be the best at everything. 

Build upon changes already made to existing practices and progress made

Consulting organizations are undergoing changes on an ongoing basis.  The objective is to build upon existing processes and practices, and identify those areas where capability improvements are the highest priority and will have the most leverage on the success of the organization.

Adopt a future oriented vision of capabilities required

The notion of capabilities is future oriented…what must be developed within the organization to respond to future challenges.  To do so, organizations must be able to prioritize and focus on improving specific capabilities.

Focus on addressing the gaps between “as is” and “to be” capabilities

Identify the tasks required for the organization to move to a higher level of capability (where appropriate).

Consider the overall context so as to ensure that the opportunities identified are aligned with the business and strategic directions of the organization

For example, the clientele served, the state of the marketplace overall, technology changes, and the specific objectives of the organization in the short and long term.

Identify the key strategic capabilities required of your organization

A key step is to select the overall key strategic capabilities required of the organization.  Dialogue is essential around these key capabilities, recognizing that capabilities are a composite of services, people skills, technology, processes, and policy; and vary depending on the nature of the consulting business and services provided. 

The tool identifies the following key capabilities as a starting point.


Assess your capabilities using the maturity model

Some 20 criteria aligned with the above key capabilities are provided in the capability maturity model (see list below).  Select those criteria that apply to your organization, and then assess your organizational capabilities.  Five level descriptions are provided in the capability assessment tool.  

 Key capabilities and assessment criteria

Key strategic capability


Scope of services

  • Service offerings

Product development

  • Product management
  • Sharing of best practices

Opportunity management

  • Opportunity management
  • Risk management
  • Proposal/presentation development
  • Management of qualifications

Client relationship management

  • Client relationship management
  • Client account management

Communications and branding

  • Communications and branding

Service quality

  • Managing service quality
  • Project management and delivery
  • Ethics, independence and conflict of interest
  • Client satisfaction

Consultant engagement

  • Recruitment and retention of professional consulting staff
  • Consulting staff training and development
  • Consulting staff satisfaction and engagement

Practice management 


  • Contractual arrangements
  • Project documentation
  • Practice management technology

Public management toolkits

Now back to consulting business.  The capability assessment guide and tools on the TURNKEY Public Management Toolkits site in the capability assessment collection provide a detailed description of the capability assessment process as well as templates to help complete a successful capability assessment for client organizations.  These tools are fully editable and can be adjusted depending on the assignment.  The capability assessment tools have been tailored to 15 specific functions.  A generic capability assessment tool is available as well.

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  • Marie Claire on

    My boss would like to have an organizational capacity assessment for all the employees in our office. he would like to avail of this service since he wants to make sure that all the employees are capable, willing, and worth the company’s compensation. As you mention in your post, Measuring a person’s capacity entails analyzing their stress level, workload, and skills. The stress level is the most important of these three variables. If the stress level is low, they will be more willing to take on additional work, make disruptive adjustments, and master new abilities. https://cerfodesgroup.com/organisational-capacity-assessments/

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