John Woods, Natalia Diaz, Afif Syahraztany and Song Jiratanatiteenun, Class of 2017, reflect on their first consultancy project at Alliance Manchester Business School – the Not-for-Profit Project.
One of the many reasons MBA candidates decide to study at Alliance Manchester Business School is its world-renowned reputation for real-world practical consultancy projects. The Not-for-Profit Project is the first opportunity we get to experience this, during which each candidate undertakes more than 200 hours of intensive work to solve a business problem for a third sector client. Having recently attended the end-of-project celebration event at the Imperial War Museum, we decided to reflect on our experiences from the ten-week project.
Who was the client and what was the brief?
John – “Our client for the Not-for-Profit Project was the Hallé – a professional symphony orchestra based in Manchester. In 2013 the Hallé acquired additional venues within Manchester’s city centre to provide its orchestra with additional capacity for rehearsal and recording. Since acquiring the space, the Hallé has looked to raise additional revenues through venue hire.
“In September 2015, the Hallé asked Alliance MBS to undertake a study into practical ways to maximise commercial opportunities at its venues. After receiving the initial bid, my team decided that this project was our favourite and decided to bid – luckily, we got the project!”
How did the team approach the consultancy project?
Natalia – “It was challenging for us to know exactly how to approach the project as it had such a wide scope. We started by creating our project plan with input from our project supervisor and using skills we had learned from the recent consultancy lessons. The plan included a research methodology consisting of secondary and primary research. Following this, we met with the Hallé to finalise the project scope and to further understand the business and how we would add value.”
“Once the project scope was agreed with the Hallé, we started to undertake secondary and primary research which concluded with analysis and recommendations.”
What did you achieve for the Hallé?
Song – “The end goal for the Hallé was to receive clear evidence to support their decision making and solve their business problem.
“The Hallé had some initial ideas about potential business expansions; however, they were just ideas without any empirical evidence. Then, our project team set a framework for analysis and a research hypothesis (for primary research) to examine the feasibility of several business ideas.
“As a result of the research and analysis, we concluded that the Hallé could target a certain customer segment with a value proposition. This was clearly identified and evidenced in the final consultancy report that the team gave to the Hallé. Hence, we successfully provided the Hallé with information to mitigate their original uncertainty surrounding business expansion decisions.”
What challenges did the project team face?
Afif – “Our team faced multiple challenges throughout the experience. The first big challenge was our limited source of human capital; we only had four team members to undertake an ambitious project with a wide scope.
“We therefore allocated the limited resources to different areas of the project. For example, John and I worked specifically on venue hire. This was to make sure we had people aligned to the project scope who were accountable.
“It was a very big challenge at the beginning of the project, but as we began to understand each other better, things started to improve. This was due to a better understanding of each other, high determination to succeed together on the project, and the trust that we each believed in each other and what we were doing.”
How have you benefited from the process?
Natalia – “The process was very constructive. This was primarily due to the fact the project team all had different professional backgrounds, cultures and nationalities… not to mention none of us had experience in consulting! Our professional experiences ranged from technology to marketing and finance.
“Once we understood how different cultures communicate we gained increased confidence in each other, which allowed us to share the tasks efficiently and work as a team. Also, we learned that it is crucial to be clear about what adds value to our client and what is just nice to have. Understanding what adds value is important at the end of a project to make sure you fulfil your client’s expectations and the project scope.”
“Our experience with the MBA team was extremely positive. The project provided some detailed research and helped us make progress with issues we have been wrestling with for some time, but perhaps haven’t had the time or capacity to do much in-depth work upon.
“Working with the team was very enjoyable and we are grateful to them for the enthusiasm and diligence that they approached the task with, particularly when we know the scope of our brief at the outset was very broad. It was very interesting to note, even over the relatively short period of time for the project, the personal development of the members of the team. It was clear that they had worked closely together and played to their relative strengths and the outcomes of their work, particularly the detailed report, has already proved very useful to us in terms of our forward planning.”
– Martin Glynn, Hallé Venues and Events Manager
To find out more about the Full-time MBA and consultancy projects please visit our MBA section >>