A new consulting company GPN – Global Professional Network was recently established in Georgia.
According to GPN, there is no other firm utilizing concept similar to theirs on Georgian market that is abounding with consulting companies and thus it has no analogues. The said company employs a completely innovative model – GPN has brought together experts employed in various companies and organizations into a single pool of professionals.
Following is the interview with the founder and the CEO of the company, Vakhtang Machavariani.
Question: How did you come up with this new concept?
Answer: The idea was based on the fact that the partners of the company (each of them has an extensive and diverse experience of working in various fields) encountered a number of problems while interacting with ordinary consulting companies. The deficiencies of consulting service incited an idea of elaborating a new concept of intellectual service that would meet the real needs of business whilst offering more flexibility to the clients and experts. The idea of setting up a professional network was refined over time. The partners researched relevant foreign practice as well. It became clear that companies offering similar services were emerging and establishing themselves in the US and Europe as well. I hope that Georgian business will also benefit from this innovative concept of intellectual service.
One of the most striking shortcomings of the industry is the fact that consulting companies, when approached by a client with a certain problem or a task to solve, tend to offer allegedly highly-professional employee that is supposedly able to provide qualified services. Nevertheless, it is obvious that that even highly qualified specialist suggested by such a company may not be equally skillful in solving every aspect of the problem.
To give an example, a client may be willing to solve legal problems related to energy industry. The law firm may offer the customer a highly qualified lawyer, who is unaware of all the nuances of the energy sector. However, the law firm is compelled to convince the client that the suggested candidate will offer him the best service on the market. Its main incentive is to hold on to the customer whilst providing employees with the clientele, otherwise, it will have to pay the salary to the staff members from its own pocket. Given the limited timeframe of such case, even the highly qualified lawyer who glanced through the applicable legislative acts will not be as familiar with the nuances of the energy sector as an attorney with an extensive experience of working in the said field.
GPN has a profoundly different operating principle. It will offer an expert with a narrow specialization and a specific knowledge befitting the needs of the customer. Due to the substantially different approach employed by GPN, it is able to afford cooperation with hundreds of experts in various fields. Therefore, in case like above, our company will offer the customer a specialist or a group of specialists ideally capable of solving his/her particular needs.
Question: if my understanding is correct, the said experts are not employees of your company?
Answer: that is correct. In fact, we have created a network of professionals, an intellectual hub. Our greatest capital is an extensive and fully systematized database of distinguished experts operating in various fields. Filling in, improvement and perfection of the said database is an ongoing process.
Experts of GPN work at various companies and organizations (including firms that offer services similar to ours) in Georgia and abroad. We also recruited independent experts – freelancers. Their agreement with GPN is based on the principle of cooperation – namely, experts join the database of the company and provide the latter with the information about their qualification and experience. They may joining the database quite easily – by filling out an application form available on our website. We offer cooperation and the database membership only to those professionals, whose knowledge and expertise are acknowledged by us personally. Such cooperation may also be offered to those, who are recommended by a reliable source or whose qualifications have been tested using a trustworthy methods.
Thus, when a client addresses our company, GPN selects an expert with knowledge and experience tailored to the needs to the task set by the customer, thus offering specific need-based services. Furthermore, the database includes dozens of specialists of each particular field, hence, finding several experts/a group of experts and offering them to client is quite easy. Meanwhile, the client is entitled to acquire full information about the qualification and the experience of the suggested expert and may ask for other candidates as well.
Question: hence, the company links the client and the expert, is that correct?
Answer: No, GPN is not a mere middleman. Our company concludes the contract on provision of services with the client and is responsible for the timeliness and the quality of the provided services. Expert acts as a subcontractor of our company. We are fully liable to the client and we coordinate and control the work of experts. In simpler terms, clients do not have to “follow” every step of a particular expert by asking questions about the timelines, quality of the provided work, etc.
Question: How many experts does your database include?
Answer: GPN’s database already includes more than 200 experts. The database is filling in and refining on a daily basis.
Fields of services provided by GPN include law, finances, informational technologies (IT), human resources (HR), marketing. Detailed information about sub-directions of each of these fields is available on our website www.gpn.ge.
GPN also plans to diversify the list of services. New sector/area will be added only after the company finds and recruits at least several best experts of the area. We will not branch out to a new field without due preparation – depending only on a few specialists.
We plan to offer a novel – quite a specific and very much needed service. Namely, we intend to provide consultations/services in the area of evaluation/implementation of the system of combatting money laundering and the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) as well as consultations/services related to evaluation and implementation of so called FATCA system.
Question: you mentioned that most of the experts are already employed by the other companies, including consulting companies. My question is whether the individuals employed by other enterprises will have enough time to work with clients addressing GPN.
Answer: Given current state of our economy, consulting companies are not addressed by plenty of clients. Furthermore, our experts are not employed only by other consulting firms. In short, the shortage of time normally is not a problem.
Furthermore, it shall be noted that model of our interactions with the experts is quite comfortable to them. Neither of them is compelled to take over the case offered by GPN. If a specific expert does not have time to work on the suggested case, he/she may refuse and we will address another specialist with the comparable qualifications. As I noted previously, we try our best to have tens of experts in any given area to avoid such kind of problem if an expert does not have time, or he/she is on vacation, etc. We make every effort to have alternatives in any given direction and sub-direction.
Question: Are there any other distinguishing features that differentiate you from other companies?
Answer: Another problem encountered in the process of cooperation with the consulting companies is the fact that clients normally, tend to address such enterprises due to one or a few partners who have established themselves as good specialists. The partner in question meets the customer, they negotiate upon the terms of the agreement and conclude the contract. However, later on it becomes clear that junior staff is entrusted with the task of provision of the requested services. In the best-case scenario, the partner reviews the results of the performed work. In other words, the final product is merely signed by the partner and he/she is not engaged in the process. It shall be noted that said phenomenon is not encountered only in Georgian consulting companies. The same approach is practiced by companies in developed countries as well.
On the other hand, GPN ensures maximum engagement of the specific expert/specialist in the provision of the services. The said individual personally performs the entrusted work. The candidate, whose knowledge and expertise meets the demands of the client is selected from the database.
Question: you indicated that your company is able to provide a group of experts to solve multifaceted problems as well.
Answer: that is correct. GPN has this kind of advantage as well. For instance, when a new investor enters Georgian market, or an existing company intends to branch out in a new industry, they require multifaceted aid. In the majority of cases, they need legal assistance, financial consultancy (financial modeling as well as solving the tax-related issues); nowadays, they may also need provision of IT services. On the later stages they might require marketing and HR related services.
Currently, the businesses tend to purchase said types of service from various companies – whereas the lawyer works at one firm, IT specialist is employed by another enterprise, financial specialist cooperates with the third one, etc. When such kind of specialists work on the same project, the lack of coordination tend to entail major problems. Mutual blaming is quite common in such situations. On the other hand, GPN creates a team of specialists of various fields and ensures proper project management. A single company is responsible for the actions of the specialists in diverse areas and guarantees their coordinated work. The client deals with one entity and is entitled to express concerns due to the malpractice of the member of the team. The customer will not have to listen to the mutual blaming of the team members in case of their flawed or untimely performance. We will take care of this aspect of work to ensure full team coordination. Respective approach proves to be very comfortable for the clients.
Question: Do you think that you will be able to offer competitive price to the customers?
Answer: I consider that this is yet another advantage of ours. Namely, standard consulting companies often incur additional costs. For instance, payment provided by the client to the company is shared among the whole hierarchy of the employees (directors, founders, direct performers). Acquired financial resources are also utilized to cover office maintenance costs, paying salaries to the technical personnel and other staff members, etc. In our case, the costs are minimized – this will enable us to offer quality service at an optimal price.
Thank you very much. Good luck in your future endeavours.