What kinds of assignments does ECAS do?
What drives us is doing interesting work. Over 80% of our work comes from word of mouth. When we spot an assignment that is interesting to us and tendered, then we'll apply for it. That's the other 20%. The way we're set up enables us to take this posture and carefully select what assignments we take on. We are lean, flexible, and commercial - but not focused on building a huge company. This enables us to deploy the right experts required to get an assignment done well. Our belief is that deploying highly competent consultants on work they find interesting and meaningful is critical for success. That’s the long answer. In essence, some of our assignments are on the Assignment Log. Most of the rest is bound by client confidentiality requirements and can't be disclosed.
Is ECAS a for profit business?
Yes – ECAS is a for-profit company. We bill clients for our services, of which a part covers expenses, part is remuneration for consultants engaged by the project, part is maintained as ECAS’ working capital, and much is spent on giving back through the Artraker Fund. Subsequently, a modest profit is then either reinvested in the company or paid as dividend to the Partners in proportion to their investment in the organisation. Our ‘hidden profit’ or second bottom line is the fact that our work is fulfilling in terms of an active contribution to societies that are rendered more secure after our intervention.
How does ECAS measure its performance?
The ultimate performance indicators in consulting are, of course, whether the client’s problem has been solved and/or other outcomes or outputs required have been delivered to high standard and in a timely way. We hold ourselves accountable to these, but also to five other process-indicators:
1. To deploy and keep on the job the best consultants for the task. We will never put consultants forth to the client and then replace them during implementation with others. Rather, we stick to what we’ve agreed with the client.
2. To make explicit to the client and use robust methods to achieve required results. The method used to deliver an outcome or output affects the quality of that outcome or output. We believe in robust methods and will develop such methods and agree them with the client. This helps draw on client insight, bolsters our approach, calibrates expectations, and keeps us accountable.
3. To combine, where relevant, sound local understanding, strong technical knowhow, and political savvy/sensitivity in assignment implementation. Most of the assignments we implement require all three elements – and we are committed to providing them.
4. To deliver outputs and results in a timely manner and proactively advise if delays are likely. Many of our new clients come to us because they hear we’re “both really competent and timekeepers”. Sometimes, of course, context-driven factors affect the timing of an assignment. As soon as we see that there may be risks of any delays, we’ll advise the client.
5. To deliver high quality outputs. For us this means “no fluff”, well-written and well-presented reports that use precise language, and that are insight and practice focused.
What is ECAS’ relationship to its sister companies and the INCAS Consulting group company in Malta?
We work closely with our sister companies, WACAS and ACAS. When a client asks us to do an assignment in Africa or Asia, we draw them in immediately. Indeed, they are why our clients approach us, in addition to the expertise we have in our own network. Similarly, WACAS and ACAS will approach us for experts when they have an assignment where we can offer added value.
We are not a traditionally set-up consulting group, with a big HQ in Europe or North America and offices in different parts of the world. Our model is different and regionally driven. We know that our clients look first to the region where the task is for the capacity to address it. That’s why we are a group of regional sister companies working closely together through a global holding hub in Malta. We all co-own the holding hub in Malta; while it (International Conflict and Security Consulting Ltd. in Malta) has a stake in all of us.
INCAS Consulting Ltd. in Malta also manages our training facilities there. This is very helpful and enables economies of scale to benefit all of us. When we have a training assignment for a client, we can offer them top-notch facilities in a beautiful island in the Mediterranean.
How does ECAS recruit their consultants?
Very carefully. ECAS was originally set up as a vehicle for a group of friends to do conflict and security consulting. We retain this philosophy, but with growth, we have nuanced our approach. Ten years on, our experts are selected not only for their qualifications, but also on their track-record in delivering well to clients and their ability to work well with others. Fundamentally, we are a group of hands-on, highly competent, and unpretentious experts who enjoy our work. We want to stay that way. There’s more on this in the Associate Brief given on the vacancy page. We’re told it is refreshingly blunt!
How does ECAS measure impact?
Some situations lend themselves better to measuring impact than others. For instance, if there are regular attacks on installations, or facility construction efforts are frequently disrupted, impact can be judged when there are fewer or no attacks or disruptions. Return on investment is easily quantifiable in these situations.
Measuring success in preventive action is trickier. How can you robustly state that you have “prevented something that never happened” from happening? However, we do have methods to show that we deliver results on the preventive side – and we can demonstrate the quality of our strategic work.
Does ECAS negotiate on behalf of the client?
We are rarely asked to negotiate on behalf of clients, largely because clients are better positioned to do so themselves. However, we are often asked by corporate or government clients to advise on deadlocked or difficult situations involving local communities, armed groups, or activists. In such eventualities, we begin by developing an understanding of the issues and gaining the confidence of the parties involved in order to intercede effectively. If we see that we can add value – and that there is scope for a sustainable win-win solution that benefits our client and other parties – we design and implement the processes necessary to get everyone there.