If you run a local small or medium-sized organisation in the private, public or third sector you're eligible to take part in our Business Consultancy Project (BCP).
In the Business Consultancy Project, you'll use the expertise of our students to develop your business. By putting their learning into practice, our students can help you with projects such as:
- Using marketing theory to develop better social media strategies
- Conducting competitor analysis to highlight gaps and opportunities
- Creating sustainable ways to attract funding for a social enterprise
- Conducting staff interviews to optimise internal business processes
- Evaluating customer feedback to generate solutions
- Recommending new products and services
There's no fee for taking part in this project, as the students aren't paid for their involvement. You don't need to provide desks at your workplace either. Students are expected to visit your work premises and some meetings may be online, but they'll complete the bulk of their project work elsewhere, either on campus or meeting key people such as your own clients.
You'll need to be from the local area, which normally means that your premises are in Southeast Hampshire or West Sussex, within an hour's travel by public transport from the University. We expect all projects will be mainly in person, supplemented by online working and meetings when needed.
It gave us resources we didn't have, to look at problems we didn't have time to look at. So it gave us a big business opportunity for a small business environment. It brings in fresh thinking. Also, a lot of people might bring in the fact that they're so young as a disadvantage, but absolutely not. It brought in certain new energy and ideas that actually we hadn't even considered before.
How the Business Consultancy Project works
Your application form will be the basis for the project brief. You'll be allocated a team of about 4 students in early October and the team will work on your project for 10 weeks from October to December. Students are expected to work on the project for about 10 hours per week, per student – with a team of 4, that’s 40 hours total each week.
Our skilled and experienced academic tutors will support the student teams throughout the project.
You'll have access to an online client guide with key information about how BCP works and be invited to attend an online briefing on Tuesday 20 September.
There's an annual Celebration Event held after the completion of all student projects for that year. During the event, we'll be hearing from some of the clients and students about the success in and learning from their projects and there will be plenty of opportunities to network.
The consultancy process
The Business Consultancy Project usually follows the process below:
- Project design
- Analysis and research
- Solutions development
- Recommendations development
- Final presentation of results
Throughout this process, we encourage our students to experiment and try out potential solutions.
Promoting sustainability is a central theme in the University's strategy. So we want all students taking part in the Business Consultancy Project to find solutions for you that contribute to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals and/or to the Circular Economy.
Skills the students can bring to your business
In their first year, each student will have learned the basics of marketing, accounting, Human Resources, operations, quantitative methods and economics. In the second year and final years, students will have specialised in different subjects depending on the modules they've chosen to study. We recommend you ask the students what their skills and strengths are once the project has started to ensure the project makes good use of their abilities.
Students on any of the following courses can take part in the Business Consultancy Project:
Our students in action
Supporting your student team
For most students, this is the first time they'll have taken on a consulting project, and for some it may be their first time working with an external organisation. So any help and advice from you to our students in working on their project is welcome. You'll have a key role in inspiring the team through sharing your own experiences and any suggestions as to how the team can improve.
It's important to remember that students are expecting to learn and work as consultants, not as an extra resource to carry out day-to-day work. You should allow your student team to use their creativity to explore new avenues, including those that might challenge your assumptions about the situation.
To get the most out of a project, communication between you and your student team is essential, both face-to-face and online. You'll want to introduce your student team to any staff members they'll work with and provide them with any additional resources and contacts they need.
You and the student team will be meeting weekly for progress updates by the team and to determine the next stages. You’ll need to plan in time to respond to queries and teams will often produce interim solutions that you can consider implementing.
You'll need to attend the team’s end-of-project presentation to hear and give feedback on their final recommendations. You're not required to formally mark this presentation but your feedback as a client will be gladly accepted. You can invite any other interested parties to this presentation.
Examples of past projects
The BCP module has been running for several years, giving hundreds of clients the benefit of a fresh set of minds to find practical solutions to business challenges.
For the 2021–2022 academic year, 28 business consultancy projects were run between October 2021 and January 2022, with 100 students.
These are examples of the types of organisations and their projects that students have worked on
Portico is the deep-water cargo port in Portsmouth, and has run several projects with BCP. Examples are:
- Explore options for the business case for using green energy sources in the Port.
Though not having technical skills in the energy sector, the team researched the options available from a business strategy perspective, and carried out an in-depth cost/benefit analysis. Proposing a series of options for the customer to take forward. The team highlighted the diversity of stakeholder perspectives to consider in this challenging task.
- Investigate new sources of income for Portico's Customs Agency.
The student team were faced with the challenge of exploring areas of growth in imports that the Customs Agency could take advantage of, given the changing regulations post Brexit. This was a complex project given the vast range of types of goods and countries of origin, and the students applied a structured and strategic approach to narrow down the opportunities and the associated income growth.
Alpus is an International group of companies carrying out property developments and providing training in construction management.
"Thank you very much for the excellent presentation that you made to Alpus Group today. You have demonstrated that you have understood the problem very well, in relation to this relatively new niche market of Commercial to Residential conversions.
You have identified the many competitors that my company has. You have identified some realistic actionable steps that will enable me to communicate with my chosen target market using the Avatar that you created.
You have appreciated that my marketing on Social Media needs to be focused on this particular niche, and you have also given me clear actionable steps to take, which I can implement quickly, and with a relatively low budget.
Well done for bringing your report and conclusions together in a short timescale, having done a lot of background research."
Feedback from Alan Edwards, Managing Director
The student team worked with Spark Community Space to develop a thorough marketing plan that would serve to increase the charity’s awareness in the local community.
The students used academic models to critically analyse Spark’s current business model and marketing strategy. The team carried out primary research (with over 100 survey responses) and secondary research to develop a clear understanding of the problem and generate viable solutions. The team researched the national and local charity sectors, Spark users, and potential new target audiences and funders.
As a result of the project, the charity launched a fundraising campaign “to get moving for 25 mins a day for 25 days in May” which integrated the use of the Strava and Spotify apps to increase donations.
“Working with the BCP student team brought me new ideas that I had not even considered. Hearing their perspectives really helped us to think about new ways of marketing. I asked them at the start to dream and think big - and they came up with a new campaign which we are now implementing”
Feedback from Becki Simmons, Trustee & Founder
DCR manufactures and sells alloy specialist cutting lathe technology, targeting the growing global market of vehicles fitted with alloy wheels. The student team’s project was to create solutions to improve the firm’s sustainability using the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Circular Economy concepts and propose enhancements to marketing.
The team adopted a Design Thinking approach characterised by the different stages of: empathise, define, conceive, prototype and test. As part of their research into the US market the team provided evidence that the client included in DCR’s pitch to venture capitalists and this directly contributed to DCR securing £500,000 in funding for expansion into the US market.
The team developed a number of practical recommendations including a revised mission statement, better web and social media marketing and ways to monitor customer experience.
“We have been very impressed with the level of detail that the students from our selected BCP team have been able to provide and the data they have been able to find. We have used the data in the reports gained by the students to fill in some gaps in our investor Pitch deck and as such we have had very positive feedback towards this. We see that working with the students from Portsmouth University BCP has enabled some great insights to our business and its future.”
Feedback from Tony Neville, Group Operations Manager
Key Dates for 2022/23
- Thursday 30 June 2022: Client applications close
- Friday 19 August: Clients' project notifications issued
- Tuesday 20 September 2022: Client briefing session & meet the tutors (online)
- Monday 26 September: Term starts
- Weds 19 October: Networking lunch
- Weds 16 November: Networking lunch
- W/c 5 December: Student team presentations to clients
- Weds 14 December: Celebration Lunch Event
- Friday 16 December: Term ends
Offer a Business Consultancy Project
If you’re interested in offering a project, please complete the online application form, where you will need to state the project’s intended aim and the business opportunity the project seeks to address.
If you want to find out more, please get in touch with us at the Small Business Team via firstname.lastname@example.org