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8 Main Trends to better implement Open Innovation

Today Open Innovation is part of an interconnected ecosystem where people, organizations, and sectors can nurture inspiration, idea-generation, collaboration, and validation of ongoing iterations all at the same time.

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    Lean Banking Can Transform Your Institution. Don’t ignore it.

    Let’s start with the great news – financial institutions that are leveraging Lean banking operations achieve up to 30% cost reduction within 2 years, and are maintaining cost-efficient operations better than the average in the industry.
    Lean processes are being adopted globally by organizations prone to inefficiency that are negatively affecting their earnings.

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    MOST RECENT

    Podcast | What are the main pitfalls when writing an RFP for Consulting?

    When you write an RFP, You want to make sure that you will get solid proposals from your short-listed providers so that you can choose the best fit for you. Do you hire the right team? What are the results you are expecting?
    On this week’s Smart consulting Sourcing podcast, Consulting Sourcing Expert Hélène Laffitte explains what are the main pitfalls when writing an RFP for Consulting.
    Key Takeaway: Many companies rush the RFP process, make it either too vague or too precise. In both cases, they are decreasing their chances to maximize the outcome of the project.

    How Vital to Your Projects is The Relationship With Consultants?

    How Vital to Your Projects is The Relationship With Consultants?

    Successful management of your relationship with Consultants has a tremendous effect on each of your projects. In this article, we would like to outline a few progressive approaches to assure you to get the results you aim for.
    Like for any other category, Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) is a Huge Topic for Consulting Services. The way Procurement manages Consulting Providers should fit in the overall SRM practices for the company.

    How Vital to Your Projects is The Relationship With Consultants?
    1. Correctly identify your Strategic Suppliers
    The principles for segmenting the entire supply base for Consulting Services should be the same for other categories as well. Often companies will choose the largest Consulting Firms as strategic suppliers because they capture most of their spend. But the spend should not be the only or the most important criterion.
    The criteria a strategic supplier should meet:

    Having a unique strategic skill
    Working on strategic projects
    Working on projects with a significant impact on the company.

    2. Always qualify your Suppliers
    Suppliers, even for Consulting Services, need to be qualified. The requirements for these suppliers are mainly based on former clients’ testimonies, case studies, and relevant thought leadership.
    Three points to consider here:

    The references must be relevant to the scope of your qualification. For instance, if you want to qualify John Doe Consulting for Innovation Management projects, they need to give you references for the Innovation Management capability, or at least the Innovation capability.
    Don’t forget that Consulting has a very high human component. The partners or project managers have a significant impact on a project, but that impact, mostly intrapersonal skills and expertise, are not transferable. Very often, the partner who is initiating the relationship will be the owner of the account and will be in charge of most projects. Ask for references of projects s/he led personally.
    When you are inviting a Consulting Firm on a new capability, don’t hesitate to ask for further relevant references. If references are with your competitors, do not hesitate to ask a third party to help you with the process

    READ ALSO
    “Compensation models vary, and using the right one can benefit both parties, Clients, and Consultants, also ensure everyone is happy and gives their best to the project. “

    3. Regularly measure your suppliers’ performance
    Very few Companies measure the Performance of their Consulting Suppliers. Mainly because Consulting is an intangible service, and they are not comfortable evaluating the content of a project.
    We will get back to how to implement a Performance Measurement System in detail, but here is a sneak peek.
    The system should be based on what makes a Consulting Project successful. Top of the mind, you will find the quality of delivery with the time/quality/cost aspects. The impact of the Consulting Team on the business, even though not measurable in numbers, can always be estimated with the satisfaction of the sponsor and the project leader on the results.
    Other elements contributing to the success of the project are the talent and expertise of the team and the soft aspects (ability to build trust or transfer knowledge, for instance).
    For a long-term project, you should consider measuring performance at a mid-project checkpoint. It will help you make sure the project is progressing according to plan and implement necessary corrective actions and changes.
    4. Effectively manage the relationship
    The familiarity between a Consulting Firm and its clients can facilitate and accelerate projects. When you regularly work with a Consultant, s/he is “plug-and-play”: s/he knows your business and your industry.
    Consider and implement regular meetings with your Suppliers to keep them in the loop and communicate the results of their Performance Assessments.
    Implementing Category Management for the Consulting Category can drive significant savings and increase the return of investment of your Consulting projects. For all categories, it implies a close cross-functional collaboration, which can be challenging in a large organization.
    The nature of Consulting Services demands an even more collaborative and flexible approach to category management, since the decision-making and the knowledge are in the hands of the sponsor and the project leader only.
    5. Learn to leverage Consultants’ insights
    After spending a long time working on your projects, consulting firms start to acquire a good degree of familiarity with your business. Obviously, they would love nothing more than having another project with you (unless you have been a painful client, but that is another story).
    Ask your consultants for feedback about your company and what they would do if they were in your shoes. You will be surprised by the power of this simple question. In doing so, you will usually get honest feedback about your operations compared to the state of the industry or the latest thought leadership. It’s a valuable insight you can apply as you best see fit.

    Author detailsAuthor Bio

    Hélène Laffitte

    Co-founder & CEO at Consulting Quest

    Hélène is the author of Smart Consulting Sourcing, a step by step guide to getting the best ROI from your Consuting. You can follow @helenelaffitte on Twitter.

    View Profile

    Mail Me

    Call Me

    Hélène Laffitte is the CEO of Consulting Quest, a Global Performance-Driven Consulting Platform and author of “Smart Consulting Sourcing”, a step by step guide to getting the best ROI from your consulting. With a blend of experience in Procurement and Consulting, Hélène is passionate about helping Companies create more value through Consulting.

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    Consulting sourcing tips

    Podcast | What are the main pitfalls when writing an RFP for Consulting?

    How to negotiate a consulting agreement?

    8 Main Trends to better implement Open Innovation

    Today Open Innovation is part of an interconnected ecosystem where people, organizations, and sectors can nurture inspiration, idea-generation, collaboration, and validation of ongoing iterations all at the same time.

    The 7-High Level Consulting Capabilities Categories That Every Client Should Know

    The Capabilities are the services offered by consultants. They usually mirror the business functions that client organizations need to perform. This dimension is crucial to describe the work in consulting.

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    Previous Weeks’ issues

    This Week In Consulting: What is the impact of Covid-19 on the Energy sector?

    This Week in Consulting – Curated News on the Consulting Industry published every Wednesday brought to you by Consulting Quest. This week, July 22nd ,2020, All you need to know about the impact of Covid-19 on the Energy sector
    read more

    This Week In Consulting: Is sustainability taking the back seat during the pandemic crisis?

    This Week in Consulting – Curated News on the Consulting Industry published every Wednesday brought to you by Consulting Quest. This week, July 15th ,2020, All you need to know about what’s next for Sustainable Business.
    read more

    This Week In Consulting: How Chinese Companies Have Responded to Coronavirus?

    This Week in Consulting – Curated News on the Consulting Industry published every Wednesday brought to you by Consulting Quest. This week, July 8th ,2020, All you need to know about How Chinese Companies Have Responded to Coronavirus
    read more

    Choose the best next step for you

    Buy the Book

    Talk to usWe are always open to a discussion. Just book a 30-min virtual coffee with us and let’s get the conversation started
    Book a call

    Podcast | How to negotiate a consulting agreement?

    Now you have a consulting proposal that you think answers to your needs:  you can start negotiating. What are the key steps in the negotiation? How should you prepare the negotiation? How do you get the best deal for your organization?
    On this week’s Smart consulting Sourcing podcast, Consulting Sourcing Expert Hélène Laffitte explains how to negotiate a consulting agreement.
    Key Takeaway: Negotiating a consulting agreement is about getting the best deal for both you and the consulting firms and building long-term relationships.

    Podcast | Why Consulting is a standalone category?

    Mastering the sourcing process is essential to create more value through consulting. But to unleash greater value, you need to start looking at consulting as a category. What are the benefits of category management? How does it apply to consulting?
    On this week’s Smart consulting Sourcing podcast, Consulting Sourcing Expert Hélène Laffitte explains why Consulting is a standalone category, based on the criteria developed in Jon O’Brien’s book “Category Management in Purchasing.”
    Key Takeaway: The first step to optimizing the Consulting Spend is to recognize Consulting as a strategic category. Indeed, the size of the spend (0.5% to 3% of revenues) added to the potentially significant impact on the business makes it a key enabler of the strategy.

    How Using the Right Compensation Models Can Benefit Your Project

    How Using the Right Compensation Models Can Benefit Your Project?

    Compensation models vary, and using the right one can benefit both parties, Clients, and Consultants, also ensure everyone is happy and gives their best to the project. 
    Every project is different, so choosing the best Compensation model can have a great impact on the ROI of the project. To maximize your benefits, take the time to evaluate and select the Compensation model you think is right for you and your organization.
    Now let’s dive into the most used Compensation models and see how you can make your dream project happen while properly compensating your Consultants

    How Using the Right Compensation Models Can Benefit Your Project?
    Here is how this works – If you want to optimize your consulting spend, you might be tempted to attack the cost base with traditional cost-cutting measures (reducing budgets, negotiating discounts, setting up multiple validations, etc.). Even though this can provide short-term results, we should not lose sight of the fact that using consultants is about value creation. As such, despite all the bad press about consultants and their fees, discussions should primarily be about impact and value.
    Now, let’s review the most used Compensation models:
    1. Deliverable-based fees or flat fee
    Most Consulting firms use the flat fee structure for their projects. The Consultant will evaluate the work to be done and staff a little team. The total fee will reflect the total cost of the team to provide the work.
    Pros:  The Consulting team will do the work even if the workload is higher than expected. The risk for the Client is limited. Incentives for the Consultants are through repeat business and resource optimization.
    Cons: The Client pays the amount agreed, even if the consulting team does the work faster than expected. The Consultant can be tempted to “supercharge” their resources to mitigate the risks. The Consultant can allocate resources to the proposal that will never work on the project to create a buffer.
    2. Time-based fees or daily rates
    This system is very common, in particular with small projects and independent consultants. It can also apply to interim management assignments. The Consultant will define a daily rate, and invoice the Client based on the number of days actually worked for the Client.
    Time-based fees will be perfect for projects where you mostly need extra arms and legs such as interim management, or spot team reinforcement.
    Pros: The Client will only pay for the work done and time spent.The fee structure is particularly transparent and adapted to projects with a finite duration.
    Cons: A low-performing consultant will charge more days. Besides, the incentives for the Consultants are to stay longer to charge more. And what happens if you are not available and the work cannot progress as planned? The Client has little control over the total cost of the project. The risk is mostly on the Client’s side. 

    “As a consultant at McKinsey, I learned the value of data and the ability to shape that information into an answer.” – Pete Buttigieg .

    READ ALSO
    “Demand management allows the teams to make the difference between the “must have” and the “nice to have.” You can keep your money for what is really important.”

    3. Retainer-based fees
    When a client needs continuous part-time support, s/he can opt for retainer-based fees. The Consultant and the Client agree on a number of days per week/month/quarter where the Consultant will be on “stand-by.” The retainer can be paid in a lump sum or on a monthly basis, independently of the work done by the Consultant.
    Pros:  The Consultant has to stay on top of the Client’s organization and priorities. The Client is sure to have access to the Consultant for the agreed period. This type of model works particularly well when deliverables are unclear and can change during the assignment.
    Cons: The consultants can have several projects at the same time. The “retainer” client is not always their #1 priority as that project is secured. Some consultants tend to consider retainers as paid commercial time.
    4. Value-based Pricing
    Value-based pricing is a pricing strategy where the prices are set not on time and materials, or cost + margin, but rather on the perceived value for the Client of the service delivered. For Consulting services, it could be a share of the savings realized in a cost-cutting project, for instance.
    Pros: The clients and the consultants share the same interests: the more value created, the more value for each party. The risk for the Client is very limited. The Client only has to commit to a small flat fee.
    Cons: The baseline and the conditions of success have to be defined very precisely, so the Client doesn’t end up paying more than the value really created. The model is more difficult to apply for intangible deliverables with no direct, measurable impact on P&L. Traditional consultancies are reluctant to use this fee structure that does not fit their pricing and risk management models (you cannot reserve a team of four consultants from the pool when the payment for only two can be secured).
    5. Value Sharing – a Win-win Proposition
    More and more consultancies are exploring ways to share the value with their clients. The movement started with Bain & Company when they moved from pure strategy work to more operational support.
    Value-sharing fees make sense when the stakes are high, and you expect the consultants to go above and beyond their normal delivery by aligning their interests with yours and giving them, beyond the sole repeat business, the perspective of a substantial upside in case of success. Classical cases will include cost-saving programs, pricing optimization, and a new business launch. To mitigate the risk, you will have to implement governance to make sure the activities (and how they are performed) remain in line with your overall strategy and culture. Indeed, the consultants will take a very active role in the execution of the project, but you remain at the bar. And what are the expectations beyond their normal job that would justify a special bonus?
    The catch, when using value-sharing, is to define clearing the starting point and the parameters involved in the measure.
    In conclusion, for each project, you can identify the fee structures that will yield more value for your company. It will depend on the type of project, the nature of the deliverables, the context of the project, the flexibility you have on fees, and the level of commitment you expect from the Consultant.

    Author detailsAuthor Bio

    Hélène Laffitte

    Co-founder & CEO at Consulting Quest

    Hélène is the author of Smart Consulting Sourcing, a step by step guide to getting the best ROI from your Consuting. You can follow @helenelaffitte on Twitter.

    View Profile

    Mail Me

    Call Me

    Hélène Laffitte is the CEO of Consulting Quest, a Global Performance-Driven Consulting Platform and author of “Smart Consulting Sourcing”, a step by step guide to getting the best ROI from your consulting. With a blend of experience in Procurement and Consulting, Hélène is passionate about helping Companies create more value through Consulting.

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    Consulting sourcing tips

    Podcast | What are the main pitfalls when writing an RFP for Consulting?

    How to negotiate a consulting agreement?

    8 Main Trends to better implement Open Innovation

    Today Open Innovation is part of an interconnected ecosystem where people, organizations, and sectors can nurture inspiration, idea-generation, collaboration, and validation of ongoing iterations all at the same time.

    Your browser does not support the video tag.

    Previous Weeks’ issues

    This Week In Consulting: What is the impact of Covid-19 on the Energy sector?

    This Week in Consulting – Curated News on the Consulting Industry published every Wednesday brought to you by Consulting Quest. This week, July 22nd ,2020, All you need to know about the impact of Covid-19 on the Energy sector
    read more

    This Week In Consulting: Is sustainability taking the back seat during the pandemic crisis?

    This Week in Consulting – Curated News on the Consulting Industry published every Wednesday brought to you by Consulting Quest. This week, July 15th ,2020, All you need to know about what’s next for Sustainable Business.
    read more

    Choose the best next step for you

    Buy the Book

    Talk to usWe are always open to a discussion. Just book a 30-min virtual coffee with us and let’s get the conversation started
    Book a call

    Podcast | How to select the right consulting provider for your project?

    After assessing the proposals and selecting the most promising, you have now a short-list of the most promising candidates. How do you narrow down to one winner?
    On this week’s Smart consulting Sourcing podcast, Consulting Sourcing Expert Hélène Laffitte explains how to select the right consulting provider for your project.
    Key Takeaway: The presentation (or pitch) phase is an excellent opportunity to challenge the proposals, assess the chemistry with your teams, and get the buy-in for the different stakeholders.

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    Connect with other Consulting Buyer to step up your game

    Connect with other Consulting Buyer to step up your game

    Among many professionals, the temptation to work alone, without the support of peers, is high. Innovative business people understand the need for connections with peers, with consultants, with journalists, and with the public at large. Great professionals need to build a network of peers, learn from experience of others, reach collective critical mass, get sparring partners, cherry pick best practices, and stay current on the latest trends.
    The situation of procurement professionals and particularly the one of those in charge of procuring consulting services falls into this category. Procuring consulting services is quite different from procuring goods. Consulting is a complex industry often described as a matrix of capabilities and industries. Just add a layer a hard and soft skills. A zest of fee structure. And you have got yourself in the shoes of many Consulting Procurement leaders. They need to connect with peers to be able to exchange about their daily challenges with people who can actually understand what they are facing.

    Source Consultants

    The easiest solution is to look into your pool of existing providers, and choose pick from them. However, the best consultant for one project is not necessary the best for the next one.

    Read More

    1. Build a Network of Peers
    Even though Companies can have a significant budget for Consulting Projects, most Consulting Procurement executives handle a limited number of project in relative isolation.  Many of them have been trained with core-business procurement, or indirect procurement. So, when facing consulting projects, they are very tempted to reinvent the wheel each time, or to just apply the sound principles that they have learned in their previous jobs. Just like this procurement leader, working in a railway company, who insisted in adding a 10-year guarantee clause in a consulting agreement, “because that is the company policy”.
    Rather than just seeking consulting procurement information through only books and online material, find ways to connect with peers in your industry. Trade shows, a community of practice, professional organizations, and firms who specialize in networking consultants with clients are all important tools to connect with peers.
    2. Learn from the experience of others
    Exchanges with peers from diverse backgrounds, culture and activities give professionals the ability to discover new perspectives on consulting procurement, and learn about cases that you haven’t face yet. Increasing your surface of exchange will increase your exposure to the variety of situations faced by your peers.

    And who knows. Someone in your network may have faced the same challenge…
    This increased surface area multiplies the opportunities for growing as procurement leader by learning from practical cases, sharing challenges and identifying best practices. You can learn from peers, academics, journalists, as well as consultants. This community of learning empowers you to not only increase learning, but facilitates the reach of critical mass.
    3. Reach Critical Mass Collectively
    Many rare skills, such as consulting procurement, are acquired and maintained on the field through facing again and again the same issues. As a business professional, your services are limited by your ability to access enough information to identify trends and best practices in your field. It is hard to reach that critical mass of information to allows you to master your skill.
    With more peers around the table, you accelerate the building process and guarantee that you are able to reach that critical mass collectively. Through your peers, you each gain momentum and reach the critical mass necessary to succeed faster.
    4. Get Yourself Sparring Partners
    Not only does collaboration increase learning about specific situations and projects, it helps you improve your internal processes at a faster rate as well. Two heads are better than one, and two sets of hands go faster. Although it feels risky for business leaders to open themselves up to even one peer, let alone a network of peers, the open source revolution in software and computing shows the power of collaboration in a field which was driven by secrets and control for many years.
    Sharing about Consulting Procurement does not mean you risk to lose your competitive advantage or breach confidentiality, because you can just decide what you share. Good networking merely takes others’ work and integrates it with your own business so that everyone is empowered to grow more. Networking defines relationships based upon the level of connectedness you have with your peers: the more connected you become, the more meaningful the interactions become.
    5. Cherry Pick best practices
    A key part of building a network of peers and increasing your collaborative processes is to be able to identify the best practices as a group. Before integrating in your own processes, think about how it would fit with your strategy, your organization and your existing policies and what impact it would have on other processes.
    Let’s say you have heard that Wenowatwedoo, a leader in your industry, is using independent consultants for their needs for marketing excellence. You immediately think you should do the same. But what you don’t know is that Wenowatwedoo has a dedicated team in charge of Marketing Excellence made of former consultants. So for that specific needs, they merely need arms and legs to complement their team, where your company would need the whole team of marketing excellence. Excellent best practice, but not for you.
    Cherry picking on what consulting other companies have used might be the most difficult exercise as it requires a fit with your context and strategy but there are many other process elements that can garner tremendous value without presenting the same challenge. But on managing confidentiality, scoping projects, sourcing, selecting consultants, negotiating fees, using creative fee structures or measuring consultants’ performance, there are many levers that can help you to professionalize your own practices.
    6. Stay current on the latest trends
    Your needs for consulting are changing every year to adapt to new strategic context, to new opportunities opened by new technologies, etc. You have to stay current on the latest trend and be connected with academics and thought leaders. This will give you the ability to spots threats and opportunities early on, and anticipate the impact on your field.
    Besides, keeping up-to-date with your industry is key for building expert power and earn the trust and respect of the other executives in your company.
    Connecting with peers is part of your development as a professional, it will help you in getting better at your job, become the go-to partner for the executives of your company, and provide you with sparring partners to call when you are facing a tough challenge. It will give you the keys to enable deliver quality procurement services for your business, to get more value of your consulting spend and to create more value for your company. On a personal level, you will have the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships with your peers.
    So now the question is … what are you waiting for?

    An African Consulting Market already significant and with huge Potential

    An African Consulting Market already significant and with huge Potential

    Welcome to the first issue of our New Blog Series – “Exploring the African Consulting Industry”. In this series, you will learn “everything-you-need-to-know” about the African Consulting market through a set of fun infographics.

    Know the Market
    In 2016, the Consulting Industry in Africa was valued at $2.2 billion. Although the market is relatively small in terms of size from a global perspective, it has grown strongly over the past years, with a 6.3% growth rate. The African consulting market is bigger in size than many of the European markets such as that of Spain and Italy.
    Consulting services can be found in over 30 markets in Africa. The Top 3 Locations with the greatest number of consulting firms are: 1) South Africa, 2) Nigeria and 3) Morocco.
    Among these regions, Southern Africa alone makes up around two thirds of the Africa’s entire consulting market. Africa continues to position itself as an attractive geography with a double-digit growth in West Africa, particularly in Nigeria, and East Africa, benefiting from the reduced attractiveness of the Asian countries.
    The African market as a whole is forecasted to continue its impressive growth, thanks to the rapidly growing economy and governmental push on innovation. Despite of being a market with a huge potential, there are risks for consulting business in the region including political stability and difficulty in getting paid.

    t

    Consulting Quest Global Directory
    Consulting Quest Global Directory is the World’s Largest Professionally-Managed Directory in the Consulting Industry. Searchable by consultancy name or by region, capability or industry, it lists and describes more than 6000 consultancies worldwide, with links to their websites and social media channels. With such a powerful database, we decided to dig deeper into the directory and analyzed the consulting offering in each of the following regions of the world: North America, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Asia-Pacifics and LATAM.

    This Week in Consulting: All you need to know about Design Thinking

    This Week in Consulting

    Wednesday, November 13th 2019

    All you need to know about Design Thinking

    THIS WEEK’S MUST READ
    “Design Thinking is not an exclusive property of designers—all great innovators in literature, art, music, science, engineering, and business have practiced it. So, why call it Design Thinking? What’s special about Design Thinking is that designers’ work processes can help us systematically extract, teach, learn and apply these human-centered techniques to solve problems in a creative and innovative way – in our designs, in our businesses, in our countries, in our lives.​”
    The ‘Design Thinking’ is a description of the application of the well-tried design process to new challenges and opportunities, used by people from both design and non-design backgrounds. How to use design and design thinking for innovation and better results?
    This Week’s Must Read  is an insight piece from Interaction Design Foundation (IDF) where the authors help us to understand Design Thinking by breaking down the process into five phases
    Read on to Find out More: “What is Design Thinking and Why Is It So Popular? “ | Rikke Dam and Teo Siang, Interaction Design Foundation.

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    THIS WEEK’S VIDEO:

    Design Thinking is a 5-step process to come up with meaningful ideas that solve real problems for a particular group of people​​.

    THOUGHT LEADERSHIP

    Why Design Thinking Works? “In a recent seven-year study in which I looked in depth at 50 projects from a range of sectors, including business, health care, and social services, I have seen that another social technology, design thinking, has the potential to do for innovation exactly what TQM did for manufacturing: unleash people’s full creative energies, win their commitment, and radically improve processes.” Here the author explains how human behaviors can get in the way of innovation and how design thinking tools and clear process steps can help teams break free of them. | Jeanne Liedtka, HBR
    Maximizing Digital Transformation Innovation -Design Thinking: “With the evolution of technological advances, organizations need to transform to address rapidly changing business landscapes, which is the main reason why digital transformation is so crucial for companies that enables to redefine the complex business process into simple and innovative solutions that helps business executives focus more on business results, innovation and continuous development.” This article shows how the design thinking approach could help launch a wave of innovation in technology and digital disruption. | SatishKumar Boguda and Shailaja Arsid, IJERT
    Design Thinking as a Strategy for Innovation: “Designing is more than creating products and services; it can be applied to systems, procedures, protocols, and customer experiences. Design is transforming the way leading companies create value.” The author presents an interesting point of view on how the success rate for innovation dramatically improves when design principles are applied to strategy and innovation. | Linda Naiman, Creativity at Work
    Why Design Thinking is Relevant? “In many ways, design thinking is about having a methodology that helps you feel comfortable wading into the messy complexity of creating something new to the world. The better you get at it, the more you’ll build creative confidence to take on bigger challenges.” Why is design thinking relevant to the challenges we’re facing today? An interesting interview with David Kelly, the founder of IDEO. | David Kelley, IDEO

    TRENDS
    On the same theme,here is a selection of conferences that you might find useful
     
    NEXT: the conference on innovation through design thinking : NEXT is the annual event dedicated to innovation through design thinking for all those who want to transform their company and who are looking for concrete and applicable solutions to successfully implement.
     
    Design Thinking Conference 2020 : For Design Thinking professionals who practice what they preach in their own organizations or with other organizations.

    CONSULTING INDUSTRY NEWS

    FinTech Company OKLink Wins Deloitte “Hong Kong Rising Star”: “LEAP Holdings Group Limited (“the Group”; Stock code: 1499) is pleased to announce that OKLink Fintech Limited (“OKLink”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Group, was awarded the “Hong Kong Rising Star” by Deloitte in 2019 HK Tech Fast 20 and Rising Star Program on 8 November 2019.” | Marie Jones, Business News Asia
    KPMG launches innovation scale-up with Axillium partnership: “As clients look to tap greater levels of government support for their research and development efforts, KPMG has forged a new partnership with research and innovation agency Axillium. The Midlands-based firm has supported nearly 200 organisations to move their innovation programmes forward and helped raise more than £210 million in government grant funding.” | Consultancy.uk
    HSBC and RBS set to launch new digital banking platforms: “HSBC rolled out a new app-based business banking service – previously known internally as ‘Project Iceberg’ and now named ‘HSBC Kinetic’ – in beta testing mode on Monday, while RBS is putting the finishing touches to its new digital bank Bo ahead of a public roll-out later this month.” |Iain Withers, Sinead Cruise, Reuters
    P&G Aims For Lasting Social Impact With NatGeo Series: “While brands have been an integral part of television since the dawn of the medium, typically as sponsors, P&G is aiming to take that relationship to the next level by helping to produce a new cable TV series.” | Diana Marszalek, The Holmes Report

    DIRECTORY
    The Consulting Quest Global Directory is the largest professionally-managed directory in the consulting industry. Searchable by consultancy , name or by region, capability or industry it lists and describes more than 6000 consultancies worldwide with links to their websites and social media channels.
     
     

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    CONSULTING SOURCING TIPS

    Everything You Like to Know About In-House Consulting and How to Optimize Your Internal Consultants’ Potential
    Your internal consulting, transformation team, or excellence group, is a great asset that can make every project a success. The ...Read More

    3 Best Ways to Measure Consulting Performance – In Short, Medium & Long-Term Formats
    Let's start with the question - How important is measuring the performance of Consulting Services' providers? For Consultants - as ...Read More

    The 13 Key Steps in Demand Management Implementation
    Demand management is a critical tool for procurement professionals and companies in general. Its implementation for the consulting category is ...Read More

    About Consulting Quest

    Consulting Quest is a global, performance-driven consulting platform founded in 2014 by former members of top 10 consulting firms with the objective of reinventing consultancy performance. With a worldwide presence and a range of proprietary performance measurement tools, we help companies navigate the consulting maze. We work with Consulting Clients to increase their performance through consulting and Consulting Providers to help them acquire new clients and to improve their performance.

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    Successfully Managing the Life of the Project While Developing a Great Relationship with Your Consulting Firm

    Successfully Managing the Life of the Project While Developing a Great Relationship with Your Consulting Firm

    “In many ways, effective communication begins with mutual respect, communication that inspires, and encourages others to do their best.” – Zig Ziglar

    Positive and mutually beneficial relationships with business partners, clients, and collaborators are an essential part of every project. And effective communication is a crucial ingredient in every relationship.
    So let’s talk about how having a great relationship with your Consulting provider can substantially benefit the project.
     
    Best Tips on Building a Great Relationship and Managing the Life of a Project
    We have mentioned previously the importance of collaboration with the consulting firms to maximize the chances of success of the project. When the consulting partners are considering your company a “good client,” they will do their best to deliver the best work, assign their best teams, and remit their best price

    Read also...
    How to prioritize Consulting projects? How to make sure to spend on the right projects? If you keep asking yourself these questions, we have some great tips.

    Learn more

    1. The main goal is to create a mutually beneficial relationship –
    At its core, consulting should be based on a mutually beneficial partnership. If you treat procurement as a linear process that ends the moment the contract ink dries, you will probably have trouble getting the best possible results out of that partnership. Try, instead, treating the relationship as dynamic and flexible throughout the project. You and your consultants will both benefit and improve their business practices as a result.
    The truth is that if you treat them fairly, there is a good chance that they act the same way. Expect them to deliver their work in time and quality. Treat them like partners that have a common objective. Give them feedback, good or bad, on their performance. Give them visibility on payments. Be thorough, but don’t dance on the head of a pin.

    2. Manage the life of the project-

    No matter how hard you try, establishing and maintaining a relationship with consultants in executing a project will not be a linear process. During a project, some changes will take place that you didn’t account for during the proposal or contract. Whatever happens during the project, make sure you trace the most important events.
    Keep track of the changes, such as:

    Scope changes

    You might have to add new tasks as a need becomes clearer or drop deliverables that turn out to be impossible or difficult to reach.

    Staffing changes

    Organizations are in constant flux, and both sides may have to account for a turnover that requires adjustment and additional training.

    Timeline changes

    Everything, before the project starts, is an estimate; you may have to adjust the pace as the actual duration of the project comes into view.

    Unforeseen events

    Budget changes, project merges, project freezes, or any other events may occur that affect the execution of the project.
    Change management is necessary to ensure that these changes do not derail the project. When the changes are significant and impact the scope and the deliverables, you should consider amending the contract. For other cases, the minutes of the Steering Committee where the decision was taken should suffice.
    Any interaction with the consultants, especially when the performance is not right, should be traced thoroughly. Make sure to keep the minutes of the meetings and share them with the consultants timely.
    3. Measuring Performance –
    For projects longer than three months, we recommend organizing a mid-project assessment. As early as possible, set yourself and your consultants a benchmark toward the middle of the project. It is the perfect time to review the current scope and deliverables and check if they are still in line with the objectives and the current business environment.
    Before the meeting, collect the feedback from the main stakeholders, and prepare a summary to share with your consulting providers. The input should cover the traditional project management performance dimensions, such as project completion, planning, etc., but also a more qualitative aspect such as behavioral dimensions, impact, or skills adequation.
    As you get into the details of any project, it’s easy to get carried away with minutia that ultimately won’t affect the overall success. A Mid-Project Assessment enables you and your team to ensure that these inevitable tangents don’t endanger the timeline and the success of the larger project.
    The Mid-Project Assessment should be a major event for everyone involved. Keep it separate from regular operational project reviews, which should happen in smaller circles and regularly. However, you can organize regular check-ins dedicated to the project reviews to anticipate the potential issues, and give the Consulting Firm the opportunity to fix the problem as soon as it appears.

    4. Risks to avoid – Don’t drop the ball towards the end-

    One of the most common mistakes when using consultants is to drop the ball towards the end of the project. Here is what happens and why it should be prevented: Reports get shelved. Information is being poorly transferred. People often oppose the project step-in to torpedo it one last time. Making sure the results will stick, requires specific attention, dedicated efforts, and it affects the overall success of the endeavor.
    As the project is completed, make sure all deliverables and services are received and don’t make the final payment before verification. As a good practice, the last step in the reception and acceptance of the project is to perform an end-of-project assessment.

    Ready to get started on your next project?
    Need a fresh point of view? We will be happy to help.
    Please give us a call today at no obligation. Let’s get the conversation started
    Book your call

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    Consulting Playbook: A Smarter Growth Approach in Reducing SG&A Costs

    Consulting Playbook: A Smarter Growth Approach in Reducing SG&A Costs

    The Consulting Playbook, Edition #12
    A leader in the Commodities Market, despite experiencing double digit growth needed an expert’s advice as their SG&A expenses grew at a proportionate rate as well. This fact was alarming as their major competitors successfully reduced their SG&A expenses.
    The organization decided to engage a consulting firm to help analyze the reasons for the SG&A increase, and make the shift in breaking the cycle, improve SG&A efficiency and control, by finding the main drivers behind the higher SG&A costs.
    Top Down and Bottom Up Approach Successfully Applied
    The Strategic Approach of the Consultant centered on establishing a competition benchmark, setting up a clear cost baseline and proposing sizing down levers. The top-down method was combined with bottom-up approach to fully identify internal gaps, set new goals, and explore new savings opportunities. Also, business performance specific levers were identified, with the ultimate goal to reduce costs, and a new plan was designed for implementation with a full sizing model.
    The levers analyzed consisted in a combination of the following: adjusting service levels and implementing demand management, centralizing indirect purchasing, reviewing the make or buy for SG&A scope, consolidating for scale and implementing shared service centers, offshoring some activities, renegotiating contracts, optimizing the organizational structure, rationalizing the footprint as well as some working capital measures.
    The major impact on the organization produced the following results:
    The organization significantly improved its understanding of SG&A cost evolutions and put in place the necessary actions to progressively reduce the costs escalation, place costs under control and ultimately achieve a cost of reduction of approximately 20% on run rate vs their strategic plan. In addition, the findings pointed out a bigger issue – a clear sign of growth crisis.
    Part of the SG&A costs savings were allocated to growth initiatives resulting in an EBITDA growth at twice the market rate.

    Additional Information

    How Management Mistakes Can Hurt SG&A Costs Savings?
    All businesses are concerned with strategy and the best approach to reducing SG&A costs while boosting profitability. We would like to take a brief look at the mistakes many businesses make, and common things they overlook.
    There are several factors that can influence costs, such as political events, economic uncertainty, company’s financial situation, and many more. Management should be looking at short-term and long-term measures to achieve desired results.
    Mistake #1 – Unjustified Large Cuts or Increases in Costs
    This approach is a bit tricky and often overlooked. In a period of recession for example, companies will cut cost to preserve profit margin, however in recovery they will not make the necessary adjustments to boost growth. It’s important for executives to be very selective which expenses to cut without hurting sales volumes. Being strategic about across-the-board cost cuts, and identifying costs that don’t promote growth, must be a top priority.
    Mistake #2 – Broad Cost Cut Mandate
    Applying a broad cost mandate can lead to disappointing results. What often happens is that if all costs are treated equal without differentiating their effect on growth, costs like procurement can be affected. The smarter approach would be to manage SF&A specifically in relation to their importance to top-line and bottom-line. Flexibility and better understanding of types of costs, will be very beneficial.
    Mistake #3 – Benchmarking Approach
    The Benchmarking approach has its benefits; however, it also has some minuses too. While it provides a solid basis to align by, it doesn’t determine accurately enough which costs to regulate for a long-term growth. Also, when benchmarking compare performance by company size and industry, it misses to identify the difference in strategy and the specific factors that affect growth and cost structure.
    For Further Reading –
    – Globalization and New Strategies for Growth
    – Three Strategies for Achieving and Sustaining Growth
    – How do you create new growth strategies?
    – Five ways CFOs can make cost cuts stick
    – The Importance of Sustainable SG&A Cost Cutting

    t

    About The Consulting Playbook
    The Consulting Playbook is a collection of posts designed to offer insights into how businesses and their executives can utilize consulting as a strategic lever to boost performance. Each Consulting Playbook post is broken down into a few elements: Case Study, Additional Information regarding the technical application, and Additional Links related to the topic.

    How to Best Define Your Procurement Strategy: Pillars & Pitfalls

    How to Best Define Your Procurement Strategy: Pillars & Pitfalls

    We should probably start with a definition of Procurement Strategy –
    A successful Procurement Strategy for the Consulting Category requires a good understanding of the overall Strategy, the Consulting Market and the past performance within the category. It has to be in line with the Procurement Guidelines, and custom-made to Consulting.
    We have reviewed below the ‘pillars’ that can produce effective outcomes, and pitfalls to try to avoid.
    Feel free to apply what suits best your specific vision and policy

    Optimize your Consulting Spend

    The journey toward maturity of Consulting Procurement Capability is infused with challenges. It’s all part of the process. However, there is always a better way to face the challenges ahead.
    Read More

    our Consulting Strategy

    Halfway between Strategic planning and Demand Management, one of the overlooked levers is to define a Consulting Strategy.
    This Consulting Strategy aims at identifying the key projects or project areas where using consultants will accelerate your strategic objectives and create the biggest impact. Once defined and planned over a period of 12 to 24 months the consulting strategy will help in guiding the teams towards the key actions supporting your strategy, and alternatively will indicate areas where a lower effort should be engaged.
    Pitfall – failing to provide a proper time frame, delegating extra effort or human resources to projects that are smaller, or not enough resources, can backfire.

    Choosing Between Make-or-Buy Strategy

    Defining a Make-or-Buy Strategy is another key step in establishing the Procurement Strategy for the Consulting Category.
    The Make-or-Buy Strategy is very closely linked to Demand Management, and both matters should be (re)evaluated altogether.
    The goal here is to come to an improved, more effective decision-making process, often including a decision framework and a decision matrix.

    This framework allows deciding what projects should be prioritized and what is the best execution model for each project.
    As an example, think of a major transformation exercise for an insurance company across all sites in Asia to implement new development methodologies inspired by the lean startup and the scrum principles.
    The consulting firm could provide all resources for the project, or you could decide to implement a hybrid team mixing external consultants and your own in-house scrum masters.
    Pitfall – Missing out on fees’ reduction due to the inadequate decision process, weak buy-in from the teams, and uneven knowledge transfer from external firms.

    Your Preferred Supplier List & Master Service Agreements

    One of the Strategies that can be extremely efficient in Consulting, like in other categories, is to build a Preferred Supplier List.
    It is based on the fact that 80% of your needs are usually covered by 20% of your Suppliers. You can anticipate what Suppliers will be engaged, when and how, by looking at both your past Expenses and the strategy for the years to come.
    With these “Preferred” Suppliers, you can start negotiating Frame contracts, or Master Service Agreements, including pre-agreed terms and conditions and volume discounts.
    Pitfall – not having clear expectations, or deficiency in the list of Preferred Suppliers can affect the projects’ success in various ways.

    When and How to Do a 2nd and 3rd Tier Consulting Firms Integration

    It can be quite beneficial to leverage 2nd, and 3rd Tier Consulting Firms (small to mid-sized) to decrease the average costs and cover the niche and/or very operational needs from your business lines, and help you get control of the Tail Spend while optimizing the ROI.
    Pitfall – Do not miss out on identifying specialized niche providers who can deliver excellent performance at lower rates, that other general providers won’t.

    Your Consulting Procurement Process

     “If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you are doing.” – W.Edwards Deming

    To set the process on the right track, you can start with RFPs. They are an amazing tool for buying Consulting Services. You should always write an RFP, even a simplified one. Why? Because it sets expectations like the scope and the deliverables.
    In that specific case, writing an efficient RFP will maximize not only the performance of the procurement but also the chances of success of the project.
    You might also want to segment the projects based on the size, the strategic importance, the potential impact and/or the complexity to define what will be the process: RFI or not, simplified RFP or not, competition or not, procurement support or not.
    Pitfall – Make sure you leave room in your RFP to the Consulting Firm to bring innovative ideas and approaches. Lack of clarity in your expectations and the criteria of evaluation in the RFP, might not produce the best proposals.
    And as a final piece of advice, once you have identified your preferred Consulting Firm, do not forget to formalize the agreed expected deliverables, terms and conditions in a separate Statement of Work (SoW)

    How does your Procurement Strategy look like?
    Do you want to learn about how to get started or just want to discuss further Procurement Strategy.
    Do not hesitate to contact us today.
    We’d love to hear from you!
     
    Book your call

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    Getting the Best of Both External and Internal Consulting-Is Like Getting a Special Night at the Louvre

    Getting the Best of Both External and Internal Consulting-Is Like Getting a Special Night at the Louvre

    Airbnb and the Louvre are teaming up for a special campaign that offers an unforgettable night with exclusive visits at the museum, to one lucky winner who likes to travel and is passionate about art. It definitely sounds like a fresh and exciting idea! The same idea of combining the best of two different worlds pretty much applies to Internal and External Consulting.
    Every business leader should be able to select and work with the best consultants for each project, regardless of whether they come from an Internal Consulting group, or an External Consulting firm.
    And every business situation at hand, in some cases will be better served by the Internal group, and in other cases, the External Consultants will provide the expertise the Organization lacks.
    We can safely say that both types of Consulting have advantages and disadvantages, and it all comes down to making the best selection when evaluating which experts are the best fit for your project.

    Read also...
    Markets and conditions constantly change, but a progressive system of evaluation of Consulting projects, established within your organization, can produce desired results on a regular basis.

    Learn more

    6 Points to Consider When Working with Internal Consultants–

    Identify your Consulting needs in the next 3 to 5 years and consider developing an efficient Internal Consulting Group to serve these needs.

    Establish a clear value proposition for your Internal Consulting Group in order for them to deliver sustainable results. Even though you want the group to remain flexible, their core expertise and focus have to be very clear. The group should describe the topics where their knowledge will have the most significant impact but also the subjects they will not touch under any circumstances.

    The group has to demonstrate its value to the rest of the organization. The group has to win projects thanks to a superior impact on the organization.

    When projects have failed, many companies appear to have tried to force using the internal Consulting Groups. The exact opposite effect happens then, and the Internal Groups is singled out as the root cause for project failure.

    Funding of the Internal Consulting Group – even though the team could be set up through an injection of corporate funds, they need to be able to fund itself by charging the internal clients. If the internal clients don’t see the value in it, the group will be short-lived.

    Select the best fit based on your context and objectives -Like any other consulting firm, an internal consulting group has its own Consulting DNA, which takes its roots in the creation of the group and the profiles of the managers. Unless you have an extended internal consulting group, the skills and experience of your consultants will probably be focused on a few capabilities: this is where you want to use them. If you are dealing with a project that will span over a long period or requires to connect strongly with the teams, blend in to create buy-in, or potentially manage sensitive issues, the Internal Consulting team will be your preferred option

    6 Points to Consider When Working with External Consultants –

    External strategy consultants can bring in important advantages, many of them corresponding with the perceived weaknesses of internal strategists. Their specialist knowledge and experience can fill in the gaps the business has internally.

    External consultants can deliver excellent results, and make a real impact on the business. However, Clients need to be crystal clear in project definitions and tasks. If they leave room for interpretation, there can be misunderstandings and unsatisfactory results.

    They can ease the acceptance of stricter and harder decisions. When consultants are used to helping implement painful decisions such as cost-cutting or making sure that teams are delivering synergies at an accelerated pace, good relationships are challenging to sustain. For Internal consultants to manage a situation like that can be tricky. However, to External consultants, who are transiting once the project is complete, is easier to do that, and there are no long-lasting consequences. In that case, working with External consultants can be a better solution.

    They are more objective. They won’t have to deal with internal politics and personal or sensitive issues. We can assume they will be more unbiased too.

    Based on years of experience, they can contribute and apply successful insights and practices from other similar projects.

    Your make-or-buy decision process can cover both options and you can integrate your Internal Consulting Group in the competition for projects where their skills and experience could be an advantage. Also using a Hybrid team of External and Internal Consultants, can be a viable option for getting the experts’ support you need, ensure knowledge transfer, and reduce your costs at the same time.

    How to Decide Which is Best?
    It’s important to always measure the performance of your projects.
    When you are running projects through your internal Consulting Group, it is essential to measure the impact of the projects and the satisfaction of the internal clients. Having feedback on their work is a fantastic tool to build improvement and development plans. Your internal consulting group will be able to grow their skills on the right dimensions and serve better their internal clients. It is also a compelling way to convince internal clients to use their services while comparing with similar external service providers.
    When deciding on your next project it is worth evaluating all the elements, and pick the team of Consultants that is best suited for the project, one who is prepared to deliver the best results.

    If you are planning to launch a new Consulting project,
    let us help you with finding the best Consultant.
    Feel free to contact us today, to learn more about Consulting Quest and allow us to learn about your organization, needs and goals.
    Book your call

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    Budget vs. Value – How to Get the Best of Both Using a 3-Step Proposal Assessment Method

    Budget vs. Value – How to Get the Best of Both Using a 3-Step Proposal Assessment Method

    “There can be no value in the whole unless there is value in the parts.” – Bertrand Russell

    The famous British philosopher, social critic, mathematician, and Noble laureate, offered us a great piece of insight. As we discussed in many of our previous articles, the process of launching and successfully managing a Consulting project has several components that should be dealt with the necessary focus and dedication.
    Now let’s talk about the criteria in selecting the best proposal and what you as a Client need to look for. But before we get to the proposals’ ranking, we need to establish some of the main considerations before the process.
    Budget versus Value –  Does the budget fit with the value you expect?
    This aspect is a major point that defines the purpose of the entire project. What value do you expect from the project? When viewing the project is always a good practice to step back and think about what value the project will bring and what kind of ROI you will be looking at. Will it be a technical added value that will directly impact your bottom line or a political added value that will enable other projects?

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    The future of consulting seems full of new and exciting changes. Disruption is the term that describes most of them. Let’s have a closer look at what these changes are exactly.

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    Benefits versus Risks – What are the value boundaries of the project?
    What is the value of a successful project? Are we talking about significant benefits to your bottom line, and what will be the investment required? What are the risks if it doesn’t work? Could your company stand to take a major hit? These are serious considerations that, unfortunately, cannot be entirely predicted but estimated at best.
    Budget versus Price – What budget do you have in mind for the project?
    If you have done similar projects before, you already have a basis for defining the estimated budget for this project. However, be aware that the complexity, the depth of expertise, the expected duration, and the location of the project can have a significant impact on the price. Also, you might be working with a budget envelope not to be exceeded. Do you have a clear idea of how much you will be paying at the end? Is the budget construct easy to understand? Are there some potential hidden costs?
     

    Proposal Price against Budget – How does the proposal price align with your budget?
    The most exciting proposal that is 50% over budget is probably not the right proposal for you. Likewise, a shallow proposal within your budget is not always the best option. A well-organized proposal should provide answers to most of your questions.
    Here is an outline of a reliable assessment method you can use to evaluate the quality of each proposal.
    3-Point Assessment Method for Proposal Evaluation –
     
    1- Identify the most promising proposals –
    You can skip this step for small projects where you invite a short-list of consulting providers to bid. However, if you are working on a larger project or a longer list of potential providers, you’ll benefit from focusing on the most promising proposals first. You will always have the possibility to go down your list if necessary.
    2- Rank the proposals –
    Regardless of how many companies you are in talks with, you should start to form a first “podium” of the best proposals. It is sometimes difficult to get the whole picture on a potential project before you get to talk to the consulting providers. Nevertheless, you can already identify the strengths and weaknesses of the written proposals.
    Rank the proposals on a limited number of criteria to simplify the process. The proposal assessment can be an excellent basis for the ranking. When you go through the different bids, you will quickly realize that some consultants have perfectly answered the different questions, while others have left some issues unanswered. At the end of the assessment, you will be able to rate the various proposals on a set of dimensions. You can, for instance, organize your questions in 6 major themes: objectives, deliverables, approach, experience, fit, and budget.
    You can adopt a simple grading system such as a 5-star, to make it easier to grade and read. The goal is to have an overview of the quality of the proposals and start organizing the meetings with the consultants in the order of relevance.
    3- Articulate the key elements you want to clarify –
    If you have identified the weaknesses of the different proposals, write them down, and think about what questions could help you clarify these further. Got cost concerns? Ask for clarifications on the cost structure or for trade-offs to fit in your budget. This list of questions will be the basis for your meetings with the consultants. You will be able to clarify their proposals and make sure you get an accurate picture of their ability to support you in achieving your goals. We recommend sending these questions before the meeting, so the Consulting firms can prepare and come up with the answers you need.
    Between the written proposal and the meeting, you should be able to answer the following questions:

    Has the consultant understood our objectives?
    Do the deliverables answer our questions?
    Do we trust the approach the consulting provider proposes?
    Does the team have the required experience?
    Is this consultant the right fit for you?
    Does the budget fit the value we expect?

    We hope this framework will help you to pick the best proposal and the right Consulting firm.

    If you are planning to launch a new project,
    Please check out our website to see how our various sources can benefit your organization.
    We can offer you also a fresh point of view to make your next project a success
    Book your call

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