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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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How to Successfully Manage a Consulting Project in 6 Essential Steps

“I get just as excited about building a birdhouse as when providing a strategic counsel to a client.” – Robert L.Peters

Since the dawn of the Industrial revolution, Consultants have helped in creating some of the most ambitious and innovative projects around the world. Have you heard of the Marmaray Tunnel in Turkey? An underwater railway tunnel that connects the European and the Asian parts of Istanbul? The project costs $4.5B and took 9 years to complete. What about the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, in China? This impressive 16-mile bridge and tunnel structure, includes two small artificial islands too, in order to provide support to the construction.
Regardless of how big your Consulting project is, it’s necessary to use the best methods and approach in managing it.

How to Successfully Manage a Consulting Project in 6 Essential Steps:

When you are buying services, and in particular intangible services like consulting, the bulk of the work comes after the procurement process has ended. You have to monitor and manage the outcomes of the project, but also the project itself. Indeed, consulting projects very rarely play out as planned

Know the Consulting Industy

Africa as a continent rich in resources, cultural diversity, and with its young population, has all the potential to grow economically at a satisfactory rate, provided it has progressive leadership and more political stability.
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1. Get organized to manage your project
Managing a consulting project is first and foremost managing a project. The same principles apply. To maximize the chances of success of your project, you will need to manage these three elements:

Stakeholders – This is project management 101. Align the stakeholders to make sure they will support the project and collaborate with the project team and the consultants.
Project – You need to put in place the best practices for project management: define the work plan, clarify the roles and responsibilities, and put in place a clear governance.
Change – Always obvious, but more often overlooked, change management is a key success factor for consulting projects. Anticipate the resistance to change in the teams impacted by the project and define strategies to address each situation.

2. Monitor the performance
Don’t wait until the end of the project to evaluate the performance and share your results with the consultants. The reasons for low performance can be multiple and simultaneous. It could come from the Consulting Firm (capabilities, skills, experience, staffing, etc.) or your teams (low priority, staffing, etc).
In any case, it is best to sit down with the Consulting Firm to discuss and understand the issue and find solutions together.

3. Manage the Consulting contract
When you are working with external consultants, you also have to manage the relationship. First, you will have to track the changes in the project that can touch scope, staffing, timeline or unforeseen events. When these changes are substantial, you should consider amending the contract. In any case, keep a trace of the changes in the minutes of the Steering Committees.
For very large projects, you should consider organizing a formal mid-project review. You can cover both the changes to the statement of work and the quality of the outcome. It should not prevent you from checking-in regularly with the Consulting Firm to anticipate potential slips in the project scope and timeline, and allow your provider to fix the problem.
Consider the consulting firm as your partner with a common objective: the success of your project. Be unbending on the quality of the outcomes. Give them feedback on their performance and visibility on payments.
4. Wrapping up – Anticipate and prepare for when the Consultant departs
Maybe you have prepared the transition from the start (in other words, in your RFP), and included the transition plan and regular check-ins in the deliverables. If that’s not the case, make sure to prepare for when the consultant leaves.
Once you have decided what recommendations you will act on, you have to organize for how you will act. You should also consider the transfer of knowledge in particular if the project implemented a new organization or technology. And you should define this plan with the consultant at hand.
Prepare the performance assessment for the Consulting Firm by gathering the information collected along with the project.
5. Don’t hesitate to end the contract earlier
Sometimes Consulting Projects have to be closed earlier than expected. Many changes can happen between the moment you decide to work with consultants and the end of the consulting projects.
The context can change or the management team. If that’s the case, continuing the project as it is might just be a loss of energy and money. Always find ways to adapt the scope to your needs. And terminate the contract if you must, and if the consequences will be acceptable.
6. Close the project neatly
Whatever the reason for terminating the project early, don’t rush into it. Take the time to analyze the impact of the termination and the probability of success of another consulting project. Prepare also what to communicate with your teams involved in the project.
At that point, you should have paid the consulting provider based on the delivery, and accrued the budget until the end of the project.
Keep the last invoices on your desk until you are sure that the project is delivered in full. That will give you enough leverage to get back to finish the project.
When you think the project is closed, and the invoices are approved for payment, you can take the time to debrief the consultants on their performance on the project.

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How Africa is Transforming Itself, the Top 5 African Economies to Watch in 2019 and the consequences for Consulting in Africa

“He who thinks he is leading and has no one following him is only taking a walk.” – Malawian proverb

Africa as a continent rich in resources, cultural diversity, and with its young population, has all the potential to grow economically at a satisfactory rate, provided it has progressive leadership and more political stability.
Management Consulting in that sense, can play an important role in providing needed expertise to companies and organizations in the region, hungry to grow and develop further.
Economically the region is growing at a good rate, and it also represents an interesting Consulting market; however it is a challenging market too, and its growth varied significantly in the recent years.
Let’s briefly discuss the main economies of Africa today –
 

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Whether you are a fan of the Gig economy or not so much, these trends are here to stay. There are a number of reasons to embrace the Gig economy mainly for the freedom and flexibility it brings to both Clients and Contractors, but there are also downsides to it, such as ethics or regulation issues.
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Modest Economic Growth Projected at 3% –

Africa is expected to grow around 3% pulled by the strong performance of the region’s largest economies, Nigeria and South Africa, and higher growth of Sub-Saharan Countries. Growth in the region will heavily rely on natural resources both in oil & gas and mining. Countries lacking natural resources will fuel their growth engine with agriculture and government-sponsored infrastructure investments.

Unstable and Moderate Consulting Market –

Africa is considered complex geography for Consulting given the volatility of commodities, political instability and still a strong dependency on foreign investments. Consulting remains essentially delivered by Western Consultancies. Even though they learn to adapt to local needs, they keep focusing on large clients and governments. The African market will have to develop further its local consultancies to support its private sector ecosystem.
The market is concentrated in a few countries and a small number of clients. It is also estimated at $10 billion –
Heavily tilted towards larger countries such as Nigeria and South Africa, the market posted a growth slightly north of those Economies GDP at 5%.
Demand for Consulting in Nigeria comes primarily from financial services. New regulations in the mobile and telecommunication sectors are also driving demand to support the efforts.
In South Africa, key industries are financial services, retail, and consumer goods.
Ethiopia leads growth and demand in Eastern Africa with projects to build infrastructure and industrialize the country.
 

In North Africa, Morocco is positioning itself as a hub for European business. The country is creating designated economic areas north of Casablanca, and attracting quite a volume of consulting projects in the process.
The SMART Africa initiative validated by all head of states and governments of all the 53 countries represented at the Assembly of the African Union is expected to contribute to economic growth and job creation in Africa through ICT’s. As a direct consequence, Digital projects are flourishing all across the continent.
3. Economic Growth Drivers –
According to McKinsey Global Institutes, African economies should benefit from new technologies, avoiding the liability of existing infrastructures.
Mobile technologies, Cellular, Internet of Things, and also Digital marketplaces will flourish with an expected growth of 25% in the next years.
4. Key Industries –
Moving forward, several sectors need to develop fast to support regional growth.

Financial services – Most countries continue to carry on reform and adapt their tax and customs. They also work to provide easier access to banking and capital markets.
Energy – Access to energy and utilities, particularly electricity, is needed to spur business growth.
Education – The region needs to prepare the workforce with the right skills by providing access to education to a larger part of the population. 

5. Africa’s Top 5 Fastest Growing Economies in 2018 –
And here is a List of the 5 fastest growing economies in Africa in 2018.

Ethiopia (8.5%) – 107 million population.

The economic champion of Africa 2018 is Ethiopia. It’s no secret that Ethiopia’s economy is booming and its growth has been steady at eight to eleven percent for over ten years now.
One of the key aspects that propel Ethiopia’s economy is its booming industry. The impressive GDP growth is due to sectors such as manufacturing, construction, and electricity.
And with an expected even further improvement in the agricultural and industrial growth, the projected GDP growth in the first quarter of 2019 is the whopping 10.65%.
They are also leading active economic reforms to attract foreign investments. Ethiopia and the Western Sub Saharan Countries should be the fastest growing economies, with an above 7% growth according to IMF. Ethiopia pursues its strategy of infrastructure development and industrialization targeting exports. Senegal, Ghana, and Cote d’Ivoire rely on a combination of agriculture and energy.

Ivory Coast (7.4%) – 25million population

When it comes to GDP figures, this country is undoubtedly one of the most stable countries in Africa, with its 5.17% average growth rate that covers a huge period of about for to five decades. With a strong Energy sector, Cote d’Ivoire has maintained a solid and predictable GDP growth that places it among the top performing countries, not only on the continent but in the world. Do you know that Ivory Coast is one of the biggest exporters of raw cashew nuts, coffee, palm oil, and cocoa?

Tanzania (6.4%) – 55 million population

Another African country with strong economic growth, Tanzania is located in the eastern part of the African continent. An interesting fact about the country is one of the youngest populations in the world, with 28 million people or roughly 45% of the population, under 25. Tanzania’s growth is around six to seven percent which is due to Industries such as Mining, Communications, Construction, and trade.

Ghana (6.3%) – 29 million population

Due to its oil and gas production, this West African country’s economy grew at a rate of 8.5% in 2017, but it has slowed down since. Ghana’s positive economic outlook can be attributed to its natural resources and mostly to its booming oil production.

Niger (5.1%) – 20 million population

The African Development Bank projects steady economic growth for Niger, at a 5.2% in 2019. That’s mainly due to the oil and agricultural sectors, as a direct result of the expected decent amounts of rainfall. But the country has to deal with issues in foreign investments, lack of proper security and insufficient infrastructure

Are you planning to launch a new Consulting project in Africa? Interested in getting an expert opinion on managing your project? Please feel free to contact us, to see how we can help you.

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This Week in Consulting: Measuring the Store of the Future

This Week in Consulting

Wednesday, July 31th , 2019

Measuring the Store of the Future

THIS WEEK’S MUST READ
“In a world where consumption is increasingly moving online, how should the performance of physical retail stores be measured?  What metrics make sense in a retail landscape that is seeing double-digit, compounded growth in ecommerce, while brick and mortar stores struggle to eke out single-digit lifts?.“
How many consumers per year visited the various branded physical store locations?  How much it might cost to engage an advertising agency to target consumers per year with a prolonged immersive media experience?
This Week’s Must Read is an insight piece from Retail Prophet in which the author shares some tips on how to use the brand value brought by stores.
Read on to Find out More: “Measuring the Store of the Future“, Doug Stephens, Retail Prophet.

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THIS WEEK’S VIDEO:

This week video is a podcast from Kaitlin Milliken about the future of fulfillment, and how established retailers are reaching out to younger customers and more…

THOUGHT LEADERSHIP

The State of Digital Transformation in Retail: “2018 has been one of the toughest years in retail for many businesses so it’s not surprising that new research, carried out in partnership with InternetRetailing, reveals that two thirds of the UK Top500 retailers see digital transformation as crucial to their business, while a further quarter rank it as important.” Digital Transformation is already in everyone’s agenda in the Retail Industry. The article goes over the main challenges to implement digital in Retail and gives some pointers to align marketing and technology to better serve today’s customer. | Greenlight Commerce
The Future of Retail: Winning Models for a New Era– “The rules of retail have fundamentally changed. Success in the industry often used to hinge on being bigger than your immediate competitors. Skillful operators that were No. 1 or 2 locally tended to enjoy higher profit margins.” With rising consumer demands and digital advances, retailers must constantly innovate. The article presents several business models for success in Retail. | Marc-André Kamel, Suzanne Tager, Jonathon Ringer, Aaron Cheris and Charles Ormiston, Bain & Company
The “New Retail” Revolution: Next Steps for Retail in China– “China’s Internet giants are spurring profound changes in the retail ecosystem. But as the “New Retail” revolution enters its third year, how close are these companies to becoming the “platform utilities” of retailing?” In China, growth has slowed across several previously burgeoning sectors since several years. Successful new retail transformation will depend, among other things, on the potential partnership with existing local retailers. The article presents the landscape of Retail in China and gives some tips on how to stay competitive in this new environment.   | Sherri He and Tina Si, A.T.Kearney
2019 Retail Industry Outlook: “2019 is likely to bring increased disruption, competition, and economic uncertainty. The industry should view the upcoming year as a time of transition for moving to the right side of the tipping point. Retailers should make a series of investments, knowing that the industry is in a precarious place.” After global trade and economic tensions of 2018, 2019 should be a year of transition for retailers, who may need bold moves if they want to set themselves up for success in the future. The article and associated report present Deloitte’s vision for 2019 for Retail. They propose in particular an interesting approach of the startup and VC economy for the industry.  | Rod Sides and Bryan Furman, Deloitte
Digital Transformation in Retail: How Starbucks, IKEA, Walmart, and Sephora Revolutionize Industry- “With a huge number of innovative startups disrupting every industry, established organizations faced a choice: adapt to the changing market conditions or to be left behind, stuck in legacy software and outdated business strategies. However, adjusting your business processes to emerging requirements is not an easy task, especially for global enterprise-level organizations.” In the wake of a technological revolution and the staggering growth in eCommerce, the articles walk us through how some retail brands have already reimagined their operations to keep up with the challenges of digital Transformation. | Altexsoft

TRENDS

On the same theme,here is a selection of conferences that you might find useful
 
Paris Retail Week : 5 key sectors to enable retailers to find all their solutions to optimize their logistics, boost their marketing strategy or discover the latest innovations for the point of sale.
 
eCommerce Expo Londres : eCommerce Expo LondonE-Commerce Expo London is the largest gathering of e-commerce professionals in Europe.

CONSULTING INDUSTRY NEWS

Philips announces GoBright compatibility: Philips Professional Display Solutions has announced a partnership with international meeting room management platform provider GoBright BV. The GoBright app, which can now be downloaded via the Philips app store is designed to support new ways of working for employees.  | Guy Campos
Grant Thornton and Ephesoft form alliance: Grant Thornton now offers Ephesoft Smart Capture® solutions to clients so they can manage unstructured data. This helps companies improve multiple back-end processes, such as invoicing, accounts payable and contract management. | MarketScreener
PwC study finds record CEO turnover, dismissals owing to misconduct rising– The turnover rate of CEOs hit a record 17.5% in 2018, but a group of executives are holding steady, says consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).  | Engineering news
30% of European businesses still not GDPR compliant: A year on from the launch of the infamous GDPR directive, a third of Europe’s businesses are still not compliant with the rules. According to a new study, a similar number of businesses said they have found the GDPR improves their operations, while 28% said the regulations make it more difficult to trade with firms outside Europe. | Consultancy.uk

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

6 Great Advantages of the Gig Economy That Will Affect the Future of Independent Consultants
"The gig economy is empowerment. This new business paradigm empowers individuals to better shape their own destiny and leverage their ...Read More

Global Economic Trends, Top Industries Driving the US Economy, the Effect on the Consulting Market
"Ask five economists, and you will get five different answers - six if one went to Harvard. " - Edgar ...Read More

The Specialization Dilemma, Degrees of Specialization, and Differentiation – How to Select the Best Consultant?
If you are trying to get the best and most accurate snapshot of the various degrees of specialization in Consulting ...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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This Week in Consulting: Managing Risk in an Agile Organization

This Week in Consulting

Wednesday, July 17th , 2019

Managing Risk in an Agile Organization

THIS WEEK’S MUST READ
“As organizations move to agile delivery, control functions, including risk, compliance and business control teams, will need to rethink their interaction models for executing credible challenge and advising the business in near real-time methods.”
In this paper, Protiviti shares its Agile Risk Management philosophy. Risk management has to be designed appropriately to keep pace with agile organizations. They define practices for next-generation risk management that are more agile and better aligned, allow for operational excellence, and are focused on customer satisfaction.
This Week’s Must Read is an insight piece from Protiviti on the foundations of agile risk management.
Read on to Find out More: “Managing Risk in an Agile Organization“

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THIS WEEK’S VIDEO:

Dr Salim Al-Harthi and Dr David Hillson explain the purpose of the “100 Risk Questions” video project, and outline the structure of the video series.

THOUGHT LEADERSHIP

What is enterprise risk management? How to put cybersecurity threats into a business context– “Security is growing in significance to effective enterprise operational risk management Tight alignment with both the ERM and crisis management programs is essential.” Many companies still have a traditional approach to enterprise risk by assessing financial, regulatory and operational risks. But cyber risks are an increasing part of the equation. Are ERM program mature enough to assess these new risks?  | Maria Korolov
The future of risk management: “Firms should focus as much on risk response as on risk mitigation,” advises John Drzik, president of global risk and digital at Marsh, one of the report sponsors.” From cyber attacks to physical risks, are all low-probability/high-consequence events truly beyond our ability to identify and manage? | Helen Yates
Confronting the risks of artificial intelligence: “With great power comes great responsibility. Organizations can mitigate the risks of applying artificial intelligence and advanced analytics by embracing three principles.” We have all acknowledge the potential of artificial intelligence. But are we prepared to manage the risks that will arise from a broader application of AI in our organizations?   | Benjamin Cheatham, Kia Javanmardian, and Hamid Samandari, McKinsey
2019 The state of Risk Oversight: “An increasing number of organizations have embraced the concept of enterprise risk management (ERM), which is designed to provide an organization’s board and senior leaders a top-down, strategic perspective of risks on the horizon so that those risks can be managed proactively to increase the likelihood the organization will achieve its core objectives.” The portfolio of potential risks is increasingly complex. How do leaders identify, assess, and manage these risks? The article presents an overview of enterprise management practices.  | Mark Beasley, Bruce Branson and Bonnie Hancock, North Carolina State University
The Global Risks Report 2019: “Profound political, economic, societal, technological and environmental transformations are occurring at an unprecedented scale and pace and have become a part of day-to-day business life.” Is your company responding effectively to the risks it is facing? The 14th edition of the Global Risks Report, prepared by the World Economic Forum, is compulsory reading if you are interested in risk management. | John Drzik, Marsh & McLennan

TRENDS

On the same theme,here is a selection of conferences that you might find useful
 
What Keeps You Awake at Night? :Discover proactive risk management strategies to overcome recession fears, emerging risks, and reputational risk.
 
Risk USA : Re-inventing risk management in a radically changing financial landscape.

CONSULTING INDUSTRY NEWS

New Studio Blockchain Accelerator by IDEO Gets Amazon, Fidelity, Deloitte and Messari Backing: DEO CoLab, which is a subsidiary of IDEO, has found companies such as Fidelity, Amazon, Deloitte, Messari, the Ethereum Foundation and the Stellar Foundation as important partners in this enterprise.  | BitcoinExchangeGuide
A.T. Kearney Research on In-Store Consumer Retail Technology Finds Retailers Missing Opportunity to Meet Consumer Expectations Around In-Store Technology: The 2019 Consumer Retail Technology Survey, found that while 75 percent of consumers are aware of at least one retail technology, only 33 percent have experienced any. When it comes to in-store technologies, most retailers are lagging behind consumer awareness of them in terms of providing an experience involving one or more. | Cision PR Newswire
Capgemini launches first technology venture capital fund: International professional services firm Capgemini has announced it will expand its offering to start-ups with a new technology venture capital fund. Firms which successfully court the fund will receive an investment between €1 million and €5 million, as well as access to assistance from Capgemini’s consultancy business.  | Consultancy.uk

Estée Lauder Expands OMD Hong Kong Remit : Estée Lauder in Hong Kong & Macau has appointed OMD Hong Kong to manage the media brief for its portfolio of prestige skincare, makeup, and fragrance brands. | Bobby McGill, Branding in Asia

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.
 
 

Interested in submitting?

If you are interested in submitting an article, an event or an ad, contact us!

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CONSULTING SOURCING TIPS

The Specialization Dilemma, Degrees of Specialization, and Differentiation – How to Select the Best Consultant?
If you are trying to get the best and most accurate snapshot of the various degrees of specialization in Consulting ...Read More

Challenges of Open Innovation and How Consulting Can be a Catalyst for Open Innovation
"For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate." - Margaret Heffernan Open innovation is the use ...Read More

8 Biggest Reasons Why Organizations Need a Consulting Firm and How Consultants Cater to Clients’ Needs
Businesses today are facing a growing number of challenges. And as an executive, you are often under pressure to find ...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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Challenges of Open Innovation and How Consulting Can be a Catalyst for Open Innovation

“For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate.” – Margaret Heffernan

 
Open innovation is the use of purposive inflows and outflows of knowledge to accelerate internal innovation, and expand the markets for external use of innovation, respectively.
Beyond the extended role given to R&D, the concept also requires a contribution for all stakeholders in the company. Rendering the innovation process much more collaborative and guess what … open.
As we discussed in a previous blog post, the main sources of Open Innovation are:

Academia – universities, labs, and research centers
Customers, Suppliers and Business partners – their unmet needs, issues, and suggestions for product improvements
Industry Groups and Professional Associations where sharing of thought leadership and newest developments, is happening.

Optimize your Consulting Spend

Consultants are selling their time, or more precisely, the access to expert knowledge and execution workforce during a certain period. The potential of production of a Consulting firm is the amount of time available for billing. Every day not billed is lost, just like an empty airplane seat.

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And now here are some of the new challenges:
 
– Implementation of Open Innovation –
Recent reports revealed that about 80% of organizations are engaged in some kind of open innovation. But only a few would qualify those efforts as successful
 
– Balancing Act –
Cooperation of large companies & small start-ups. It’s a known fact that many small companies have reservations about Open Innovation collaboration with large corporations. It’s a matter of building trust and identifying common interests and mutual benefits.
The Virtual Technology Cluster (VTC) Group program provides a complementary platform for all existing accelerators, incubators, Academic programs, etc. as we focus primarily on connecting the innovation within each VTC to revenue.
 
– The Benefits of Curated Innovation –
The VTC Group attempt to take a much more curated approach to innovation. They aim to provide companies with a customized ecosystem of startups, academics, and government agencies to help bring the latest innovations that are happening in their field.
This curation process is crucial as there are considerable, and often unforeseen costs involved with open innovation.
 

How Can Consultants Become a Catalyst of Open Innovation for Your Organization? 
The outside world offers a plethora of opportunities in using Consultants as your “agent” in successful Implementation of Open innovation.
– Facilitating collaboration between large and small companies – Here is a challenge that both large and small companies face –  Large companies are often struggling to explore disruptive ideas as they focus on their core business. Small companies can be fast and agile in developing new ideas, but often struggle bringing these to the market as they lack the means and capability to do do, but if you find ways to combine their resources, the results can be quite interesting!
– Act as your sparring partners –
It can be beneficial to keep the line of communication open with a limited set of partners and bounce ideas as sparring partners. Besides, in those conversations, you manage what you want to disclose or not.
Last, when it comes to getting ideas, don’t underestimate the power of your procurement processes. Leveraging RFIs (Requests For Information) is a way to gather some elements before launching a full-fledged project.
Obviously, some RFIs have to turn into projects at some point. Otherwise, consultants could see it as brain picking, and the source and quality of what you gather will dry.
– Being a source of ideas –
As one of the senior partners from a large consultancy puts it: “We were developing the big idea and selling it.” Consultants were pitching strategy ideas and helping to bring them to fruition.
Today projects have evolved in sizes and shapes, but the scheme where consultants are pitching their ideas remain.
Consultants are also screening and processing a huge amount of information to stay current in their industry of specialization. With the emergence of dynamic start-up ecosystems, consultants have also started to maintain a mapping of the most recent and relevant ones. Oliver Wyman produces on a regular basis an interesting mapping of the start-ups in the procurement field.
– Facilitating innovation task forces –
If you are re-inventing your business or a business unit, the first step will be to help you determine what you expect from your innovation but also what are the limits that you are placing for the exercise.
Facilitation can be very useful to create the conditions to spur innovation. You can find in the market all kind of facilitation services. It ranges from the innovation consulting firms to futurists, that can help you project yourself a few years down the road, taking into account megatrends and technological progress to look at what the future holds. 
– Connecting you with third parties –
New technologies have made it possible to leverage the power of crowdsourcing. Companies like Innocentive and Nine Sigma, for instance, are pioneers in crowdsourced innovation. They help companies to define the problem they are trying to solve. They then organize challenges that can be internal to the company or leveraging their huge network of experts. They can also create specific galleries where clients are exposing their main challenges for experts to solve.
Beyond Crowdsourcing, consulting firms have experience with multiple customers on the same subjects but through different angles. They can also help establish connections when discussions between their clients would prove valuable and beneficial.

If your organization aspires to grow, you need to incorporate open innovation, build an innovation machine or innovate in your operations. The right consultants can be the catalysts you need to spur your innovation. To find out how we can help you, please connect with us today to discuss further.

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Understanding consulting fees to make smarter decisions

You might be nonchalantly asking yourself, why do companies hire Consultants?
Great question!
To improve a process, to save money, or to get a fresh perspective, but most of all, to get access to very specialized skills that great Consultants can bring in.
And as the business environment constantly evolves, it’s safe to say companies need to evolve as well.

“The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” Mark Zuckerberg

Now let’s have a look at Consulting Economics – 
Consultants are selling their time, or more precisely, the access to expert knowledge and execution workforce during a certain period. The potential of production of a Consulting firm is the amount of time available for billing. Every day not billed is lost, just like an empty airplane seat.
They charge per time spend.
So the fee structure is usually geared to optimize the utilization rates. As for products or services you might be more familiar with, this ranges from Cost Plus to Value Based.

Know the Consulting Category

Businesses today are facing a growing number of challenges. And as an executive, you are often under pressure to find solutions to multiple problems. What value can Consultants bring your organization?

Read More

Consulting Project Fees Framework –
Daily Rate: For smaller projects or exploratory phases, the Consultant can propose a negotiated daily rate. The total fee is then calculated based on the real number of days spent on the project.
Flat Fee: The most common fee structure for large projects. The Consultant will evaluate the work to be done and the deliverables to be prepared, and define the expertise and time needed to deliver the project. Afterward, two approaches are possible. Taking the workload based approach using daily rates or use this as a reference but price based on the value to the end client.
While the following breakdown is standard, remember to focus on the benefits and the value, as that’s the most important!
Performance-Based Fees: This fees structure, also called success fees, is linked to the achievements of pre-defined objectives. It is particularly effective for projects when the results can be easily measured, such as cost reduction, or top-line improvement. This often takes place as a bonus on top of a flat fee structure.
There are also other occasional fee structures:
Retainer: A retainer is a monthly fee negotiated with a client, based on a certain number of hours of support per month. This fee structure is mainly used by coaches or trusted advisors. It is often combined with spot projects since a retainer is usually the best way to be the first one aware of projects to come.
Equity-based Fees: This fee structure is often used with fast-growing start-ups that have little cash upfront or in case of turnaround situations. It is then up to the Consulting Firms to adjust the resources to balance risk and value creation.

Percentage-based Fees: The fees here are calculated as a percentage of a project or transaction amount and often used for M&A projects, for instance, where the consulting firms play a facilitation and brokerage role too.
Hybrid Type Fees: And finally, some project fees structure can be a hybrid of various fee structures such as a retainer with a negotiated daily rate when the amount of monthly hours is reached, a flat fee with an additional success fee, etc.
The best parameters to define a project price –
Since Consultants are primarily selling their time, the time spent on a project is the main cost driver. Usually, the price is calculated as the product of the daily rate per the number of days spent on the project.
But another essential parameter is the team composition. The experience can make a huge difference. You can expect a multiplication factor of 5 or more between an experienced partner and a newly-graduated analyst.
Another element is the share of time spent on the project. A full-time assignment is pretty straightforward: the consultant is supposed to be on site most of the days. Any part-time assignment can be vague, and very difficult to verify.
Pyramid structure to explain fees –
Part-time assignments of very experienced consultants can have a significant impact on the bill and can be extremely hard to track. Many of you have probably experienced the team of experts in the proposal at 10% of their time that you have actually never used. In the same fashion, ramp-up and ramp-down of team members should be linked to clear phases.
The specific industry where clients operate is an overlooked driver of the price for Consulting Projects. You will have the high-end of the spectrum – the Financial Services or Energy, where Consultants apply a premium, and at the low-end the Public Sector or Non-Profit Sector.
Finally, don’t forget the expenses when you are evaluating your budget. On certain projects, clients have agreed to up to 30% of expenses. Some Consulting Firms prefer a flat fee, expenses included, to avoid such discussions with clients.
Understanding the Consulting Industry is a pre-requisite to optimizing your Consulting Spend. Knowing your options can allow you to reach for innovative solutions, and to get more for your budget.

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The African Consulting Market is focused on Strategy and Human Capital

Welcome to the fourth 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.
In the previous issue, we discussed that Large Consulting Firms (with 1000+ employees) make up one-third of the consulting firms in Africa. Despite the strong presence of foreign companies in the region, 57% of the consulting firms are in fact only based in Africa, and almost half of the companies have less than 50 employees.
In this issue, we will take a look at the top capabilities of the Consulting Firms in the region and how the figure compares to that on a global scale.

The Capabilities
According to Consulting Quest’s research and data from the Global Directory, the Top Three Capabilities in the African consulting market are Strategy, Human Capital and Operations. Technology, being the most common capability among large companies (with 1000+ Employees), is the #4 biggest capability in the region, while it is only ranked #6 globally.
The total number of capabilities covered on average is 2.5. Interestingly, however, almost a quarter of the consulting firms in Africa is specialized in only one capability. Niche, local and small consulting firms are on the rise.
In the next issue we will dive into the Industries of the consulting offering and explain how the overall consulting offering is not reflecting yet the local needs.
 

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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.

A Practical Guide to Setting Up Your Consulting Business

You are an expert in your field, have established a stellar professional reputation, and now you are ready to strike out on your own and start a consulting business. You may be itching to jump in and get started, but like any business, having a solid and well-thought-out plan is essential to your success. This practical guide to setting up your consulting business is your first step to the successful launch of your business. Read on, then get ready to roll up your sleeves!
Start with a self-assessment
The very first step you should take, before you even begin to set up your business, is to do an honest self-assessment. Ask yourself these questions before moving any further. When you are done, you’ll have a clear idea of your motivation.
1. Is this the right professional decision for you?
Starting a consulting business isn’t for everyone, even if you are very skilled at what you do. It’s important to be sure you are making this decision for the right reasons and that it will further (not hinder) your professional achievements. What is motivating you to take this step now? Are you feeling stagnant at work? Have you reached a point in your career where this is the logical next step? By defining your why, you’ll be better able to decide if this is the right decision at this time.
2. Do you have the skill set to proceed?
Clients hire consultants for their knowledge, and the foundation of any successful consulting business is expertise. However, starting and running a business requires a variety of business skills and, most importantly, a lot of determination. Be sure you’re prepared to handle ALL of the responsibilities that come with running a consulting business, not just the consulting.
3. Is there a market for your business?
You can spend all the money you want on a slick marketing campaign, but it will be for nothing if there are no takers in your market. How many other consultants in your market are in the same field as you? If your market is saturated, you’ll need to be prepared to compete with other consultants for business. Take a look at the other consultants in your field, and see what they are doing. What can you bring to the table that is unique? What do you offer that will bring clients to your door?
4. Are your numbers and gut feel in sync?
It may be tempting to hitch onto that gut instinct, and just go with it. Branching off and starting your own business may seem romantic and adventurous, but the real goal is to build a business with longevity. You don’t want to have to close up shop a year from now, when you realize your money can no longer support the business. Run a check-up of your financial health. Do you have enough funds to live on while you start your business? How much money do you have to invest in start-up costs, and how much will you need to borrow? This is also where your research into your market will help. Is your market viable enough to make the initial investment of funds worth it?
Once you’ve made your way through these questions, and you are confident that this is the right decision for your career, it’s time to get down to the real work.

Launching Your Consulting Business
The next several steps will guide you through the essentials to starting your business. Follow these steps carefully, and you will be well on your way to a fulfilling and exciting consulting career.
1. Determine your value proposition.
This is where you define your mission. Why are you doing this, what makes you different, and how will it help your clients? A value proposition is a short summary of your business, what it offers, and the reasons why a client would want to buy from you instead of someone else. Keep it clear and concise, and seize the opportunity to differentiate yourself. Decide if you will present yourself as a generalist or a specialist. Will you propose specific products or formalise them as you go? Make this clear in your value proposition
You’ll want it to say 3 things: what do you do, what makes you unique, and how will your clients benefit.
2. Create a business identity.
This is where you get to brainstorm what your business will look like. What will you call your business? Will you use a slogan or tagline? If you have the skills, create a logo; otherwise, investigate companies that can help you design one. Create a uniform identity that will be recognizable in your market to appear on business cards and other marketing materials.

Launch your Consultancy

Here are the 10 commandments of a great consultant, to maximize your potential…

Read More

3. Set up the administrative foundation.
Next, you’ll need to focus on setting up a proper work environment and administrative framework. Will you be working from home or setting up in an office? Define your space, then move on to details like office furniture, computers, software, and other technology. Set up internet and a phone number, with options to conference call or video call if you plan to conduct business from a distance. You’ll also need to acquire or draft your own legal documents, like contracts for business agreements with clients, and make sure you have satisfied all legal requirements for setting up a business in your area.
4. Create your marketing campaign.
Your business is set up, you’ve acquired your first launch client, but now you need more.
Your marketing campaign is what introduces you to potential clients and convinces them to learn more about what you have to offer. Start close to home and let all of your personal and business contacts know about your business. Send business cards out to everyone you have worked with in the past who may be in need of your services, or could provide a referral. Pick up the phone and start making calls. Get people talking about you and what you do!
Your marketing campaign should also include a professional website, social media profiles, brochures, and other printed materials. Have your logo, slogan, and anything else that is a part of your “look” on all of your marketing materials. You are creating a brand along with a business.
5. Decide on your fee structure.
Know in advance what you are going to ask in compensation for your services. Define your sales pitch and your selling tool kit for proposals. Consider gathering testimonials, slides, case studies, and printed materials that demonstrate your track record and the value of your services. Have your resume updated and ready to go.
Growing Your Consulting Business
Once your business is launched, your marketing campaign is going full blast, and you are beginning to negotiate with, or perhaps have already signed, a few clients, you want to continue to focus on building your client base.
1. Continue to leverage your personal network.
People who know you personally have an interest in seeing you succeed. Continue to remind your personal network about your new business.
2. Expand your network.
Next focus on expanding your professional network, both digitally and in person. Having a social media presence is a valuable tool in building a business. Consider not only professional networking sites, like LinkedIn, but also social ones, like Facebook and Twitter. Join in-person meet-up groups that bring together professionals in your field, and connect with businesses that may be in need of your services. Participate in local networking events to meet other professionals who might need or can refer your services. And don’t forget this one simple rule: ask your network to introduce you to other people who may be interested in your services.
3. Develop partnerships.
Relationships are key in business. Partner with consultants in other fields or professionals in a related industry who are willing to exclusively refer business to you in exchange for your exclusive referrals. As you continue to build your network of personal relationships, you’ll see more referrals over time.
4. Promote your services.
Become a walking and talking advertisement for your consulting business. While you’re getting things off the ground, you’ll need all the promotion you can get. Stay diligent! Build a strong digital and social media presence, market your services to your target audience, and even consider running special promotions to start building a clientele and establishing your business’s reputation.
Final Points to Remember
As you embark on this journey, it’s good to come back to these simple reminders.
1. Devote yourself to this new venture fully.
You won’t find massive success with half effort.
2. Value yourself.
You may be tempted to offer lower rates as a new business, but don’t undervalue your skills. Know what you are worth and stick with it!
3. Know when to walk away.
Don’t give up if you’re having a rough patch. The road to starting a new business is always bumpy. But, if you’ve been at it for a while and your heart is no longer in it, don’t hesitate to walk away if that feels like the right decision. Go back to the beginning of this guide and start at step one to reassess your passion for your business.
4. Have fun!
This is an exciting, new chapter in your life. Enjoy it!
Starting your consulting business will not be easy, but it will almost certainly be exciting and fulfilling. Let this practical guide be your starting point. Then, just keep it simple, stay the course, and enjoy the ride.

Consulting Playbook: Boosting on Time Delivery in Food Services

The Consulting Playbook, Edition #26
The delivery to a major client has spiked to an all-time high thus new buy concept and internal operations excellence booster was required. The shareholder and a major client too, needed a robust recovery plan of increased missing parts, avoiding new missing parts backlog and adequate measures for maintenance planning, headcount demand, flexibilization and supply chain optimization. The company decided to call for support from a consultant.
Creating and Implementing the Recovery Plan

Appointment of Recovery Manager was made to implement measures for recovery assignments from Management Board to shop floor level.
Diagnostic of the current situation, root cause analysis and Daily Action Tracking was implemented covering supply chain, synchronization of production control rooms, for all the three plants, enabling to achieve targets and recovery plan.
Design and application of workshops and meetings for reporting to shareholders and stakeholders, work councils conducted.
OEE was performed to stabilize recovery, and lean workshops done to enhance team’s understanding of the changes.
During the duration of the project, the consultant provided support to the CEO as Trusted Advisor, acting as sounding board to define the course of action and facilitating the convergence of stakeholders in a difficult period.

The Success of the Project Delivered Desired Outcome
An aligned recovery plan, daily management action tracker, weekly missing parts report were implemented. A stringent tracking process was applied with well-defined measures. There was a restored trust in transparency and management control by the shareholders achieved. A result and recipient oriented requirements catalogue was produced for Shareholders.

Additional Information

Are You Well-prepared for Crisis Management?
Check out Our List with 12 Points on Crisis Management Below
The Food industry is especially vulnerable to various types of crises, and many Executives feel that they can always improve their level of preparedness. Being good at crisis management should be a priority for Executives and designated employees. Food recall, Food disease outbreaks, and Product withdrawal can be extremely costly and cause serious supply disruption, as well as result in costly law suits by Consumer Advocacy groups, and the list with troubles goes on and on.
The public, your consumers, as well as the media can be unforgiving and your business, and organization can suffer serious damages. We like to think that your organization tales all necessary and legal measures, to avoid situations like that, but here are a few great insights on how to deal with crises.
12 Points List

The outcome of a crisis and the effect of your business strongly depends on how your company responds and the attitude it demonstrates.
Be prepared in advance, do not wait for an event to occur, and act afterwards. It might be too late, and the damages harder to control.
How quickly you respond and how flexible you are in dealing with the parties affected in the crisis is very important.
Big businesses have an advantage over smaller companies, as they are usually better organized and more prepared pre, during, and post-crisis period.
An essential part is to have a detailed Crisis Management plan in place, and the designated parties to be well-familiar with it.
Have a list with outside Experts who can help you manage the crisis.
Stay on top of the developments and have the latest information, so you can take the most effective actions.
Practice empathy and understanding of the affected party’s situation in the crisis.
Take responsibility and make necessary commitments in resolving the crisis.
Communicate honestly and openly with the media, outside vendors, the public, and finally with your team members and employees, to reach to the solutions as efficiently as possible.
Manage your cash flow – a crisis event might sometimes freeze your sales and cash flow completely, so it is crucial to have an action plan in moving forward and enough cash supply for business operations.
Plan with Insurance companies to protect your assets, business, and ensure the recovery steps and receiving compensation.

For Further Reading:

Food Safety Crisis Management
Crisis Management in the Food & Beverage Industry
Preparing for a crisis in your food business
Opportunities to Strengthen Your Brand
Crisis Management in the Food Chain – A Canadian Perspective

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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.

Consulting Playbook: Building Modern HR Practices and How That Impacts Your Organization

The Consulting Playbook, Edition #5
Every business is a people’s business at its core. How you organize and manage your talent is essential to the health and the growth of your organization. Let’s have a look at some issues and top practices defining a modern and effective HR department.
The Demands of Global Growing Talent Needs
The organization referenced is a Global Holding Company operating designing and manufacturing air & space parts and vehicles that boasted a large workforce: > 150,000 FTE, with 25% engineers, and comprised of 5 main operating companies. The organization is among the leaders in servicing the Aviation, Aerospace and Defense industry. They have completed a major research project on the topic of “How to organize for growth in the Aerospace and Defense Industry”, and this research had specifically outlined improvements in the HR functions within a corporate environment.
HRD together with the Executive Committee had identified serious HR issues which had to be resolved on a Group level. The organization needed to recruit 5,000 engineers additionally in very specialized domains (composites, structures, propulsion). Other major areas of improvement included managerial culture, creating a sense of ownership, and establishing carrier bridges across the group of companies.
Corporate Business Academy Designed to Support New Initiatives
The Consultant developed a close working relationship with top HR team members (Group HR function + HRDs of operating companies) with an agenda to define HR priorities and create a blueprint of new strategy implementation. He also performed an analysis of the present organization’s structure at Group level, and in the operating companies to be able to determine commonalities and overlaps (interviews and benchmarks), and assess function and performance. During the design sessions with HR top team alternative design options were discussed and further revised. Corporate Business Academy was organized and prepared for launch. The role of the newly established academy would be to build and support the newly designed managerial culture of the Group HR process redefinition: candidacies, recruitment, evaluation, and training.
The Impact on the Business:

Established a common vision and action plan for Group HR functions
Refined the HR priorities and roadmap to implementation
New Resource allocation processes were outlined including Performance Management/KPIs, Key processes
Setup of a common improvement platform for all non-transactional processes (pay, time, non-specific training)
New HR Business Partner model was implemented across operating companies
Corporate Business Academy set to become a key factor of the Group culture

Here you can create the content that will be used within the module.

Additional Information

Effective Reorganization Methods for a Modern Global HR Operation
A modern and dynamic HR department has a tremendous impact on the business performance of any organization. As companies grow and their needs in qualified talent rises on a global scale, the demand for a progressive HR operation becomes even more ardent. If this component is so crucial, we had identified the key HR competency as following: familiarity with integrated talent management, understanding of workforce planning, and competency in social networking and new HR technology.
The Top 5 HR Practices that Can Make an Impact on Your Business:
1. Structured Governance and Business Case Development. In order for HR to best serve a business and build a successful business case, a close working relationship with the business leaders is a must. This will serve as foundation to understand the inner workings of the company, and involve the management in the planning process. It will also foster the full alignment…
2. Developing Advanced Workforce Planning Capabilities. Leading HR organizations today incorporate elaborate forecasting and workforce analytics into their processes. This enables them to apply company-wide talent, latest business data and external workforce data into practical insights that they can share with business leaders.
3. Implementing the right HR Philosophy – Leading HR organizations tend to commit to creating work environments enabling employees to thrive both as individuals and as a group. They clearly communicate expectations, the HR philosophy and mission, and actively engage in creating a positive environment. Innovation and collaboration, or creating the best place to work are their top priorities, while the least effective HR philosophies limit their focus on efficiency or cost-cutting efforts.
4. Reducing administrative work for HR Business Partners. A HR organization represents the link between the HR function and business leaders, a high-impact HR organization is able to advise senior business leaders on decision support, workforce planning, leadership development and executive coaching. Delegating the project to the right person, improves HR’s credibility across the enterprise, enhance working relationships with business leaders, cultivate mutual understanding and gain more influence. Poor performance in this area and narrow focus on administrative duties only, can actually reduce an HR function’s ability to work effectively.
5. Flexible HR Organization Design. Leading HR organizations are flexible and agile. Their structure allows adaptive movement when conditions dramatically change.  Centralized, decentralized model or a combination of the two, emerged as a predictor of HR success. Flexibility of the model is an important and valuable feature allowing an organization to adapt changes, and continue to grow and thrive.
For further reading:
– Reviewing the Functions of Global Human Resource Management
– The global and local HR function
– Challenges for human resource management and global business strategy

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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.

Self-Diagnostic to Improve the Management of Your Consulting Spend

Do you currently employ consultants on a regular basis? Perhaps you consider consultants a negligible part of your budget and overall business strategy—there for small, niche projects when you need them and gone as soon as that business is concluded. However, from our experience, consulting spend can represent millions of dollars for companies, and if not properly managed (or managed at all), you’ll miss out on the strategic opportunities a consultant can provide.
Today, we are going to look at a self-diagnostic to improve the way you manage your consulting spending. We will look at four key areas in which to assess your current management approaches: scope, panel management, performance management, and sourcing.
1. Scope
When considering the scope of consultants in your day-to-day and annual business, ask yourself these questions.

Do you know the amount your company is spending on consulting on a yearly basis

The first step toward improving the management of your consulting spend is to be sure you know just how much you are spending, on average, each year. Knowing this number will put in perspective for you the part consultants play in your business and allow you to better evaluate whether or not you’re seeing a strong return on your current investments.

What special skills do the consultants you employ possess?

More importantly, what skills do your consultants provide that add value to your business and to various projects? Look at the areas in which you are seeking the help of a consultant. What activities could be done in house? What about out of house? Are you hiring consultants that fill important skill gaps in your current personnel? Consultants should fulfill a specific need within your company, whether that be a new perspective, a special expertise, or a greater authority. Understanding this will help establish the scope of consultants you are currently working with.

Manage your Consulting Spend

…successful companies apply a sound financial management principle: hiring external consultants has to bring more value than leading the project internally.
Read More

How does the work of your consultants align with your key strategic needs?

What are your needs this year, and from year-to-year? In order to manage your consulting spend, you need to understand how your consultants’ skills align with your business’s needs. When looking at your consulting spend with through a strategic lens, does your resource allocation align with your strategic intent? Are there areas where you could reduce costs? Areas where you should invest further? Too many companies tend to allocate their consulting budget in the same way every year, when a dynamic resource allocation would be better suited.

What is the rationale for using consultants?

There are many valid reasons for hiring and maintaining ongoing relationships with consultants. Be sure you understand your own. Maintain clear perspective and encourage (or even demand) that departments keep you apprised of their rationale behind hiring a new consultant. You should always be able to answer these two questions before bringing a consultant on board: “do we need this person?” and “why?”
2. Panel Management
When evaluating consultant panels and their usefulness, ask yourself these key questions.

Do you know how to qualify a supplier to a specific project?

Ideally, you should have a process in mind to evaluate a prospective supplier for each project. Less than ideal, perhaps, you have a list of prospective consultant suppliers and tend to go to one or two of your favorites, without weighing specific specialties and strengths, but simply trusting their reliability. Be sure you understand what each of your potential suppliers is bringing to the table and how that might complement a specific project.

Are you using a panel of qualified suppliers?

Do you have a ready-made panel of suppliers who you know to be experts in fields you need for your business? Perhaps you do not. Check in with your departments and find out how they access qualified services, and make sure that they have a predictable, responsible source of talent. Vet your suppliers to ensure that you are getting reliable and highly qualified consultants.

Do you easily find the expertise you need?

When the need for a consultant arises, are you able to quickly and easily find the best consultant or consultants for the job? Ideally, for any highly technical requirements, you should have a trusted advisor you can turn to for guidance that will have a selection of candidates on hand. With the right partner, it should be simple to access qualified consultants with the expertise you need.

Are your usual vendors always available to provide necessary expertise?

Consider this question carefully. Review past projects and times you needed third-party expertise from your trusted vendors. How did it go? Were your suppliers there when you needed them? If things did not go well, then that is a sign that you need to look at panel management and revise your approach, perhaps your panel list, and almost definitely, your process for soliciting the expertise you need when you need it.
3. Performance Management
Once you have the consultants you want, doing the work you need, you still need to monitor their performance. Here are some questions to ask regarding the performance management process.

Do you manage the performance of your suppliers?

Ideally, you should be, but the reality is that such performance management may be slack, especially in long-term business relationships. If you are not managing performance, or if that management is ill-defined, here is where you need to start. Set up benchmarks for the performance of your suppliers and be sure that they are meeting those expectations.

Do you know how to qualify a supplier to a specific project?

Ideally, you should have a process in mind to evaluate a prospective supplier for each project. Less than ideal, perhaps, you have a list of prospective consultant suppliers and tend to go to one or two of your favorites, without weighing specific specialties and strengths, but simply trusting their reliability. Be sure you understand what each of your potential suppliers is bringing to the table and how that might complement a specific project.

Are you using a panel of qualified suppliers?

Do you have a ready-made panel of suppliers who you know to be experts in fields you need for your business? Perhaps you do not. Check in with your departments and find out how they access qualified services, and make sure that they have a predictable, responsible source of talent. Vet your suppliers to ensure that you are getting reliable and highly qualified consultants.

How Much Could you save on your Consulting Spend?
Take the test to assess your Consulting Procurement Maturity and the potential Savings you could expect
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Are you usually satisfied with the ROI of assignments?

Another key indicator of a good or bad business relationship is whether or not your are seeing a strong return on your investment. If you are keeping an eye on costs and scope, here is where you can follow up, by making sure that your consultants are justifying their cost. If you are not consistently satisfied with the ROI of consulting assignments (and how can you know unless you are monitoring), then you are not properly managing your consulting spend.

Have you benchmarked consulting costs with your peers?

Once you know the costs of your consultants, and what you are getting for your investment, it is important to make sure that you are still running lean and staying competitive. As with any expenditure you make, compare your spending to that of your peers. If you are spending more than others in your industry on consulting services, take a look at your process and see where it might be improved. Also, if you buy large amounts from the same vendors, are you getting the rebates you should?

Do you provide detailed feedback to your consultants?

Communication works best both ways. Whether for good or for bad, a reputable consultant will appreciate honest feedback. Clear communication allows you to improve your business’s bottom line and the overall business-consultant relationship. It may be easier to provide a list of requirements and say nothing until the work is done, but detailed, regular feedback can go a long way toward ensuring the project gets done right, the first time around.

Do you discuss feedback to improve your relationship with your consultants?

Once you have provided feedback, to maximize the effect, consider setting aside time to discuss what you have found. Give time for the consultant to ask his or her own questions. Again, good communication goes both ways. With solid metrics and a plan in mind, you have what you need to improve your relationship for this project, and for future projects to come.
4. Sourcing Process
The last area of concern, with respect to your consultants, is how you are managing the sourcing process. To diagnose the effectiveness of your current sourcing process, ask yourself these questions.

Do you have a process to acquire consulting services?

Having a clear plan in place for how you acquire consultants is imperative to improving your consulting spend. This process should be in writing and followed by all departments involved with the hiring of consultants. If you have gone through all of the above self-diagnostic questions, consider formalizing your process in writing, if you have not already. Also, make sure a professional buyer is involved in the process.

Do you have frame contracts set up with your major suppliers?

Once you have everything else in place, you should have general frame contracts with consultant suppliers with whom you do regular business. In this way, you can set up general fees with understood benchmarks, generate volume and loyalty based rebates,  and minimize your procurement time later.

Do you include performance in your criteria of choice?

When discussing with your suppliers the criteria you have for consultants, be sure that they are taking performance on past projects into account. A good supplier should be thoroughly vetting their candidates and checking references from previous employers to ensure that their consultants have the experience and positive track record they say they do. Don’t let performance abilities be pushed aside by other, seemingly more important criteria.

Do you systematically use Confidentiality Agreements when discussing your needs with consultants?

Even before you hire a consultant, in the course of discussing your needs, you may need to divulge privileged proprietary information. Make sure that your sourcing process includes a confidentiality clause, so that your competitors – and others – will not know what you are doing and why.
If you have answered “yes” to most of the questions in this self-assessment, congratulations! You are among the 7 percent of buyers who consider themselves fully equipped to manage their consulting spend. However, more likely, you have probably just realized that you now have a blueprint to improve your performance, generate tremendous savings, and get more value from your consultants.
At Consulting Quest, we aim to improve the overall performance of the consulting industry by carefully vetting our consultants and working closely with both consultants and businesses to facilitate more positive working relationships. We understand that there are many moving parts to effectively managing your consulting spend. If you found this self-diagnostic useful, please let us know how it helped and what you have done with it.

6 steps to evaluate the quality of Consulting Proposals

Your winning RFP process has attracted a score of proposals. Once the elation of that bounty fades, you come face to face with the daunting task of selecting the winning proposal.
Don’t just dive right in. Never lose track of the notion that it’s not about just making a purchase—it’s about solving a problem for your company. That’s why this task cries out for employing a sure-fire process that marries alignment with inspiration.
In this post, we’ll look at how to evaluate the quality of a proposal with an eye towards identifying the highest-quality solution for your company’s needs.
Warning: this information may run afoul of the herd approach to RFP evaluation.
Funnel down to potential winners, setting aside the rest.
Think of the process as a funnel into which you pour all the proposals.

At the narrow end will settle just those proposals that, even at a first glance, make your heart skip a beat. At the least, they meet every one of your RFP’s criteria. Plus they landed in your inbox on time, are well-organized, and seem promising.

A bit higher up the funnel are the proposals that are slightly off-track but still workable. Maybe they came in late with a good rationale or missed an inconsequential step, but some look promising. You want to avoid eliminating a potential gem too early in the process.

At this point, your impulse will be to shred the rest. Stifle that impulse.
Yes, anything high up in the funnel should be set aside for now as an unlikely fit, but keep these two key cautionary notes in mind:

Don’t overlook or toss aside too quickly a proposal from an upstart entrepreneur with a great idea but less than desirable proposal-writing skills. There may be a way to have that idea become all or part of your business solution.

Be careful not to burn bridges when you send your response to vendors with rejected proposals, regardless of how you view their current proposal. Here’s why:  In an environment of rapid change, these vendors may evolve into great partners or suppliers. Moreover, your company’s needs can evolve to the point where you might realize that one of these rejected proposals now would be a good fit.

Source Consultants

What may get overlooked, however, is the critical point where the rubber will meet the road: how to follow up the work of the consultant.

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Gather a team of proposal evaluators.
Okay—you now have the proposals in hand that, at first glance, meet your eligibility requirements and your other basic criteria. It’s time to get serious and pick your evaluation team.
Who might be among your team of reviewers? Procurement professionals, to be sure. Perhaps a senior executive or two, depending on the type of solution you are seeking.

Consider including end users where appropriate. One hallmark of innovative companies is that they view end users or customers as partners rather than consumers of a new product or service.

Seeking input from a range of stakeholders helps ensure that the evaluation process is perceived as fair and is more likely to result in selecting the best proposal for your company’s needs. Both of those are vital to successfully implement the new idea or project.

If your team lacks deep experience in the area of procurement processes, consider including a qualified and experienced consultant on the team to help build a process designed to procure the best solution for your company.
Review all the criteria: the forest and the trees.
Keep in mind that some people on your review team will be attuned to seeing the big picture—the forest—while others will focus on details—the trees. Having both types on your team is an advantage.

Start with these reminders:

Your project’s objectives which any winning proposal needs to fit.

Your corporate culture and the type of partner or supplier that might complement that culture and be the right fit.

The approach selected reinforce and support the overall purpose of the project, as such, depending on the context :

Look for an entrepreneurial approach and an idea that may act like a company spark plug.

Look for an approach that is innovative, original, breakthrough or transformational, and a concept your company can leverage.

Be on the lookout for a particularly intelligent solution using advanced technologies and outside-the-box thinking.

… Or look for a proven and reliable approach

Ask the team to review the proposed solutions along the lines of problem resolution, clarity, internal consistency, and ease of implementation, as well as outside-the-box approaches.
Next, jump to the standards:

Eligibility

Ethics and any potential conflicts of interest

Transparency in the content of the proposal

The proposal meets or exceeds all or nearly all the criteria in the RFP

Ease of implementation and future buy-in

How thoroughly did the vendor research your company’s needs?

Quality and expertise of the team that will deliver the job

How does the proposal price align with your budget?

The fun begins: scoring/weighting/ranking.
In the initial round, go for individual scores based on a matrix. Embed a weight to each scoring criterion.
Since we are limiting our discussion to the quality of the proposal, weighting may look like this, depending on your current needs:

meets functional requirements – 30%

aligns well with corporate culture / fit – 15%

inspirational, breakthrough thinking; originality – 15%

team expertise – 10%

quality of written proposal and clarity of deliverables – 10%

Price 20%

Next, gather the team back together to build a consensus score. Why? Procurement is one of the backbones of your company’s path to increasing its ROI and keeping its competitive edge. The procurement process is simply too important to be left to a flat averaging of reviewers’ scores.
What can you gain form a consensus score?

You get beneath an outlier number to identify whether that evaluator, for example, has had a past experience that has informed the scoring. A key learning experience!

On the other hand, perhaps a reviewer uses the scoring to put a personal agenda into play—a move that can be revealed in building consensus.

Finally, a consensus score is more likely to be perceived as fair on the part of potential partners and suppliers, as well as your employees and end users.

This all sounds as if it is more work than a simple matrix of X criteria and Y responses—and it is. But the outcome will be worth it: a workable solution that will help keep your company’s competitive edge.
Last, if none of the proposals fits either your requirements or your budget, do not hesitate to go have a second round of discussions with the short listed companines. The better consultants understand your needs, the better they will be able to tailor the solution (scope, timing, team size) to accomodate your requirements.
If you need assistance with meshing your procurement process with your company’s strategic priorities and market needs, Consulting Quest stands ready to support you with a global perspective and a tailored solution.

Consulting Playbook: Prepare a merger of equals with the customer in mind

The Consulting Playbook, Edition #16
 
When two Global Companies in the Food Services industry started planning a merger, they needed the help of a Consultant to design the new operating model of the new company.
The objectives were rather clear, economies of scale, better geographic coverage and access to new distribution channels.
However, one of the key concerns expressed by the management was the risk of losing focus during the transition of the two separate companies to an integrated one. Both companies were facing extreme competition in their respective areas and the merger could become a major distraction if not managed properly.
The main aspects the Consultant needed to offer expertise were alignment of the two companies’ different governing structure and practices, agreement on the new business model and on series of different issues. Their strategic priorities had to be coordinated too.
5 Steps to Align the Company’s Focal Points

Valuable input was gathered from the two CEOs and the rest of the executive team on the new operating model and the corporate center design. Would the corporate center act as a financial holding or rather be involved on the day-to-day operations? The company opted for a light corporate center providing strategic guidance and created a shared service center to optimize all transactional activities.
A detailed analysis of the two companies’ current state of operation was performed, to facilitate the new company’s launch and provide more insight for the transition and ensure a quick alignment with the refreshed group’s strategy.
Each corporate department of the new company was designed in group sessions that included a broad participation of executives and team members. Input by the groups on the two companies’ subsidiaries was gathered.
Top management worked on alignment of relocation efforts as many corporate centers were being rationalized at headquarter but also regional level.
Last, a transition team led by one of the two CEOs was created to manage day-to-day operations while the other CEO took the lead of the Integration effort.

A New Operating Model Leads the Way for a New Vision
The project was successfully completed with the adoption of a detailed new operating model. This helped the newly established entity to articulate the new corporate vision and to effectively manage new priorities as well as the balance of power between the manager of the two legacies.
Company’s mission statement was created with strategic alignment between all departments and roadshows were organized all over the world to communicate the vision and embark the teams.
The new management tone was defined, and the merger was successfully implemented.

Additional Information

Major Food Service Trends Shaping the Industry
From fine dining to food trucks this year we are seeing some interesting and significant trends. Usually new trends start at the top, with the top level dining and find their way into the lower levels of food service infrastructure. There is plenty of innovation and progressive trends to talk about affecting today’s food service industry. From Fast-casual, Fast-fine to  Fast-casual 2.0 establishments prove they are more innovative and ground breaking than Fine dining.
Main factors that are affecting the food industry lately, as expected, are technology and mobile apps, commodity prices variations, as traditional food services become more open and more dynamic.
The revolutionary aspects we are noticing are personalization, authenticity and brand new food and drink concepts developing in pace with consumers’ tastes.
Companies need to understand better what motivates consumers and what are they looking for when it comes to food and dining.
Top Three Consumer Trends Today Include

Mobility and Flexibility

Consumers want their food anywhere and anytime. Hot food bar, delis, sushi bars, salad bars, etc., are being offered in a variety of outlets from Fast-casual 2.0 and Upmarket casual to Grocery stores, plus there is various meal subscription services, meal delivery businesses, and more. This is creating additional competition for traditional restaurant operators, and they must adequately respond to. Keep innovating and attracting more customers, these outlets need to try hard to retain them too.

Extreme Choices in Food and Eating Styles

Some people are devotedly counting calories and looking for lower fat, fat-free, sugar-free types of foods, with the clear goal to lose weight and stay in shape. While others like to indulge, and eat anything and everything they like from solid and elaborate main courses to rich desserts and sweets, burgers, pizza, pasta and more. Customers just have a range of preferences. And they like to have choices readily available to them, whether they like to indulge or stay healthy and slim.

New Sources of Protein

Consumers are very concerned with protein, and where they get their proteins from. New alternative sources of protein are sought after like quinoa, beans, cauliflower, poultry, fish, etc., beside the popular options like steaks and burgers.
A smart strategy for restaurants will be to offer a bigger variety of traditional and contemporary proteins to satisfy customers’ evolving tastes.
For Further Reading –
– Mergers & acquisitions: Latest news and analysis articles
– Food and Beverage Merger & Acquisition Activity for 2015
– Why more food industry mergers are likely to come
– How 10 Food Trends For 2016 Will Transform Restaurants
– Emerging Trends

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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.

4 Practical Strategies to put your Consulting Spend back on tracks

“Consultants have credibility because they are not dumb enough to work at your company.” – Scott Adams.

Just joking! Now, that we have your attention, let’s talk about strategies, data utilization, value of services, and price.
When you start to look at your consulting spend and realize the drift in costs, amongst the various immediate initiatives that you can consider, think about scanning your consulting spend. It’s about slicing and dicing the data you gathered, to identify the outliers. You’ve seen the patterns and have a clear idea what’s going on. Discrepancies in the spending or the practices are often indicators of something that went wrong. Let us walk you through the most common situations.
Spending more is not always a problem. What matters is the value being created. Let’s check first if the money is well spent if synergies could be created and ways to avoid waste.
When one part of the organization is spending more than others?
What could be the root causes of this situation?

The scope of responsibilities determines Spending & Value created

All parts of the organization are not equal in their scope of responsibilities. Since Consulting is roughly proportional to revenues, a large Business Unit, for instance, is prone to higher Consulting Spend than a small one. Looking at the ratio spending vs. revenues can be a good way to look at a situation. Conversely, in a turnaround situation, you might be spending more on smaller GBUs to bring them back to value creation. Be careful not to throw good money after bad though.
The corporate can also be a good client of Consulting Services. For a company with an integrated Corporate in charge of Strategic decisions and Excellence programs, the Corporate can have the larger Consulting Spend whereas a decentralized Company with a light Corporate should expect a minimal spend for the Corporate functions if you have the later with High Consulting Costs, you may want to question either your governance model or your demand management.

Create Value Through Consulting

But you need to know that the Consulting Industry is not one homogeneous block. There some regional specificities, including on the capabilities.

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How the context and the strategy affect Consulting Spend

A regulatory change, a reorganization or an acquisition and the associated PMI can inflate the Consulting spending. If a part of the organization has launched a major transformation or has an ambitious strategy, it can increase its expenses for Consulting to accelerate the process. This can make sense to capture value faster, just make sure however you don’t end up overspending with luxury consultants and put in place a monthly reporting of consulting costs. This will avoid unpleasant surprises.
Sometimes Executives use Consulting as a workaround for strict HR policies since the rules on Consulting are often looser. Creating surprisingly a bump on Consulting Spend in the middle of a recruitment freeze. Cost reduction objective was then perfectly achieved.

Consulting Fees vs Consulting Expenses – the footprint

Keep in mind that most Consulting Projects separate the Consulting Fees from the Expenses of the Consulting Teams during work on the projects. If you are not cautious, you might end up paying up to an additional 30% of the total cost of your project only on expenses. If Consulting Fees are really tight, this ratio might end up being quite high. In this case, mostly make sure consultants are respecting your travel policies. There is nothing worse than consultants flying business while the rest of the company is in a travel ban.

If the entity selecting the Consulting Firms is based in Europe and tends to shop locally, every project in North America or Asia will have a premium attached to it. And don’t think that you are safe because you work with a large global Consulting Firm. Because most of them are set up with local P&Ls and are pressured to optimize their local resources, they would rather send their understaffed European resources than find local resources for your project.
When a Consulting Firm is charging more than others
When looking at the numbers, you realize that John Doe Consulting is charging 40% more than your other Consulting Providers on similar projects. Or maybe they are charging more only when working with Business Unit B, the most profitable of your BUs.

The scope and deliverables

Look closely at the scope and the deliverables of the projects. For broad projects with several phases, you can either contract in one large project and in several small projects following the phases. Another point you want to look at is the range of the projects. For instance, for a Lean Manufacturing project, one Business Unit might have decided to work on all the factories at the same time, when another one will work on a small pilot group, and then implement in the rest of the organization.

The complexity

The complexity of the project can also have an impact on the price. Maybe you are using John Doe Consulting only on more complex projects because they are knowledgeable and can mobilize a huge volume of expert resources in a short period of time. Obviously, this often comes at a premium. In the same way, if only a handful of companies can complete a given strategic project, supply and demand rules prevail.

The footprint

The footprint of the organization can also have an impact on the price of the projects, through the expenses as mentioned earlier. A business unit heavily centralized and solely based in one region will probably face lower Consulting Expenses than a Company based in several regions.

The price – value dilemma

Some Consulting Firms are just more expensive than others. The real question that you should ask yourself is: “What is worth the investment?”. Spending more is not always wrong if the return on investment is excellent. What matters most is the fit and the impact.

The Culture

If your teams are culturally homogeneous, or on the contrary, extremely diverse, the performance evaluation will probably not be impacted by individual cultural differences. However, if your Business Units have different cultural structures, then it might not make sense to compare the performance results from one with the other. In other words, your Brazil Headquartered BU will probably have better scores, independently of the latest results of the soccer team.

The quality of their providers

Lower-Performance scores can come from the quality of the providers. It can be linked to the quality of the local Consulting Market. The logic behind when you are sourcing the best providers for your direct business should also apply for your consulting expenses. The probability of finding them in a 5-mile radius is fairly poor. Having been classmates with one of the partners or belonging to the same baseball fan club is not much better.
When Department D works almost exclusively with one Consulting Firm
Working with familiar consultants is comfortable. The Consultants know very well your business, its complexity, and even internal politics. However, we are always amazed to see the same senior partner morphing from a pricing specialist to a lean expert or a digital guru. And if it was only the senior partner teaming with other qualified partners, but you see the same phenomenon at the principal and consultant level. Or simply put, always the same team, different color jerseys.
Here is an interesting take on expertise –

“Chess masters don’t evaluate all the possible moves. They know how to discard 98% of the ones they could make and focus on the best choice of the remaining lot. That’s the way expertise works in other fields too: Wise practitioners recognize familiar patterns and put their creativity, improvisation, and skill towards the marginal cases.” – John Dickerson.

So now you know who is spending and why. Now what?
There is a myriad of ways to approach this challenging situation. What really drives the way forward is the sense of urgency you have. Here are four from the simplest to the most disruptive.
1) Implement a systematic competition policy to keep providers on their toes.
2) Centralize consulting budgets in each business line to align priorities.
3) Set a ceiling in consulting spend per unit vs historical or top line.
4) Implement a demand management process to match spend and ROI.

Agree? Disagree? How does your Consulting Spend look like?
Don’t hesitate to reach out and share your experience.
We love to hear from you.

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