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How to Best Define Your Procurement Strategy: Pillars & Pitfalls

Working with consultants can bring in tremendous benefits, but if you don't know how to manage the procurement process, the results might be far from satisfactory. A first scan of your expenses, where the observation period will be the previous fiscal year, will give you a good basis for slicing and dicing the information. Having this structured data will allow you to understand the patterns of your Consulting Spend. You can capture quick gains, get the buy-in of your employees and embark on a self-funded journey.

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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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Optimize the Ups and Minimize the Downs of Your Procurement Capability Journey

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

 “Strategy without process is little more than a wish list.” – Robert Filek

In this post, we will focus on helping you get a clear perspective on the stages of maturity of your Consulting Procurement Capability – from the starting point to the best-in-class maturity level.

Optimize your Consulting Spend

Knowing exactly what benefits you are getting from your projects and providers, is essential in managing your Consulting spend.

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Defining where you want to go next –

For Large companies – the best-in-class maturity level should be the end-game in the transformation journey. They are already familiar with Strategic Sourcing, Demand Management, and Category Management. They are spending hundreds of millions of dollars every year on Consulting Projects and can get significant savings and quality improvement by implementing best-in-class Consulting Procurement practices.
For Mid-Market Companies, spending roughly $5M to $30M in Consulting every year, the aim should be somewhere between the Best-in-Class and the Leading Maturity Level or rely on third-party services to make the extra mile.
For Smaller Companies, spending less than $5M a year, the Leading Maturity level is a good start. If the company has not implemented Category Management yet, the Consulting Category can be integrated as part of a more ambitious project on the full Procurement Scope.

Consulting Procurement Organizations should aim to reach a high level of maturity.
The benefits that come with it are:

Use of best-in-class practices
Utilize significant efficiency gains for the Procurement group and company

Now, let’s take a look at the Maturity Grid, which is a great way to measure your current Procurement Capability –
Your starting point –
The purpose of the Consulting Procurement Maturity grid is to help organizations understand where they are today, where they should go in the future, the value of doing so, and how to get there.
The Maturity Grid – 4 Levels of Consulting Procurement Capability –
Each level has its strengths and weaknesses that need to be understood.

Basic or Operational Level –

At that level, the Consulting Category is not managed. The organization is leaving value on the table.
The organization has not implemented specific processes for Consulting Services and the decision-making for Consulting is often decentralized. The Procurement Group is involved at the last stage of the process if at all. The Supplier selection is based on interpersonal connections.
The potential for savings and improvement are significant, but not utilized.

Standard Level –

The Organization is starting to manage the category. They have developed specific processes to manage the Consulting Category and implemented Demand management for projects over a certain threshold. Suppliers are chosen through competitive bidding 50% of the time.
The consulting Spend is under control. The organization sees the value of managing the Consulting Category. The strategic value gap begins closing as the capabilities for Consulting Procurement start to increase. Teams have developed a basic understanding of the specificity of the Consulting Market – with critical value utilized by knowing things can be improved.

Leading Level –

The Leading Organization has put in place a solid Category Management for Consulting Services. The teams have developed a good market knowledge supporting sourcing and negotiations. Procurement is involved in most purchases and most suppliers are chosen through a competition.
The organization is one step shy of having a fully mature Consulting Procurement Capability. The strategic framework to make this happen is complete, and the organization is ready to begin implementing the next level.

Best-in-Class –

The Best-in-Class Organization has developed a fully mature Consulting Procurement Capability. This is truly evolved and highly efficient organization in its Procurement Capability maturity.
The Consulting Spend and the Consulting Sourcing Strategy are aligned with the strategic priorities of the organization. Procurement is recognized as a full business partner for the Consulting Category and leads a collaborative approach to Consulting Sourcing.
The teams have now an advanced understanding of the market including alternatives, fees benchmark and new entrants. They manage the Performance of their suppliers through systematic performance reviews and continuous improvement plans with long-term partners.
The ROI of projects and the internal team satisfaction have greatly increased.
Key Areas in Your Consulting Procurement to pay attention to, as per the Maturity Grid:
Strategy, Governance & Organization

Sourcing Process
Enablers (Manuals, Guidelines, and Systems)
Category Management

The following questions can get you started:

Is your Consulting Spend aligned with your strategy?
Do you have a procurement team or person focusing on Consulting?
Do you have a collaborative approach to Consulting sourcing lead by your procurement teams?
To what extent do you organize competition between providers for your projects?
Do you implement differentiated sourcing processes by nature of project for the consulting category?
Do you track the performance of your Consulting Providers?
Do you leverage category-specific digital solutions for the Consulting category?
How knowledgeable are your Procurement teams on the Consulting market?
Do you consider creative fee structures for your projects?
Do you have a make-or-buy strategy for the Consulting Category?

 We hope being equipped with these tools will allow you to easily understand the Procurement Capability level of your organization and set your strategic goals accordingly.

Do you want to discuss further on the Consulting Sourcing Maturity?
Would like to get a fresh perspective on your next Consulting sourcing? Do not hesitate to contact us today.
We are here to help and make sure you get the best value from your Consulting.

Book your call

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These 5 Key Levers Can Help you Boost the ROI of your Consulting Spend

 “All too many consultants when asked, ‘What is 2 and 2?’ respond, ‘What do you have in mind?'” – Norman Ralph Augustine.

 

Knowing exactly what benefits you are getting from your projects and providers, is essential in managing your Consulting spend. And Consultants you choose to work with can differ quite a lot in the tangible and intangible benefits they bring in.
Who spends money? How did they decide to spend with a particular consulting firm?
And having answered these questions still does not mean this was a good investment. After you have mapped your consulting spend, you can start building an improved consulting sourcing capability and rake the quick wins.

Optimize your Consulting Spend

You have decided to grow your Consulting Procurement Capability, the first thing you need to look at is analyzing your Consulting Spend that will allow you to establish your baseline.
Read More

There are a few key levers to improve the ROI of your Consulting Spend:
 

Improve Your Sourcing Process –

Among the key success factors for a project, being outsourced or not, is the clarity of the scope and objectives, and the talent of the team.To maximize the chances of success of your project, you need to make sure that you have a great RFP that states clearly the context of the project, the goals, and deliverables of the project. Be careful to describe the results you are expecting and not necessarily the means to get them.Another important aspect is to put your consultants in competition when it is relevant (hint: most of the time). One Consulting Firm can be great on a project, but not the best choice for the next project. Besides, you might want to look at new ideas or compare other approaches.

Implement Demand Management –

You will need to take control of your expenses, in particular when you have a decentralized procurement process for Consulting Services.

Loud statements of intent are very rarely efficient. You need to have a clearly defined, objective decision-making process to make sure the budget for Consulting is spent on your priorities.Demand Management will help you balance and strategically align demand with your consulting budget.A simple scan of your consulting expenses can open the door to significant quick gains and value creation. We would like to show you in future posts, how to capture this value early in the process.

Check Consultants’ Qualifications –

First things first – was the firm qualified to do the job? Have they understood the problem you were trying to solve? Have they worked well with your teams? And last but not least, what was the impact and the return on investment?
Collect some information about the Consulting Firm structure, in particular, the partner and/or the project manager in charge.
As you can see, it is not that complex to be on top of your Consulting spend and easily evaluate Consultants’ performance.
Once you have understood your Consulting Spend and assessed the Performance of your Consulting suppliers, you can start generating the Quick gains.

Define Consultants’ Performance Criteria –

Knowledge and Experience in the field – Did they have enough and relevant expertise in solving your specific issues? Or they did lack such experience?
How do you rate their ability to adapt knowledge and experience to the assignments in your case? Did they complete all tasks as per your standards and satisfactory?
Initiative and Proactivity – Did they propose any useful innovations? Were they proactive in solving issues?
Productivity and Efficiency – Did they complete all tasks in the terms and the deadlines set out in the agreement?
Cooperation and Teamwork Attitude – It’s important to establish a positive and cohesive work environment for all team members, to set the tone for a smooth and productive process.
Quality of Work and Services delivered – Carefully and honestly assess the quality of work performed by the Consultants, and have a clear, objective basis to evaluate growth, benefits, and improvement they provided, and are responsible for. If there is any area or aspect of the performance you are not happy about, communicate that in a constructive manner useful to both parties.

Utilize Quick Gains at an Early Stage –

Assuming you’ve done the right things, follow the steps below to capture the quick gains.

Leverage your data – Slice, Dice, See Patterns

You are now ready to define several corrective actions that will get you immediate results and savings.
Slice, dice, find patterns and identify outliers. Is there a Function or a Business Unit spending way more money on consulting? You might also find that some Consulting Providers are 2 times more expensive than others on similar projects, or that the same Consulting Firms is charging more in Europe than in North America.
Understanding your portfolio of projects gives you the cards to define the basis for improving your sourcing. You can identify segments, and identify thresholds. If you have an Internal Consulting Group, you can explore how your teams work with this group. Why do your teams work with them (or not)? How is their pricing compared to External Providers? Do they collaborate properly?

Know Your Panel of Consulting Firms Well –

It’s important to look at both the Demographic and the Performance Components. You can improve this panel by getting rid of the low-performers, bringing in new blood, playing on supplier diversity, and identifying potential synergies across groups and business units.
Last, you can refine the analysis of your Consulting Spend, and focus on the elements that are crucial for your Company. This regular analysis can become a long-term monitoring of your Consulting Expenses.

Do you want to learn more about how to analyze your Consulting Spend?
Would like to get a fresh perspective on your next Consulting sourcing? Do not hesitate to contact us today.
We are here to help and make sure you get the best value from your Consulting.

Book your call

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6 Reasons Why Analyzing Your Consulting Spend Will Make You a Pro at Buying Consulting

You have decided to grow your Consulting Procurement Capability, the first thing you need to look at is analyzing your Consulting Spend that will allow you to establish your baseline.
Working with consultants can bring in tremendous benefits, but if you don’t know how to manage the procurement process, the results might be far from satisfactory.
 “Consultants have credibility because they are not dumb enough to work at your company.” – Scott Adams.
Sounds amusing, right? But all jokes aside, the task here is to show you how to design and apply an effective framework that screens your Consulting Spend based on three dimensions:

How much you are spending, on what and who is spending
How decisions about Consulting are made from inception to selection of a provider
What benefits you are getting from your projects and providers

Know the Consulting Category

The diversity of the Consulting providers in terms of size, and offerings is quite complex, and this makes buying Consulting services so tricky.
Read More

A first scan of your expenses, where the observation period will be the previous fiscal year, will give you a good basis for slicing and dicing the information. Having this structured data will allow you to understand the patterns of your Consulting Spend. You can capture quick gains, get the buy-in of your employees and embark on a self-funded journey.
6 Reasons why analyzing your Consulting Spend will help you buy better:

What is at stake –

Many Companies don’t have the overview of their consulting spend, and thus don’t see the interest of managing their Consulting Spend. Mapping all the expenses in Consulting will help you understand who is spending and how much. That will give a sense of the size of the prize, should you decide to change the way you manage the consulting category.

Why projects are launched –

Knowing who is buying the projects, and why did they buy it, will provide insights on the behaviors of your internal clients. How do they use Consulting? On what type of projects? What benefits were they expecting from working with external consultants?

Who are the internal stakeholders –

It’s essential to know who was involved, what department? Who was the point of contact? At what point in the process were they involved? Were there other stakeholders involved? They are your internal clients. The ones you will need to get on board when you start transforming your consulting procurement capability.

What is the Decision-making process –

Who is deciding? Who is paying? What were the validations required? Is there a different decision-making process based on the type of projects? What size? And who was the Project Sponsor? Allocating your resources on the right projects is key to leverage consulting to accelerate your transformation.

Is there a specific buying process?

Organizing a competition between providers is the best way to find the right consultancy. Was the competition relevant? Is there a threshold under which there is no competition? Or a Unit that never organizes competition?

Who are your providers and how do they perform?

Knowing on whom you spend your money and how satisfactory was the work delivered, can get you closer to decide if this was a good investment. There are usually a few dimensions you want to evaluate your Consulting Providers on. Was the firm qualified to do the job? Have they understood the problem you were trying to solve? Have they worked well with your teams? And what was the impact, and the return on investment?
Use normalized data for a relevant analysis. And be aware that how you organize the data will have a great impact on the success of the project.
By giving you the insights based on our decades of experience, and case studies, we hope we’ve convinced you to apply efficiency and diligence in your next project, to rock Consulting buying like a pro!

Do you want to learn more on how to anlayze your Consulting Spend?
Would like to get a fresh perspective on your next Consulting sourcing? Do not hesitate to contact us today.
We are here to help, and make sure you get the best value from your Consulting.

Book your call

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3 Essentials When You Present Your Proposal to the Client

Sweat trickled down Bernie’s neck.
He sat in the lobby with his briefcase balanced on his knees, panicking.
His meeting with the client was scheduled for 3pm. It was now 3.09 and no sign of the client. None of this waiting around was doing his nerves any good. The longer he waited, the more time he had to forget his practiced lines and get his thoughts jumbled.
Bernie was a top-notch consultant. His clients loved him. Whether it was improving processes, cutting costs, or finding efficiencies in already super-streamlined processes; Bernie worked magic on his clients’ businesses.
His firm held him out to their other employees as the bright light; the example that everyone else should follow. They proudly shared feedback they had received from customers about the projects Bernie had worked on. Not a year had passed where Bernie hadn’t been the recipient of a huge bonus.
People who had worked with Bernie knew he was good, but they also knew about his weakness.
Bernie was deathly scared of public speaking. When it came time to do presentations, Bernie went from hero to zero. And this was a big problem… Because, for Bernie to work his consulting magic, he first had to present the client with a proposal and convince them that he had some magic tricks to share.
That’s where Bernie found himself right now. Sweating up a storm in the lead up to a presentation to convince a client he was the confident, self-assured guy for the job. The thought of “being confident” brought the sweat in gushes.
At 3.14 the receptionist called his name. “Apologies for the wait, Mr. Jones. Mr. Grisham will see you now in room 3.”
Bernie’s heart rate shifted from “fast” to “gallop”. He picked up his things, dropped his briefcase, picked it up again, and then made his way to meeting room 3.
*
Unless he’s very lucky, Bernie’s presentation is going to be a tough one. Have you ever found yourself in Bernie’s position? Feeling as though if you could just get past the presentation part, everything else would be a breeze?
Next time you have a proposal presentation coming up, focus less on your anxiety about public speaking and your fear around making mistakes. Focus instead on the people you are speaking to and how you can help them. This will not only improve your presentation, it will also reduce your nerves.
If you want to get your next proposal accepted by the client, here are 3 essentials for your presentation:
1. Empathize with your listeners
When you have a presentation to do it can be tempting to just want to “get it done”. You rush through it as fast as possible because you know you’re going to feel more comfortable when you get to the end.
There’s a big problem with this approach. You’re focused on yourself, not your audience.
When you focus on yourself in a presentation– how you feel, who’s judging you, how embarrassing this is –the message of who you care about is transmitted loud and clear to your audience.
When the audience understands you don’t care about them, and that you’re just trying to “get it done”, they disengage from you and your message.
To keep the audience with you, to influence and persuade them, you need to empathize with them.
That means focus on them. Forget about how you feel and focus on how they feel.
In the lead up to, and during, your presentation, think about the audience. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. When you do this your presentation will be better received.
2. Clearly outline the benefits of your proposal
If you don’t tell the client what’s in it for them you give them no reason to listen to you.
You start out with their undivided attention, so don’t squander it by not showing them explicitly how their lives will be better.
Talk about the benefits of your proposal rather than the features.
Let’s look at a TV remote as an example.
Imagine you’re selling TV remotes, back when they were first introduced.
Selling on features sounds like, “This button changes the channel. This button switches the TV on and off. The infra-red beam has a range of 10 feet.”
Selling on benefits sounds like, “Now when you want to change channels you can do it while you sit in your comfortable sofa, enjoying your beer.“
Benefits beat features because you’re building an image in your customer’s mind about how their life is going to improve.
3. Contrast before and after
Another way to paint a clear picture for your client is to contrast before and after.
Outline for your client the problems that they are currently experiencing and then show them what they can expect once they have accepted your proposal.
In summary, when you empathize with your client, you show them how they can benefit from your proposal, and you contrast before and after you set the stage for a winning bid.

How to enjoy the value creation process

Welcome Professionals…
…as a top management consultant, we all want to create perfect results for our clients. But striving for perfectionism can actually constrain our value creation process.
For a long time in consulting business, I concentrated on achieving perfect results. At my former employer, we were especially great at pointing the attention to areas that were not perfect, yet. Each time when my project leader or partner or eventually the client found some flaws in my work, I used to beat myself up for that. I interpreted every necessary additional iteration loop as a defeat. I was striving for perfectionism.
Years later I was able to discover the drivers behind this behaviour and change my point of view. I recognized that it makes me very unhappy over time to strive for the perfect end product. The end product will never be perfect and if it was, I would already be busy with the next big thing. By having this tendency, it would be impossible for me to stop working and feel satisfied about it.
Today my motivation is different. I commit to delivering the best value I can in a given amount of time. I set time slots for me to work on a specific project and then do the best I can. I embrace opportunities for iteration, because it helps me improve my work. As an additional positive effect, it takes my client on a journey through my value creation process. Communicating intermediate steps and results makes my client value the work much more.
Everyday I try hard to concentrate on the value creation process! I am not attempting to create a perfect end product, but to give my best. Hopefully, that comes close in the end.

Safari in Consulting #1: CAUSA Consulting

Company Background
CAUSA is a small management consultancy specialized in strategic consultancy, sales enablement and communication. with offices in Berlin, Brussels and Wiesbaden, the company has extensive experience working with clients in commerce and politics on a European scale as well as on an international basis.

The company’s activities focused on innovative growth strategies and their analytical, structure and communication-oriented aspects. Having an international network with consultants in Brussels, Copenhagen and Washington D.C., as well as other partner organizations guarantees qualified support on the spot and an on-going exchange of experience.
The staffs have many years of experience in the public sector, as well as knowledge and competence acquired in private enterprise. The company’s clients include international and export-oriented SMEs, public institutions and listed companies.

Interview with Dr. Schössler, Managing Partner, Co-Founder

With decades of experiences working in both the public and the private sector, I developed the expertise in commercial, industrial and political consultancy. I founded CAUSA to better assist both sides with their growth and development initiatives.

Dr. Martin Schössler
CEO of Managing Partner, Co-Founder

Why did you found CAUSA and what were you driven by?

While working for The Economist Intelligence Unit (Martin was responsible for the Government and Financial Sector in Germany) I noticed that many clients wanted to go “beyond thought leadership” and not solely rely on whitepapers and studies. I was driven by the interest to establish a novel, hybrid business model in between the private and public sector where strategy consulting and outreach measures can be brought to the full effect for our clients. We also followed the request of our first client, SAP, to help them position one of their products for the public sector.

How does the company keep its niche positioning in the market and continuously generate values?

We need to constantly innovate. Over the years we have continuously progressed in our portfolio which includes now also digital assets and brand / platform development (for example https://www.luftfahrtistinnovation.de/ ) and we have also been of course challenged in a positive way by our clients which have quite complex tasks at hand, operate in a global context and need to keep track with the digital transformation. Very often, for instance when we won our first mandate from a top global Chinese IT company, we had to very quickly deliver results while still getting to know the finer cultural aspects which are quite important when you work so closely together. We spend a lot of time looking for the right people for our organization and we have started to focus more on C-level assignments and larger transformative projects where we support our clients for several years, including sparring and coaching elements.

What is the top piece of insight you have for the Safari in consulting readers -many of them are executives of companies and consultancies?

The business impact of government is often overlooked, yet the second most impactful element when it comes to business success. Executives should spend more time with government representatives and vice versa, the cultural divide is surprisingly large and growing due to the ongoing specialization in both sectors. The public sector is also a much more interesting and rewarding client when it comes to services and products that can be offered from the private sector in contrast to the public image. It is also able to provide an excellent context to large-scale implementation of new services and platforms, especially in IT which at this scale is simply not possible in the private sector. So at first i would suggest raising the level of interaction with public sector and government representatives, and second increase the effort to sell to the public sector – the reward will be substantial and also the learning when it comes to societal and foreign policy and security policy issues.

How do you see the future of CAUSA? What hopes/expectations do you have for the company?

We will further expand our portfolio to establish our own platform where we can deliver much improved law impact prognosis for our clients, organized in agenda streams, like automotive etc. This will be a separate business that we will launch in 2018, so we are happy to welcome the first beta testers from early summer. My aim is also to add more skilled partners at the company and expand our business to add mandates in the SME space. We will also expand our sales enablement platform where we have generated substantial new mandates which we will be able to announce in April.

Lastly, what advice do you have for students who are hoping to launch a career in Consulting?

Try to establish your own business before joining a larger firm or work / serve in a versatile field like government or even sports or the military. Also, in your studies, don´t stop at the Bachelor level and do a maximum of two – but meaningful – internships. Try to publish your ideas on how to improve specific items of public interest and engage in political debates early on to get an impression of the full societal spectrum. Also, everything you ever thought about as a kid is now possible as a job ,-)

For more information about the company, visit http://www.causa-c.de.
Are you a niche consulting firm that would like to be featured? Or do you know any interesting consulting firms we should reach out to? Let us know! Contact us at: info@consultingquest.com
For more specialist consulting firms, you can check out our Global Directory –with over 3000+ consulting firms around the world.

Go to the Global Directory

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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.

Connect with other Consulting Buyer to step up your game

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

Source Consultants

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

Read More

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

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

Consulting Playbook: The Importance of Trust and Trustworthiness for a Successful Merger

The Consulting Playbook, Edition #4
Trust is understandably considered one of the building blocks in every successful team and organization. And the lack of trust will therefore present a major obstacle to most operations. In case of mergers, the issue becomes even more substantial and often challenging.
Overcoming Cultural Differences for a Smooth Merger –
When two large global mobility solutions providers merged, each organization had its own successful operating model. Their cultural values presented a concern to executives who thought the two might not get smoothly integrated and impede the merger. An in-depth analysis of the two operating models was conducted to identify strengths and weaknesses of each party. These findings built the foundation for developing new operating systems. All concerns were openly addressed to make sure differences would be resolved to facilitate the integration process.
Establishing a Productive Dialogue with All Parties –
In order to address each party’s points and criticism, and ensure the smoothest merger, the Consultant needed to complete a comparative analysis of each organization’s cultural DNA, their key management, values and behavioral characteristics.
Being an expert in the field, the Consultant developed a pre-defined interview protocol that included questions on activities, restrictions, rules and procedures, cultural norms, and the perceived pros and cons of the merger. The interviews were confidential, and proved to be extremely useful in conducting an alignment session for each Executive Committee. New operating models were discussed and shared with staff and management teams. The Consultant established a dedicated Steering Committee to determine: corporate center, centralization, control, new decision-making procedure, executive behavior, and responsibilities’ delegation.
The Impact on the Business Achieved the Following:

Resolution of many initial differences
Shared agreement about cultural gaps endorsed by both executive teams
The merger risks were sufficiently reduced throughout the remaining phases of the effort

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Additional Information

Trust concerns within an organization can arise for many reasons. As part of the overall organization’s culture, trust is the bond that connects departments, team members, leadership and employees. An organization with a high level of trust behaves in a trustworthy fashion, and merits the trust of all its employees and business partners alike.
How Do We Promote Trust?
Some of the most effective principles in building a culture of trust are:

Competence Trust – Allowing each team member to make their own decisions, express their opinions, and value their input
Contractual Trust – Consistency in keeping agreements, commitments and defining and delivering on expectations.
Communication Trust – Openly sharing information and providing constructive feedback

And What About Trustworthiness?
There are 4 Main Aspects to Look at When Trying to Define an Organization’s Trustworthiness:

Serving Clients – Focus and strive to best serve clients, not just aim at making money. Your employees should genuinely believe that this is your core purpose and share the same vision which goes beyond sales and profits.
Collaborative team environment – As an executive, don’t be tempted to just manage others. Many achievements are a product of a team play and effective collaboration.
Transparency – There is no trust if there are secrets. Avoid any hidden agendas, and practice openness to sustain trustworthiness.
Long-term Perspective – Building trust is all about consistency over a period of time. You need to deliver on your promise time and time again. Sales might be transactional, but you need to develop long-term relationships.

For further reading:
– Trusted to Lead: Trustworthiness and its Impact on Leadership
– The Enemies of Trust
– Trust Rules: The Most Important Secret About Trust

t

About The Consulting Playbook

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

Prepare your teams for when the Consultant leaves

You have decided to pivot to a consultant to bridge your company’s skills gaps, better optimize your profits, or boost your marketing and sales effectiveness. As an experienced executive, you completely get that you need a discrete plan—with its clear timelines and goals—and a winning RFP to attract the right partners in the first place.
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.
After all, procuring a consultant is an investment and the return on that investment comes through the follow-up. Here are the seven most helpful tips for optimizing the return on your consulting procurement.
1. Aim beyond the project.
Envision what success will look like. No, not at the end of the project—longer-term.
Picture someone about to break a block of wood or concrete with a karate chop. If he aims for the block, he instinctually will start to draw back a bit just as he is about to make contact with the block. Now picture him focusing a foot past the block as he aims, then chops. Crack!
Aim past the project. That will help begin to mark the right follow-up path.

Use Consulting Strategically

(…) the procurement process doesn’t stop with the order. To be successful, it should be a long-term process that goes beyond the moment the contract is signed.

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2. Plan the transition from the RFP.
Remember, the RFP is all about procuring solutions, not just making a purchase. With that in mind, think long-term and include the ways to determine whether project goals were met and additional consulting support is needed once the consultant leaves.

Keep in touch. Executives and consultants should keep in touch to ensure that the consultant’s recommended systems and ideas work to resolve the original issue.

Yes, we’re talking about data collection—evidence that the new knowledge and systems work, fail, or result in zero changes that are meaningful. Build in the collecting of data points during the project for three to six months, or even a year afterward.

The data points need to measure the extent to which the solution you were aiming for does exist. You or the consultant can analyze these data as a way to determine project success, failure, or status quo, as well as the next steps to take
Include a compliance check within the RFP. Once the original project ends, the consultant should schedule a return visit to determine to what extent your team absorbed new lessons and how well new systems are being incorporated as intended.
The last deliverable could actually be the proposed way forward.

3. Decision time: figure out which recommendations to keep.
Just because you paid a consultant to address a gap and offer a solution does not mean that your company needs to jump in blindly.
The company’s senior executives can sift through the consultant’s suggestions and cherry-pick the ones that are most likely to solve the issue at hand.
Once that sifting occurs, meet with the consultant for feedback on what your team has chosen as the wheat and what’s the chaff. After all, the consultant may have experience with what result can occur (positive or negative) if recommendation A is kept but recommendation B is tossed.
4. Know the what, the how and the who before the consultant exits.
Clarity with regard to the next steps is key. Knowing what to do but not how to do it is a roadblock to success.
Before the consultant departs, take the time to make sure that everyone affected knows what to do next, and how to do it and that the appropriate resources will be allocated.

The combination of the what to do and the how to do it makes the difference between a return on the consulting investment or a loss. It’s not enough that employees just understand. The rubber won’t meet the road if they can’t also implement what they know they need to do.

Plan ahead to build in ways to manage implementation and potential failures.

Who will be accountable for implementing the plan? How will the activity be steered?
Who will be responsible for correcting implementation issues? How often and by what method will that person be accessible?

5. Plan to retain learned knowledge and skills.
Whether it’s staff turnover or vacation time, new skills can get lost in life’s shuffle. You need a plan to keep that new information at the forefront of employees’ work.

Is transferring knowledge explicitly part of the mandate?
Will you offer annual refresher courses? Online manuals? Access to the consultant via email or web forum? All of the above?

Will there be a mentoring relationship for an extended timeframe once the project ends? Mentoring often makes the difference between long-term ROI or loss on consulting investments. Just be sure to structure the arrangement with a timeline and clear data points for ending the mentorship.

6. Keep the door open to transformational ideas.
You know what often happens when you focus for a time on a project and then step away. New, perhaps even transformational ideas may pop up unexpectedly.

Depending on how your company is structured, novel ideas can float up to your senior team or through your project team. Or perhaps the consultant experiences a couple of brainstorms once the project has ended.

You will want access to these raw new ideas. Coming on the heels of intense project focus, they may contain just the right germ of an idea that, when shaped and cultivated, can provide an unforeseen breakthrough that boosts your competitive edge.

Explicitly create the potential for following up with the consultant on promising innovative ideas and approaches after the initial project ends.

7. Build in check-ins as a forcing function.
Finally, assuming that you found the consulting team helpful, build in check-ins at the frequency that matches your business tempo to take a fresh look at what was accomplished and perhaps what needs to be tweaked now to continue to optimize the original investment. These build-in check-ins as forcing function will also prevent business as usual from taking over.
Procuring the consultant and working through the project aren’t the goals. Sustainable solutions that boost your competitive edge are the goals.
Meeting those goals requires you to lead the company through a follow-up phase once the consulting team leaves to ensure the highest return on your consulting investment.

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

t

About The Consulting Playbook

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

How to Maximize Your Potential as a Preferred Consultant

There are a variety of reasons people become a consultant. Flexibility, networking, and the excitement of always doing something different are just a few reasons. But along with these benefits comes the risk of not having work for periods of time. To minimize that risk, it is important to make sure that you are a preferred consultant. Here are the 10 commandments of a great consultant, to maximize your potential:
1. Thou shalt be flexible.
Flexibility extends beyond your day-to-day schedule. In order to be a great consultant who constantly has work, you need to be willing to adapt to new projects, cultures, and work constraints. The same thing that worked for one job won’t necessarily work for all jobs. It’s crucial for a great consultant to be flexible by listening to its customer, thinking outside the box and developing new solutions to problems. Likewise, your schedule should be flexible enough to allow for working odd hours, and meeting your clients out of working hours such as nights and weekends at times. Ultimately, isn’t this flexibility and control over your agenda what is really great about being a consultant?
2. Thou shalt adapt to new colleagues.
It’s important to be able to work with many different types of personalities if you want to succeed as a consultant. While one of the benefits of consulting is the excitement of working in new environments, it can also be one of the greatest challenges, since every new environment comes with a new group of colleagues. You will meet people who are combative, passive, easy going, and everything in between. You will even have to forge good working relationships with people who are not colleagues, but who have in-between positions, and you must be able to work with them efficiently. You have the ear of the boss, but you have to be able to work well on the ground, too. Being able to successfully navigate different personalities will enhance your abilities as a consultant.

3. Thou shalt be disciplined.
Working a flexible schedule can be great, but it can also pose the very real challenge of discipline. In order to be an effective consultant, you must be able to work diligently on projects by creating a schedule that will allow you the time and resources that you need to complete a project on time. Your main task as a consultant is to solve problems quickly and efficiently. Knowing how to get in, lend your expertise and advice on a project, and get out quickly is crucial to your success.
4. Thou shalt collaborate.
You need to be collaborative as a consultant, even if you prefer to work mainly on your own or as a leader. Listening to problems and working to develop a solution that will solve those problems means you need to collaborate. Great consultants are team players. So don’t hesitate to share your knowledge. Part of good collaboration is speaking up, as well as listening. It can only have a positive impact on your work and your reputation. Companies will return again and again to consultants who took the time to listen to the company’s problems, who showed initiative, and who worked with key company players to develop a solution.
5. Thou shalt be confident.
Companies generally turn to consultants when they’re faced with a challenge that they just can’t overcome. They’ll feel encouraged when a consultant enters who expresses confidence that she can fix the problem. Do not hesitate to ask questions to get to the bottom of the problem but rely on your experience and knowledge to get through a new challenge, and remind yourself that you’re qualified for the task at hand.

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…as a top management consultant, we all want to create perfect results for our clients. But striving for perfectionism can actually constrain our value creation process.

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6. Thou shalt admit your own limitations.
As a consultant, it can seem contradictory to fall short on knowing everything related to your projects. However, skirting around a decision because of your lack of knowledge can backfire big time for you and for your client. Don’t be afraid to admit when you don’t know something, but be sure to follow up with someone who does. As a consultant, you have a different network and are more likely to find a reliable source who does know the answer to the problem. What matters is to solve your clients problem not to be the one solving it.
7. Thou shalt keep learning.
Your work as a consultant doesn’t end when a project is finished. Great consultants are experts in their fields, which means they are always on top of the latest research and studies. Subscribe to journals, attend conferences, and find other ways to keep current within your chosen field. Remember, you are filling in the gaps for companies, and that includes a detailed knowledge of recent developments in your discipline.
8. Thou shalt listen first and speak second.
Great consultants understand that their main job is to solve a problem for a company, but the only way to really understand the problem is to listen. Take the time to listen during meetings, and ask questions to ensure that you truly understand what the company wants from you. By listening and being observant, you will better understand the balance of powers, and you can identify allies. In the end, companies trust consultants who spend a little extra time getting to know the company and the specific issue before diving in with a solution.
9. Thou shalt clarify expectations.
Every company has a different relationship with consultants. Some companies expect a consultant to jump in and take over, while others micromanage. Be upfront with the company about expectations, and be honest about what you can deliver before starting a job. This will save many headaches for you and the company, and will ensure that you can be as effective as possible during the project.
10. Thou shalt know when to walk away.
You can only do so much as a consultant. When a client decides to ignore all of your advice and ends up not implementing anything you have suggested, then it’s time to walk away. Understand that you are a consultant and not a member of the company, and that your advice and suggestions are merely that. The company is under no obligation to actually implement your ideas. Also, if you think that your experience simply cannot bring the company more value, it’s best to prepare for the transition and just go. Sometimes, the right move is to walk away from a project and look ahead to a new one.
Each client for whom you work is a new opportunity to network, to better your communication methods, to learn new skills and to hone old ones. At the end of the day, what really matters is the value that you bring to your clients and the strength of the relationship you will build with them. The first, will give you the satisfaction of a job well done but the second beyond the immediate impact on your bottom line will help you reputation and establish recurring revenue streams.

Consulting Playbook: Boosting Accounting System to Increase Revenues

The Consulting Playbook, Edition #27
A new company focused on providing advanced manufacturing capabilities to aviation engine production companies needed to improve accounting systems and obtain startup capital. The company opted to use consultant’s help to develop financial accountability systems compliant with financing organizations oversight requirements, and to assist them with large negotiations related to the start-up funding.
Assessing the System in Place
First an assessment of the current accounting system capabilities was carried out. A thorough understanding of the additional reporting systems had to be made, and to figure out what was needed to meet the financing requirements. Subsequently – the options for off-the-shelf solutions were further evaluated. Findings on ROI and capabilities were presented to the CEO for approval. The unsuccessful off-the-shelf solutions that failed to bring in sufficient ROI had to be revised, and a new customized solution was requested by the CEO. An additional Excel reporting system was set up, using output from the accounting system which made it easier for users. The project’s closure consisted of standard work on how to interact with the Excel based project cost analysis system.
The Successfully Adopted New Methods Brought in Results
The Consulting project managed to deliver great benefits to the company where both accounting and reporting financial systems enabled a macro and a micro level financial analysis for each of their projects. The company also received several million dollars in startup funding.

Additional Information

The Importance of Accounting Software & Systems in Boosting Efficiency and ROI
Choosing the best Accounting systems and processes that fit your organization’s needs, and regularly looking for updates, should be a priority for today’s businesses. Here are some important features and issues to consider when evaluating the current Accounting program and methods:

Always be updated on the latest federal regulations demanding greater transparency and disclosure. You cannot afford to bypass these.
With the right accounting software your business will accelerate most of its operations, including better accuracy and reporting.
The power to collect and assimilate high-quality, up-to-date information, and send it to the right people at the right time gives your company a valuable, incalculable advantage in this era of regulatory scrutiny of financial statements.
Upgrading your current system will undoubtedly result in better ROI when done correctly. This is a driving factor for majority of organizations. A new Accounting system typically will pay for itself within few years after implemented.
To ensure higher ROI, you need to consider the following: the software and systems are tailored specifically to your industry; to the size of your company; the more functions you can delegate to it such as billing, human resource, etc., the less data inaccuracies will be, and your overall operations will be closer to a complete data integration.
Centralizing the company’s structure by incorporating more branches and departments into a single system, will save you a huge amount of time and money.

  For Further Reading:

A Return on Investment as a Metric for Evaluating
Improving Your Accounting System
How to Increase Profitability through Efficiency

t

About The Consulting Playbook

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

How to choose between Generalist or Specialist Consultants?

Executives often wonder how to approach the decision to hire a consultant who specializes in one aspect of their industry, or a consultant who has proven results in most areas, but who doesn’t have any specific niche experience. After all, the population of consultants has exponentially increased in response to corporate belt-tightening in the area of permanent staffing.
If you’re looking for the right consultant, there are several factors that will help you decide whether a specialist or a generalist is right for your needs. First of those considerations are the pros of both types. But there are also some important decisions you’ll need to make before you start searching.

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So, if you’re wondering how to find a consultant who can provide the outcome you’re looking for, here are a few tips
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Strategic Considerations
Before you begin your search for the consultant who best fits your needs and your company’s needs, there are two important things you must do:

Be clear about the problem you are trying to solve by hiring a consultant.

The more clearly you understand the problem you’re facing, and the better you can articulate it, the better equipped you’ll be to make the decision between a generalist and a specialist.

Balance your resource allocation.

You want to procure the right consultant to create new solutions—not to create new financial problems. And obviously, correctly identifying the problem helps balance your resource allocation. Misidentifying your problem can be costly: remember that old saying, “We cut it three times and it’s still too short?”
Consultants—whether generalists or specialists—essentially have one strategic function: optimizing your ROI or expanding your customer base. The consultant you select must understand that she is fulfilling that function, and bring to the table the skillset and experience that will address one of those strategic functions.
Which projects are generalists best for? Which projects are specialists right for? Here’s a rundown of the pros and cons of each:

The Generalist
Generalists, broadly speaking, tend to work in smaller, boutique consulting firms, but also play strong roles in large, global consulting firms. They may be new to consulting or new to the business world, but not necessarily. Typically they have broad-based knowledge and a willingness to adapt flexibly to an enterprise’s needs. Here are the main characteristics of generalist consultants:

They work well in teams, especially with other generalists, as they tend to have strengths in seeing both the forest and the trees, and the interrelationships between the two. In other words, they can connect the dots between the problem you are trying to solve and how potential solutions may affect the rest of your enterprise.

They tend to be a good fit for broader, larger-scale consulting projects for that reason: their types of experiences lead directly to their ability to connect all the dots and offer the most fitting solution.

Generalists excel at analysis, whether the presented problem is the “real” one to be solved or whether it is masking an underlying issue that needs to be solved first.

On the solutions side, generalists may have experience with a range of types of solutions. They tend not to offer cookie-cutter fixes. Instead, they custom tailor a solution for your enterprise. As a bonus, they may be able to draw upon former experience and apply it to current your problem in a way that is innovative.

Generalists may want to solve by themselves issues that could be better addressed by specialist consultants, and thus lack the right knowledge and/or expertise.
They might prove to be a costly solution if their contribution is limited to managing other consultants on your behalf

To sum up, generalists are effective in teams and ideal at tailoring solutions, especially for management-level issues or larger-scale, complex projects. Note, too, that if you think a longer-term partnership with a consultant is on the horizon, go with a generalist who can always find a specialist when needed.
The Specialist
Specialists typically have chosen to concentrate their efforts and abilities in a more narrow arena such as energy, IT, or finance, or in a particular industry, such as healthcare or pharmaceuticals. Many specialists have jumped from years of employment in their field of expertise to the world of consulting.
Major consulting firms usually have a range of specialists who are highly trained and deeply experienced in their chosen fields, but boutique firms also may specialize in a given industry or knowledge field. Here are some of the key benefits that specialists can bring to the table:

Specialists are passionate about their field or industry. They keep current on new findings and industry news. They understand the competitive pressures within their specialized industry.

They also provide solutions for enterprises. With their high levels of training and experience, specialists may be able to zoom in on and implement solutions quickly, which may conserve resources for the company.
Specialists love to transfer their knowledge, and will immediately be recognized by your teams on a dimension they comprehend.
They can see all problems through their area of expertise. As popularized by Abraham Maslow, “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”.
Specialists will bring to you the state of the industry but might reuse at least for statistic purposes some of your data. That is the unsaid rule of the game.

The key to successfully using a specialist is the executive’s ability to correctly identify and articulate the problem that needs a resolution. If the scope of the problem is limited to the rapid advancement of IT changes, for instance, a specialist is the natural place to turn. If the problem at hand is limited to circuit board assembly supply chains, turning to an industry specialist makes great sense in terms of both outcomes and resources.
Ultimately, there is a role for both generalists and specialists in the world of consulting. Each type of consultant successfully helps executives find solutions, given the right situation.
Take heart if you find yourself at a crossroads and need to turn to a consultant. There is great news: a consulting brokerage firm has already done all the heavy lifting of assessing a wide range of high-quality consulting firms globally to fit every type of enterprise, budget, and project. They can be a savior in assisting you to select the right type of consulting firm.
Executives who initially turn to a global consulting brokerage company may find they assistance they need to identify which type of consultant will be most likely to optimize ROI or expand their customer base.
Consulting Quest specializes in identifying consulting solutions that boost your competitive edge. Let us know how we can assist you.

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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.

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