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4 Practical Strategies to put your Consulting Spend back on tracks

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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What Happens Once You Diversify and Optimize Your Consulting Providers’ Panel?

“The core of the consulting business is going in and essentially making yourself indispensable by eating the brain of the organization, meaning consultants go in and assume key functions in the organization.” – Matthew Stewart

You might or might not have an official list of preferred suppliers, but most likely you have consulting firms that you work regularly with. We will refer to them as your panel, just to simplify things. So now, let’s see how to upgrade and prepare the right panel for your future challenges.
Most Companies work with consultants to access their skills and experience that are not available In-house.
One of the main procedures to do is a Performance Diagnosis, that will allow you to measure the Performance of each of your suppliers and identified the high- and low-performers.
Rationalizing Your Panel –
#1- Let Go of Low-performers –
This is a no-brainer. You don’t want to work with Consultants that are not delivering the results expected. Get rid of the companies that are consistently underperforming.
When the feedback is alternating from good to bad, try to identify a pattern.
The poor feedbacks are on the same type of projects. They don’t have good results when they work in a hostile environment. Or they don’t really do well with very operational teams. Maybe you shouldn’t consider them for these projects in the future.
Only one of the Consulting partners has low-performance. Why not ask to work exclusively with the partners that have positive feedback?

Create Value Through Consulting

Looking at your Consulting Spend as a whole doesn’t always bring enough information to identify trends and patterns. 

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#2 – Lack of Bench Is Not an Issue –
It’s best to avoid tying yourself to only one supplier on your strategic needs. Think Supplier Risk management and apply the same sound principles than for other purchases.
Besides, each Consulting Firms have a different DNA profile and a different portfolio of projects at which they excel.
Find 2 or 3 different Consulting Firms for each strategic need. You might end up with the same supplier for several needs, and that is fine. And competition will keep all providers on their toes.
#3 – Identity Rising Stars on Your Team –
You will probably realize that you need to find new Consulting Providers for some strategic needs. When you are screening for new profiles, don’t forget that you only want high-performers. Ask for references and check them or ask a third-party to do so (when references are with competitors, or if you want to remain anonymous). Make sure they have done projects that are relevant to the said strategic need.
#4 – Diversify and Expand Your Sourcing –
Lack of actual knowledge of the current Consulting market leads many Executives into sourcing locally for their Consulting Projects. It’s also a fact of life that most sourcing is based on word of mouth and personal networks.

But you need to know that the Consulting Industry is not one homogeneous block. There some regional specificities, including on the capabilities. If you are looking for Operational Excellence Experts, you might have a look at Europe where companies are more mature in that field. For Leadership capabilities, on the other hand, you should explore the other side of the pond, where North American firms are more numerous and experienced.
Besides, you might need Consultants in locations that are on the other side of the globe. Will you have your Consultants travel thousands of kilometers to work on a project? Or should you just find Consulting Firms in any part of the world, when they best match your project’s needs? You know the answer.
#5 – Hunt for Freshness of Ideas –
Another key winning component is the freshness of ideas. Independently from the performance of your existing Consulting Providers, you might want to bring in new blood and fresh ideas. The Consulting Industry is constantly evolving, and new concepts are emerging. To stay current on the innovation trends disrupting your market, for instance, you want to look at the emerging players to test them out on projects.
Focus on Developing Synergies –
An interesting insight of the portfolio of projects is the potential synergies between different groups or business units, in particular for smaller projects.
For instance, you might find that you bought several times more or less the same project in different parts of your organization. Depending on the feasibility, you might consider grouping these needs in the future and organize a joint competition.
You might also realize that the same Consulting Firm sold more or less the same project in different business units. Putting all the projects together would have helped you to increase your bargaining power and get better prices.
Last, if one part of your organization has a high-performer of a specific type of Consulting Project, while its neighbor had a low-performer, you probably want them to share the love (while you take out the low-performer from your panel).
So, we just described a best-case scenario, the steps, and the approach you can take.
 The results will be worth the effort! As extra value and savings are generated, you will be jumpstarting your transformation.
This is the most efficient way to win the buy-in of the stakeholders and to fund the desired transition.
The next step is to hire a data scientist, get started on crunching the numbers, add a pinch of artificial intelligence and a good dose of machine learning. Cool trendy techniques are fun but don’t forget classic methods can be very efficient also.

Do you have a List of Preferred Suppliers for Consulting? How did you build it?
Or do you want a little boost to get started? Don’t hesitate to reach out.
Share your opinion, and if you need our perspective, we love to debate.

Book your call

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6 Tips on Monitoring Your Consulting Spend That Will Give You Confidence & Peace of Mind

 “Analysis is the art of creation through destruction.” – P.S.Baber, ‘Cassie Draws the Universe’

Monitoring your Consulting Spend might sound like a hassle, but it really comes down to a few main steps executed consistently. If you are interested and determined to see the benefits of transforming your Consulting Procurement Capability, you must regularly measure the impact.
And the good news is financial impact is an easy metric to track. 
When you monitor your Spend, you will need to set a target, segment the expenses, track the data and monitor the development closely. 
Here is how to do this best – Our 6 best tips to monitor your spend
#1- You Need to Establish Your Guidelines
What are you trying to achieve? Setting a target is the best way to make sure you are on the right track. You can decide on a loose target, for instance, to stay in the limits of X% of the revenues. Or you can opt for a stricter goal setting for a fixed target.Having a set target, or if you prefer guidelines covering different segments of your Consulting Expenses, can help you determine the level of expenses, the performance and expected to return on investment.

Create Value Through Consulting

A successful Procurement Strategy for the Consulting Category requires a good understanding of the overall Strategy, the Consulting Market and the past performance within the category.

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#2 – Limit the Consulting Projects to the Most Beneficial Oness
Depending on various factors, and considering turnarounds, you know that Consulting Projects vary in scope and outcomes. You may want to limit Projects that are not presenting tangible benefits (i.e., cost savings, sales increase, etc.) in less than one year.Conversely, you can loosen those criteria to prepare for future projects when the financial situation permits.
#3 – Segmenting the Expenses Will Give You the Real Picture
Looking at your Consulting Spend as a whole doesn’t always bring enough information to identify trends and patterns. You might want to segment your expenses based on:

The size of the projects: small projects vs. large projects
The strategic importance and impact
The group handling the procurement process

If you decide to implement Demand Management, this segmentation should fit with the criteria you define.
#4 – The Importance of Tracking Everything, Tail Spend Included
Often companies only monitor the Consulting Expenses that go through the centralized Indirect Procurement group. They consider that smaller projects are not relevant to the analysis of the Consulting Spend.

But, if you are familiar with the notion of tail spend, you know that, when they are unmanaged, small expenses can add up to gigantic amounts.All the Consulting Expenses, even the small ones, have to be integrated.
#5 – The Monthly Dashboard Will Serve You Year Around
This might sound obvious, but we like to remind you to create a monthly (or quarterly) Dashboard.
Consulting Expenses are very often seasonal with a peak at the beginning of the year, and a clear slowdown in the last quarter. While you are cruising through the peak period, be careful and don’t burn all your Consulting budget in 3 months. You might need to keep some money in the bank to absorb a last-minute strategic project.
Make sure you monitor at the same time expenditures (what you paid) and engagements (what is still to be produced and paid) to avoid some end-of-year surprises.
#6 – Make Data Your Strongest Ally

 “If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.” – Jim Barksdale.

Gathering, analyzing and optimizing your data is of paramount importance. Without data, all you have is a variety of opinions. To touch on data briefly – in a recent study performed by the MIT Center for Digital Business, it was revealed that companies with data-driven decision making achieve 4% higher productivity and 6% bigger profits than the average ones. It is also a known fact that many business leaders often don’t make data-driven decisions.
Take the savvy approach, and always apply the data you have available when it comes to your Consulting Spend.

Do you monitor your Consulting Spend? Do you want to share your successes or your challenges?
Or do you want a little boost to get started? Don’t hesitate to reach out.
Share your opinion, and if you need our perspective, we love to debate.

Book your call

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8 of the Hottest Industries Ready for Disruption According to Experts

Disruption is everywhere, but this picture might be kind of misleading. Despite that many sectors are experiencing disruption, there are still big and profitable industries that are ripe with potential for disruption, and not there yet.
We all know that most industries are facing the risk of disruption. But what are the leading indicators increasing the chances that disruption will occur?
According to Annet Aris from INSEAD, there are three factors to monitor carefully:

the amount of waste in the industry,
how much money the industry makes by being opaque, and
the lack of customization and flexibility.

Annet Aris explains that if the answer to one or more of these questions is yes, then it is certain that disruptive digital innovation will arrive sooner or later.
Here is a short list with some of them.

Create Value Through Consulting

A successful Procurement Strategy for the Consulting Category requires a good understanding of the overall Strategy, the Consulting Market and the past performance within the category.

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#1- Banking
Waste : High – Opaque : High – Rigid : High
We see two fundamental forces driving change worldwide: first, increased choice, and second, decreased switching costs. When you have rapid worldwide increased choice and decreased switching cost, it inevitably necessitates an advocacy-based approach to business. If a business doesn’t take really good care of its customers, these players will end up getting pushed out due to the decreased costs to switch. Banking will ultimately do the same thing. It’s just a matter of time whether banks will choose to be advocates on their own, or whether Fintech innovations will take their customers away.
#2 – Transportation and Logistics
Waste : High – Opaque : High – Rigid : High
Logistics operations require a high degree of human intervention and are, therefore, prone to errors and inefficiencies. Excessive dependence on human efforts for a smooth movement of goods from one place to another not only increases the risk of delays but also adds up to the costs; and operational inefficiencies.

Driving endlessly for days, lack of coordination among the concerned stakeholders and dealing with road congestions only adds to the stress. As the world is embracing automation and innovation, the logistics sector is highly ripe and ready for disruption. How can the Industry benefit from new technologies? It can, in so many ways! Driverless trucks or drones can facilitate last-mile e-commerce deliveries, or an app similar to Uber can optimize the efficiency of operations in the sector. 
#3 – Insurance
Waste: High – Opaque: High – Rigid: HighEveryone needs insurance. People now have started researching and comparing options online for buying health insurance directly from the companies rather than contacting agents, and they are loving it. The online-instant-direct-cheap policies can surely bring a revolution in Insurance, especially among the millennials.
#4 – Finance
Waste: High – Opaque: High – Rigid: High
Many aspects of this industry need to change so that investing becomes a more inclusive, transparent and straightforward process for all of us. Both being able to understand how to access capital, and invest it for multiple -bottom line returns will be important as we move toward a more inclusive and sustainable economy. The financial industry itself, and all the people and institutions it serves will do better once it becomes more diverse and inclusive.
#5 – Healthcare
Waste: High – Opaque: Medium to High depending on countries – Rigid: High
There is a wave of technology that is already shaping the way providers offer care to patients. With the further proliferation of smartphones and video communication, the ability to connect patients and doctors has become much easier. No longer needing to set an appointment with your primary care provider when you have to wait weeks because they are booked up. Now, you can have a video chat with doctors, nurses, or other healthcare professionals from the comfort of your own home or while traveling. This also has a positive impact on healthcare facilities as it allows better screen patients, provides directional care, and even offers prescriptions over the web. This way shortening waiting room times and limiting unnecessary patient visits.
#6 – Long Supply Chain Industries
Waste: High – Opaque: High – Rigid: High
The greatest potential for disruption in the years to come is in any industry based on a long supply chain. The more intermediaries between manufacturer/producer/source and end-user, the greater the potential for new technologies like robotic process automation (RPA), blockchain and machine learning to shorten that supply chain. Industries like real estate, fashion, food, and even government and public services fit that description.
#7 – Retail and Fashion
Waste: High – Opaque: High – Rigid: Medium
Retail and fashion will always be a disruptive industry. There is always an opportunity for new businesses and startups to create and bring in disruptive solutions that minimize customer effort. Disruption can be done by offering an omnichannel solution, using automation, or developing a chatbot – the possibilities are almost endless.
#8 – Automotive
Waste: High – Opaque: Medium – Rigid: High
Self-driving cars will be ultra-safe, and quicker too. How about this idea – “Uber” type of app where your self-drive car makes you money while you work at the office! Self-driving cars will be EV, Electric Vehicles which means easier to maintain and, according to experts, be cheaper after 2022. No more expensive maintenance or repairs! Self-driving cars are a certain disruption that will arrive sooner than we anticipated.
A few months ago emerged a  lively debate about whether companies like Uber qualified as disruptive innovation. In the pure theoretical arena, the discussion can continue for ages. As stated in a famous quote with unclear paternity “the reason the infighting in academia is so fierce is that the stakes are so small.” What matters is the impact that will occur in your industry. Indeed, sometimes you don’t anticipate how innovation can significantly impact your business and transform your industry.

What are your thoughts on the disruption of the industry you are in?
Do you see new innovative solutions challenging the current status?
Share your opinion, and if you need our perspective, we love to debate.

Book your call

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How to Best Define Your Procurement Strategy: Pillars & Pitfalls

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

Optimize your Consulting Spend

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

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

Choosing Between Make-or-Buy Strategy

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

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

Your Preferred Supplier List & Master Service Agreements

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

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

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

Your Consulting Procurement Process

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

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

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

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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.
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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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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.

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: Optimizing Efficiency with New Progressive Attitudes

The Consulting Playbook, Edition #13
A High Technology Company with a large global engineering workforce of several thousand employees and half a dozen centers of excellence was facing growing pressure to deliver the expected performance. They were facing issues on flexibility across, had growing costs and had to face a major technology shift rendering part of the existing workforce obsolete. The company decided to launch a specific program, with the support of an external consultant to improve the situation.
Namely, they wanted to speed up and strengthen the implementation of the defined Centers of Excellence and to achieve a better flexibility of resource allocation to various programs while maintaining the service level.
Assessing for the Transformation
Evaluate the implementation status of the target organization, obtain a clear perspective of the ongoing activities, assess workload drivers and performance ratios and define the change program to achieve the target state.
The first step consisted in the assessment of the present business principles of the various parts of the organization.
Organizational blueprints were defined to align progressively the various elementary units on the same set of principles. During that phase the span of control and number of layers were adjusted to state-of-the-art levels. The second step consisted in the analysis of the activity drivers and the inventory of the current project portfolio. Projects were classified in various categories. Most interesting projects expanded to the entire organization and lesser impact projects pruned to reduce complexity. During that phase the make or buy and talent management policies were redefined.
After the careful assessment of the current state of the organization’s model, the best new practices were identified and the areas of potential improvement. An alignment of all departments was performed in order to achieve the transformation needed to reach the desired goals.
A Clear Vision and Plan Results in Efficiency Gains
The Executive Team of the organization was very pleased with the results.

A Reference Book describing the common Engineering organization and interfaces was created
Unified Vision and Action Plan were developed consistent across all Centers of Excellence Resources Allocation Program was developed and the Eternalization Strategy created
Performance Management KPIs were outlined

Thanks to all those actions, beyond achieving the organizational and collaboration benefits 15% in efficiency gains were made.

Additional Information

New Evolved Perspective Bringing People and Enterprises To Higher Achievements
We are living in a time of an evolutionary change in how we do business – a big transformation is taking place today.
The old paradigm of linear, mechanistic, control-based approach is shifting toward a lot more life-sustainable and organic growth approach. We are witnessing a higher human consciousness in enterprising, at least more evident in a number of industries. Eco-friendly products and services, and human-centric strategies are becoming more relevant than ever in today’s delicate global business environment. The world is more connected and open, with businesses at the fore front at this major shift.
If your organization wishes to be a part of this new positive shift, here are a few characteristics to look at:
 

Open Minded Leadership

Executives of the past had a more controlling role, and authoritative style of work, in today’s infinitely connected global world, shaped by personal freedom and mobile technology, as well as social media, leaders need to interact with a much wider audience on an equal basis. They need to have an open dialogue and be receptive of opinions and ideas in a more democratic way. This type of interaction simply affirms and promotes a nurturing culture to the benefit of not just the organization but society in general.
 

New Value Definition

If pleasing shareholders was the main agenda of the past, the new shift of consciousness today, goes beyond that and centers on creating bigger value. Stakeholders are the new players working towards creating that value driven by new principles. Value that supports the environment, the health and well-being of employees, and nurtures communities and worthy causes.
 

New Responsibilities

We can no longer ignore environmental issues, sustainability, and regeneration of resources and workforce. Responsible strategic and business operational models are the new norm, and companies who neglect that are jeopardizing their future.
 

People First

Some of the biggest companies in the world now, like Facebook and Google, offer the best working environment promoting creativity and independence. Enjoyable work places, collaboration, and empowering small teams are leading indicators  of progressive business culture. People are not just employees, they are participants and contributors. When the personal interest overlaps with the company’s purpose, greater growth is achieved. Recent data analyzing companies’ performance, proved that those type of progressive organizations now consistently outperform the older types of mechanical, authoritative style ones. The central idea here is that businesses are more successful because of the people who build them and operate them. Providing the space for personal growth is the best strategy to nurture your enterprise’s growth too.
There are plenty examples of more socially conscious enterprises, non-profit organizations and businesses who are very committed to the new attitudes.
Let’s hope that many more follow in their footsteps, and choose life-affirming and purpose driven practices.
 
For Further Reading –

How New Technology Is Forcing Organizational Evolution

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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 Performance: Measure What is Measurable and Make Measurable What is Not

In God we trust; all others must bring data:
As consultants hammer home to their clients, the only way to prove that you are good is to bring the proof, the data. Paradoxically, however, they don’t apply that sound principle to their own shops. Management consulting has always been something of an informal business when it comes to measuring and proving its own impact.  Daniel McGinn, a senior editor of Harvard Business Review writing in the magazine’s September 2013 issue, described consulting as a “black box.” And because there is no widely accepted, objective methodology for measuring consulting, the management consulting firms that attempt to create measures are inventing their own recipe.
Most firms measure their performance through the volume of sales and re-sales per consultant. Partners thus are encouraged to bring in more revenue and conduct projects which, instead of fully meeting the client’s needs at the outset, lead to further projects without necessarily cultivating good long-term relationships with the clients.  And then there are the Attila-the-Hun type of consultants who pursue a scorched-earth policy, wringing as much revenue from the client as quickly as possible and then moving to the next target while being handsomely compensated for it. Some firms attempt a cross-partner evaluation, whereby a partner surveys a colleague’s clients to gauge their satisfaction.  The result is often a quid pro quo in which the evaluator returns a favorable report on the colleague’s performance in hopes of being included in the colleague’s next big project. In addition, many consulting firms are organized as partnerships, which encourages individualistic and short-term behavior that works against long-term relationships, specialized expertise, and team play.

Measure what is measurable, and make measurable what is not
Even though production in management consulting appears to be mostly intangible, there are still dimensions that can be measured based on the expectations of the clients.  Those dimensions include:
Commercial Approach. Was the client convinced by your proposal? Your pitch? Was your proposal in line with the client’s expectations?
Relationship. How well do your consultants do with the clients and their teams? What image do clients have of your company? Collegial? Honest? Trustworthy?
Expertise. How is your expertise perceived by the client? What were their expectations?
Delivery posture. How does the client perceive your posture? Are you available? Flexible?
Project Management. How did you perform on the traditional triad: scope, time, and cost?
Impact. What impact did you work have on your client’s organization in terms of savings, ROI, change, and the like?
Client satisfaction. Is the client satisfied overall with your company?

Measure your Performance

We all love apps that can help us be more organized, productive and enjoy some extra free time.

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But evaluation shouldn’t stop there.  You need to assess performance at the right degree of granularity. Evaluating the company performance as a whole won’t allow you to identify the partners’ blind spots and to surface best practices. And going down to the consultant level will be very hard to organize (and consequently very costly) in exchange for little in the way of extra value.
However, if you are evaluated using the same methodology used on similar firms offering the same range of services, then you can benchmark yourself internally and against the competition.  Such benchmarking is invaluable in terms of positioning and strategy.  All that is required is an independent organization that can conduct your evaluations.  Such independence provides the objectivity and the confidentiality needed to get candid feedback from your clients, a fair assessment of your partners, and an accurate comparison with your competitors.
To measure is to know
Once all of the relevant dimensions have been measured, you will have a wealth of inputs that your firm can use to:
Understand. One key element of the business is to understand your client expectations and whether your work met their needs.  Sometimes client expectations may be explicit, like a specific type of expertise.  Or they can be implicit expectations like trustworthiness, ethical behavior, or active listening on your part.  The ability to hone in on those expectations, both explicit and implicit, confers significant competitive advantage.
Strategize. Evaluation will give you greater insight into your strengths and weaknesses and help you evaluate the effectiveness of your value proposition and your strategy. You can also gauge your performance in each of the various segments you serve.
Learn. Identifying best practices and capitalizing on experience can spur innovation. Evaluation can also help you identify your partners’ blind spots and gain a better understanding of your firm’s ecosystem.
Improve. Assessment also provides a better understanding of how you perform in each of the different steps of your process: matching the right partner or team with the project, the proposal, delivery posture, project management, team composition, and impact. You then have the keys to improving on the dimensions important to your clients.
Manage. Knowing your clients’ specific needs enables you to continuously improve your performance, build better offerings and teams, and increase your success rate. But evaluation can also be a key tool for talent management, giving you valuable insights into your employees and enabling you to better manage their development and compensation in an industry where attracting and retaining talent is essential.
By changing nothing, nothing changes
Used wisely, performance evaluation can help you capitalize on strengths and mitigate weaknesses.  And it could be easier to implement than you think.
Why?
It doesn’t cost a thing.  The cost of evaluating a client engagement represents only a negligible percentage of the engagement’s revenue.
It’s already there. You are already evaluated by your client (informally), and your clients are familiar with evaluation processes.
Think ROI. Your return on investment is highly positive.
You can use an objective evaluation to build your reputation, enhance your credibility, strengthen your relationship with existing clients, and enlarge your portfolio.
In a nutshell, evaluating your performance will enable you to guarantee a certain level of performance, build loyalty, and improve your success rate.
So what are you waiting for?

Consulting Playbook: Creating and deploying an effective Company Culture

The Consulting Playbook, Edition #24
A leading European energy company (with a US division) constructing a nuclear enrichment facility in the US was presented with several challenges, including the lack of a cohesive leadership team.
With the facility being located in a small town, hiring, relocating and providing services was difficult.  Over the course of 18 months, the number of staff grew solidly from 6 to over 200 employees, plus more than 1,000 contractors.
To the whole team, this project was especially important. They had the opportunity to be involved in something new from the ground up and to utilize their rich professional experience. The staff boasted a mix of backgrounds (experience, geography, culture) which made coming to agreements difficult and the project went through changes in direction and priorities.
A prior operations manager created a divisive environment between those designing and constructing the facility and those that would operate it.  The priorities and values of people working on the project were coming into conflict and people questioned the decisions being taken.
The operations manager was replaced and a new chief nuclear officer did an excellent job in getting everyone on the same team and clarifying priorities and plans. The leadership team became a more cohesive unit and wanted to take time at one of their off-sites to work on improving how they worked together – particularly around team communications and decision-making.
In addition, the leadership team recognized that the company was at a critical point in its growth, they wanted to create a unifying culture with clear behavioral expectations of everyone involved in the project – both employees and contractors.  The company had a set of values that the US division needed to reinforce in their daily interactions and adapt to the current stage of the company’s growth.
Assisting the Leadership Team in Creating of an Effective Company Culture
The Consultant hired on the project, helped the executive team in the exploration of the personal styles of team members, and the creation of behavioral descriptors for the company’s culture.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator was applied to better understand personal preferences for getting information and making decisions.  The executive team reviewed the conceptual aspects of MBTI and performed exercises to apply the theory. Team members worked on understanding how best to communicate with each other when their individual needs and preferences differed.  Gaps that could affect problem solving, potential for “group think” and potential for conflict, were identified.
The leadership team defined the culture they wanted to create that embodied the company’s values.  Research into the present cultural attributes was conducted and the results provided a baseline against which to evaluate desired changes.  The leadership put together a plan of action for communicating the cultural expectations to the entire team.
The Success Achieved
The team acquired a deeper understanding of the personal needs of the team members and their decision-making process. The potential for “group think” and for conflict was evaluated to pursue more effectively team goals, and resolve weaknesses, risks and conflicts.
As the employees and contractors were experiencing a set of different cultures, a new unifying vision of one common culture was crafted with behavioral examples to emulate and apply. This new vision would serve as guideline for the rest of the organization.

Additional Information

How to Better Communicating One Unifying Culture
Cultivating team work and a collaborative spirit is based on the idea that synergy is a superior level performance than separate individual approaches. Many people agree with that, so the challenge is mainly in putting forth the effort to create that synergistic state even though many organizations struggle to intertwine diverse backgrounds and experiences.
Here are few short cuts and proven ideas to create a unifying culture:

Clearly communicated expectations from the executive team to all team members. Processes and positions, timelines and steps are all defined. All are open to collaboration and inputs.
Values are identified, written and all members are familiar with them.
Friendly and respectful communication is to be followed all the time even when challenges, difficulties and issues arise.
Establish a fair system for teamwork to be rewarded and recognized. Compensation, bonuses, and rewards depend on collaborative practices as much as individual contribution and achievement.
Provide honest and consistent feedback. Be open to input from all team members.
Create opportunities for retreats, planning sessions, seminars and team building activities.
Plan fun activities – there are plenty of ways to do some fun stuff as a team, from sports events, games and competition, to parties and team dinners.
Celebrate team successes. People like to be acknowledged for their achievements and effort. Give rewards, certificates, even t-shirts and other gift items will go a long way.

For Further Reading –

Leadership, Coordination and Corporate Culture
Developing and Sustaining High-Performance Work Teams
Eight Ways to Build Collaborative Teams
The 16 Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) personality Types

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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.

How to find the right Consultants for your Project?

Finding the right consultant for your business can be a tricky process. It’s not just about knowing where to look, but knowing what to look for. Just like hiring a new employee, you want to be sure your new consultant is someone who will actively support and help you achieve your business goals. So, where do you begin?
Before you start your search for a consultant, clarify exactly what you types of results you are looking for. You know for sure your primary objective: increase sales, update marketing efforts, overhaul your HR department… But are you clear on the scope? Do you want a benchmark of best practices, a diagnostic of your current performance or support in the implementation? Besides have you identified how you will measure success? The clearer your goals, the easier it will be to home in on the right consultant for the job.
Whether you’ve received a referral from a friend or you’ve been exploring your options on the internet, it is important to keep these needs in mind while looking for a consultant. Someone might blow you away with her ideas and proposals, but if she’s not going to give you the results you need, there’s not much point in hiring her. However, by taking your time, doing your research, and considering all the facts, you will be able to find a consultant who’s the right fit for your company.
So, if you’re wondering how to find a consultant who can provide the outcome you’re looking for, here are a few tips:

Source Consultants

Hiring a consultant who has successfully worked for many other companies helps you and your team gain a different perspective.

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1. Ask questions.
Finding a consultant online is not just about putting in your requirements to a system and waiting. You need to ask the right questions. One great way to do this is by reading a consultant’s past reviews. Has she worked on projects similar to yours? Has she been able to produce results? Has she effectively increased the bottom line of the companies she has worked with?comfortable. You should be able to communicate with her easily.
2. Ask whom she has worked with.
According to this article from Huffington Post, you should find out if the consultant has worked with businesses of the same size as yours. If she has generally worked with small businesses, she may not have the right skills to work with large ones, and vice versa. Try to get a feel for the businesses that are rating the consultant. If you find that businesses of the same size and focus as your own are rating a consultant well, then there’s a good chance that she will be a good fit for you, as well.
3.Do you feel comfortable with her?
This article from Huffington Post is about bridal consultants, which is probably not the type of consultant that you’re looking for.

Interestingly, however, many of the things that people are looking for in a business consultant are the same things that they’re looking for in a bridal consultant. For example, you know that the consultant is not right for you when “you feel pressured to make a quick decision,” “you feel like she’s not listening to you,” “you feel judged” and “you feel neglected.” Even when you’re making business decisions, it’s important that the consultant with whom you decide to work makes you feel
4. Communicate.
Before you even ask for a proposal or presentation, you should communicate clearly with your potential consultant about what you are looking for. Make it clear that you expect workable results and not just theoretical ideas. Tell her about your goals and your current strategies for how to achieve those goals. Familiarize her with the structure of your business and the types of products or services you provide. The more you can tell the consultant about yourself and your business, the better she will be able to serve you. The consultant who pays attention, asks questions, and works your ideas into her proposal, is one who likely deserves your business.
5. Read proposals and listen to presentations.
Most consultants will be delighted to write a proposal tailored to your business. You might feel like you’re asking the consultant to do a lot of work. However, most good consultants will be happy to have the chance to show you what they can do, in as much detail as possible. If a consultant feels like your business is not worth putting in that extra effort for, then you know that she’d likely not be a good fit for the job. When you’re given a proposal, don’t just skim over it. Be respectful of the time and effort this consultant has put into preparing it, and make sure that you give it your full attention. The same goes for the presentation. Be attentive, and if you have any questions for the consultant, now’s the time to bring them up.
By setting clear goals, doing the proper research, and knowing what to expect from the right candidate, you will be able to move forward with confidence and find a consultant who can get the job done.

Consulting Playbook: Organize for Growth – a Winning Strategy for Survival

The Consulting Playbook, Edition #6
How Can You Boost Your Company’s Growth? The most recent economic downturn had lasting effects on many industries and businesses. It presented serious challenges to many organizations that had to embrace big changes in order to survive. But as it often happens, instead of simply adapting to the new market conditions, it is far better and more rewarding strategically as well as financially, to chase growth and expansion rather than mere adaptation.
Large Chemicals Conglomerate Rides Out the Recession
In the aftermath of the economic crisis a large Chemicals manufacturer was recovering. And in order for the company to overcome the effects of the downturn, the senior management decided to aggressively pursue growth. It was a tough call since the company has gone through many years of restructuring. As the project commenced it became clear that the company would need a solid and ambitious growth vision and a deep transformation. The CEO and the executive team agreed that a complete new management model was necessary to develop. Among the top priorities of the new vision were innovation skills, further development of the entrepreneurial culture and customer focus. They decided to hire a consultancy specialized in transformation.
Two-Phase Ambitious Approach Designed to Achieve Desired Transformation
The integrated team of consultants and the company’s executives decided to proceed in two phases.
The First Phase of the Transformation consisted of:

Establishing the architecture and the design principles of the new ensemble
Collaboration with the key stakeholders, the new governance and management model
Framing the desired behaviors with a specific focus on commitment and initiative
Reinforcing accountability and engagement by simplifying the organization’s set-up and reducing the levels of management

In Phase Two the focus was on further implementation of all the components and new policies such as:

Developing the Growth vision
Establishing a new management model based on the desired behaviors
Setting up the New Governance Placing strategy, P&L accountability and levers at Business Unit level

Re-organizing and decentralizing many of the functions to allocate necessary resources (procurement, research, etc.) under the authority of the reshaped business units, direct the remainder of corporate functions to excellence.
The Successful Completion of the Project
The consultant developed and launched a growth program that was the blueprint for the changes the company was planning to undertake. The official restart laid the foundation for the revamped structure of the company. The organization started a new chapter. Fast forward a few years, and now the company has stopped the continous restructuring, has an EBITDA growth in double digits, and is far exceeding its competitors.
The main area of transformation included simplified decentralized management model favoring effective leverage of entrepreneurial culture, growth dynamics, better responsiveness, and speed of decision making and execution.

Additional Information

Achieving Growth by Exploring New Markets with These Four New Strategies
Growing your business is very much about growing your markets at the core. Many new markets are promising but hard to penetrate. And that’s quite logical. An organization needs effective new strategies to enter uncharted territories. Only uniquely suited strategies for the new emerging markets are sufficient enough to bolster your chances for success in these areas.
History is full of business success stories from McDonald’s to Google showcasing the principle that if you are able to tap into newly-minted social trends, rapidly expanding technological innovations among consumers, and new types of consumption, communication, shopping, media and entertainment you are essentially capturing new trends and scaling up your business. These new markets can generate additional revenue, sizeable profits, solidify your share and extend your brand’s awareness. You can dominate your competition in most cases too.
But such lofty goals are not easy to achieve. First and foremost, you need the right strategies and quite often a new perspective to see things in a new light. Even though virgin markets are so attractive and rightfully merit companies interest, to succeed in them, requires new strategies.
Most of the familiar market measuring tools and techniques (such as tracking market share, profit margin trends and so on) do not work well in new markets since there are many variables and an uneven market terrain.
When developing strategy for new and emerging markets, here are 4 top trends that need to be addressed:
1. Educating Customers in New Markets by Uniting with Your Competition
In a new market, when dealing with recently and currently forming trends of consumption, consumers tend to be reluctant and just not used to the products or services in question. In these conditions, overcoming customer’s inertia will be priority. Addressing competition at that stage should not be a main concern. The real battle here will be winning the consumer’s trust and choices, and in many cases teaming up with competition in educating the customers, can be a win-win approach.
2. Selling Directly Can Work Better Compared to Using Established Channels
Selling directly to customers, especially in new and uncharted markets, offers a lot more freedom. Well-established channels can take time to develop, and you can exploit early opportunities via direct commerce with the end-user.
3. Timing Your Market Entry For Better Opportunities
There is no point to enter the game if you cannot capitalize on your advantage now, and stay ahead. It’s rather easy to lose your advantage of being the first in, so well-timed steps will be way more effective.
4. Aiming Small But Playing Big Actually
Tailor your offer and product features to target only a segment of the market. To be all things to all customers is most often a losing proposition. You simply can’t. And there is no point in it either.
There are many and substantial differences between new and old markets. But you can navigate through them very successfully using these ideas above.
For Further Reading:
– Rule of Three Marketing: Market Share and Market Dynamics
– New Business Models in Emerging Markets
– The Risks and Opportunities of Doing Business in Emerging Markets

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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.

A Foolproof Guide to be sure to Ruin Your Proposals

The many common mistakes performed by consultants while preparing their proposals are not just inside their head. Mistakes often enter into proposals and presentations in the most awkward time and manner.
The following is a list of many of the possible ways we have seen consultants ruin their proposals. Examine the following list with care (and humor) because the proposal is often the first impression you make on the client and you know the saying: “The first impression is always right, especially if it’s a bad one.”

Call your client by another name. They like that; it’s like role playing! Even better, if you forget the name of their entire company, that will really impress them. They’ll think, “Wow, they can’t remember our name? Their business must be booming!”
Forget the name of a previous client on your document. Who cares about confidentiality? I mean, isn’t a name on a document just like a referral?
Present a generic presentation. Like people, all businesses are the same, so you don’t need to put too much effort into building your presentation. Right?
Don’t insert the company’s logo, or if you do, use the wrong one. What’s in a logo, anyway? Chances are, the client won’t even notice.
Don’t customize the resumes of the project team. No one cares about who the guys are on your consulting team. Their seniority and expertise don’t actually have much bearing on the project. Besides, the client should trust your judgement in personnel. That’s why they’re hiring you, isn’t it?
Don’t answer the questions of the clients. If you’re not careful, you could learn a thing or two about the context of the project and better tailor your proposal. Yikes!
Forget the criteria of choice included in the RFP. The client included that just for kicks. It’s really not that important and definitely not worth your time to include.
Present a bland presentation. Graphics and images are much too distracting. Keep your documents black and white with 12-point Times New Roman font and no formatting, except for paragraphs. That will catch their attention and show them that you mean business.
Don’t explicitly state your pricing. When it comes to pricing, it’s better to keep your client in the dark. He should just trust you on this one. After all, trust is rarely earned through clear communication.
Hide some fees here and there. It is just like an egg hunt. Clients love it, and it keeps them on their toes.
Forgo details about your approach or the deliverables. If the client has done their research, they should already know how your services will fit with their business needs.

Don’t explain the governance of the project. You might give the client a good understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the different parties involved. This would give the client the elements to estimate their internal cost for the project; see point 9 above.
When you change the pricing, don’t say so. Especially when it goes up! Clients love hidden surprises, almost as much as they love egg hunts.
Don’t talk about timelines or milestones. It is very often a minor subject for your client. Focus on how this is going to be a long-term relationship with no clear results or predictable costs. That will reassure your clients that you have everything under control.
Send the proposal by email, and wait for the client’s answer. Don’t give them the chance to ask questions. You could end up having to rework the proposal. What a waste of time!
Ignore the timeline explained in the RFP. The client will not include that element in the evaluation, unless you actually think they need your services in a timely fashion.
Use psychedelic color schemes. The tie-dye theme was a great hit at your seventies party. Your clients will love it too!
Don’t ask questions. You already know their business. Why would you waste all that time and energy? You are the consultant, and they’re here to learn from you, right?

Grow your Consultancy

Unfortunately, just sending a proposal doesn’t guarantee that it’ll be read.
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Provide solutions to issues not found in the RFP. After all, you know their industry/product/market better than they do. Why not “wow” them with your prescient ability to create solutions in areas without any problems?
Don’t listen to the client. Listening to the client talk about their needs is a pain. You might have to collect more information or even have to rework your proposal to better meet their expectations.
Base your price upon a client’s ability to pay. Larger companies can pay more. It’s not like they picked you because they thought you would offer a better price, right?
The longer, the better. Need we say more?
Give them a long, comprehensive overview of your company. The client really needs to understand who you are, as a company, before anything else. You’ll get extra points if they fall asleep.
Don’t demonstrate an understanding of the scope and goals. Go directly to the pricing section. That’s what really matters to the client. 
Offer them the moon. Sure, you know that you can’t actually deliver the customer a 500% return on their investment in the first 6 months, but hey, the customer is really excited about that guarantee.

Okay. So, you get the idea. This list could go on and on, but these points are starting to sound like variations on a theme. (Speaking of variations, if you have never listened to the Paul Simon song this post is parodying, enjoy.)
In truth, these points are guaranteed ways to start a bad consulting relationship and probable ways to never start one. Some of them are even possible causes for litigation. The best way to avoid them is to do these 5 simple things: ­

Customize ­your presentation for each client. Every time.
Work on the form ­of your presentation. People are visual, visuals do matter.
Be clear on how you will do the work. Definitions and roles give everyone guidelines on how to move forward.
Be transparent about the pricing. Customers really don’t like hidden prices, and it’s not like an easter egg hunt.
Start working the relationship with the client. Communicate, listen, ask questions, and understand that this is their business. Your job is to help their business succeed.

Do these five simple tasks and you can avoid any number of ways people ruin their proposals.

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