Select Page

8 Biggest Reasons Why Organizations Need a Consulting Firm and How Consultants Cater to Clients’ Needs

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.

Don't Miss

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.

Loading

MOST RECENT

The Perfect Consulting RFP or the Fun of Creating a Blueprint for the Right Consultant

A script to a movie, is what the RFP to the Consulting project is. And the Master of Film suspense can provide us with sound advice on how important that document is. The Consulting RFP holds the same weight when it comes to setting your project on the path to success, and in creating the value you expect besides the general scope.

“To make a great film, you need three things – the script, the script, and the script.” – Alfred Hitchcock

How to craft the best and most effective Consulting RFP?
The single biggest objective of the RFP is to provide your prospective consultants with a clear picture of your needs and issues, and the desired outcomes.
To ensure the success of the project, we comprised a List of the Top 10 Secrets of the Perfect RFP.
The goal, of course, is to find the right and the best provider uniquely suited to you.
1. Don’t rush it, and include all the elements in your RFP –
Many RFPs for Consulting are rushed in their development. Sometimes the details or the context are insufficient to understand the business problem you are facing.
Maybe some key requirements are missing, or the language is ambiguous. You also might have omitted the common pricing framework to be followed, or given too little time for the candidate consultants to respond RFI/RFP. However, the result is always the same: it is difficult for Consulting Firms to send a solid proposal, in particular, if they are newcomers.

Know the Consulting Category

In this post, we would like to talk about two extremely important elements that determine the project’s success. Passion and value created.The type of Consultant you decide to hire should not only be based on the right expertise and experience, but their passion and commitment to deliver the best value.

Read More

2. The most important elements in the Consulting RFP  –
The RFP will be the reference document for the consulting providers you invite to the competition. Don’t forget to include elements on the RFP process such as timeline, criteria of choice and requirements. It will help the candidates to be laser-focused on your needs.
3. Looking for the right Consultants –
With your RFP in hand, you can start identifying the potential candidates. You might be impressed by some Consultants expertise or interesting projects they have been part of, but the most relevant question, remains to find out if they are right for you and best fit for your project?
4. Adapt your short-list to the project’s Budget and Timeline  –
Look closely at the scope of the project, the budget, and the internal procurement policies to define your criteria of selection for the short-list. Be mindful of your time and adapt the length of your short-list to the level of priority and the budget of your project.
Small and Large projects –
When you have a very tight timeline or for small projects with limited impact on your business, prefer a small short-list too so you can spend enough time on the proposal and the references checking. We recommend to not go beyond three prospective providers.
For larger projects-
you can broaden the first round (briefing/proposal phase) to up to ten consulting firms (depending on the project and the stakes) but keep at most four-five companies for the final round (pitching phase).
When your short-list is ready, contact your suppliers and check their interest by sending your Consulting RFP

5. Secure Confidentiality –
It is important always to protect your confidential information. Don’t hesitate to make your candidates sign a confidentiality agreement at the beginning (even at RFI or RFP stage) to protect proprietary information and make sure the consulting firms will not be sharing your project’s details with your competitors.
If the proposal includes collaboration and sub-contracting, make sure that an NDA legally binds all the contributors on the project.
If your project is particularly confidential, you should even consider working with a third-party sourcing company, like Consulting Quest, that will handle the process anonymously. They will keep your company and your project confidential until the short-list stage.
6. Simplicity Always Wins –
And it’s best to make things simple. Unless you are handling a multi-million dollar project, don’t organize extravagant tenders. Looking through proposals and listening to consultants’ pitches can be extremely time-consuming. It will also considerably slow down your project. Make sure that your RFP process is adapted to the scope and the budget for your project.
If you only have a small number of consulting firms, or if the project is specifically complex, you might want to organize briefings to discuss the details of the project and make sure the consultants have well-understood what is at stake.
If you have a large number of candidates, a clear Consulting RFP, and little time on your hands, you can just send the RFP and assess the written proposals to identify the most promising one for the next step.
7. Assessing the written proposals –
Once you have received the proposals, take the time to review them with the other stakeholders. Always keep your objective in mind: maximizing the chances of success of your project. You need the candidates to submit their best proposals, and for that, they need to understand the problem very well.
Level the ground, so all companies have a fair chance in the competition. It is in your best interest to do so too. Don’t hesitate to explain in length the background of your company, and the context of the assignment, and to take some time to polish the Q&A documents.
8. Evaluate the fit with your RFP –
Make sure the candidates have responded to the most important elements in your RFP. Their proposals should help you answer the following questions:

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

Note if there are any gray areas and potential for misunderstanding.
9. Identify the most promising proposals –
When you are working on a large cohort of Consulting Providers, you should focus at first on the most promising proposals to save time and energy. You can always go down your list if you are not satisfied with your first batch.
Start ranking your proposals based on your assessment of the proposals. You can use these five dimensions: objectives, deliverables, approach, experience, fit and budget.
10. Discover and resolve any uncertainties –
You should also be able to put your finger on the uncertainties in the proposals and articulate them into questions. The list of questions will be the basis for the pitch session with the most promising Consultants: an excellent opportunity to clarify the Consulting RFP if necessary and assess the fit with your teams.

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

Book your call

Your browser does not support the video tag.

7 Effective Steps to successfully launch your Consulting Project

The importance of information in planning and managing your Consulting projects cannot be overstated. Information is essential for the success of any endeavor. And naturally, whoever has the upper hand in the game, has the best chance of winning. However, at the center of successful Consulting lies mutual respect and mutually beneficial business. It has always been our credo at Consulting Quest that it is the most productive approach to all types of projects.
With that said, let’s discuss this topic in more detail.
As a general rule, the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information. – Benjamin Disraeli
There are some important points for consideration here.
Before you launch your next Consulting project, you need to review some critical aspects, such as:
1. The downside of asymmetrical information –
And why should you care as a client?
Asymmetrical information, otherwise known as information failure, refers to a situation when one party in a transaction has more information, than the other party. Almost all economic transactions involve some information asymmetries.

Leverage Disruption to create more value through Consulting

Management consulting companies have mastered the art of selling “digital transformation” projects to clients, but still struggle to adopt digital tools in their business model.

Read More

2. How does asymmetrical information distort the Client-Consultant relationship? –
Asymmetrical information is particularly present when it is difficult for the client to judge the quality of the product or service. In Consulting, partners and consultants know their industry and their trade inside out, while the clients and their buyers have limited information.
3. Quality of Consulting services – Market Insights –
You might be familiar with the work of George Akerlof “The Market for Lemons”, where he explained that in certain markets, it’s difficult to distinguish the good product (“pears”) from the bad product (“lemons”). To mitigate the risk, the Buyer will use the average statistics of the market while the Seller has detailed information for each product. The Seller will tend to sell the product of lower quality to minimize their losses, and the best product won’t be sold. As a result, the market will shrink, and the average product quality will decrease. The case for Consulting is very relevant, as well. And as a Client, you need to be aware of these insights.
4. How to overcome the disadvantages when buying Consulting services? –
Unless they are handling several consulting projects a month in each capability, buyers of consulting services are at a disadvantage when negotiating with consulting providers.As a result, they might become risk-averse in their choice of consulting providers and choose consulting firms based on mostly their reputation or their existing relationship. The winners then are the large consulting firms that provide constant high-quality work and are excellent at building relationships.

How to get started? – 
The 7 Most Effective Steps in Launching Your Next Consulting Project-
If you are confident that you like to start a Consulting project, these are the most effective steps to follow:
1. Define your needs.
The definition of the scope of your project is a compulsory step in the RFP (Request for Proposal) process. You need to gather a team made of the major stakeholders and agree on the expected results, timeline, and budget for the project. Even though you are thinking of bringing in external resources to lead the project, the sound principles of project management still apply. Determine the real problem to solve and the project objectives. Many consulting projects fail because the scope is too vague and too broad.
2. Organize a competition among the prospective providers.
Organizing a healthy competition is not that complex. You have to keep in mind that the goal of the process goes beyond the sourcing and focus on the success of the project. Organizing a competition without putting all the candidates in the right conditions to give their best answer is meaningless. You need to bring in relevant potential consulting suppliers and give them a fair chance to get the project.
3. As a client, you are the boss.
Don’t let the Consulting firm dictate the pace or the content of the conversation. Explain your process beforehand. They need to give you one contact person, and to comply with your rules.The same applies to Terms & Conditions. Work with your documents based on your internal policies. Define, for instance, your rule for Travel expenses: Expenses capped at 15%, pre-approved by your teams, and based on your Company policy. Be fair to all consulting firms and apply the same to rules to everyone.

4. Be the “Early Bird” or start the process early.
Most of the time, you are not in such a hurry. When projects are complex, integrate Q&A sessions in the process. In all cases, give the consulting firms enough time to prepare their proposal. They will only be more detailed.
Generally, response turnaround times should be in the range of one week for a small project, two weeks for a standard consulting project and three to four weeks for a very large project (PMI, company-wide transformation, …).
Anticipate also spending some extra time for back-and-forth communication with the consulting providers to adjust the proposals
5. Sharing the roles.
As a general rule, business lines should focus on the Business Expertise, and Procurement should bring their Consulting and Procurement perspective to the table.

6. Create excitement.
If you decide to work with Consultants, you are interested in their analytical skills, their expertise or their outstanding communication competencies. Don’t waste their talent (and your money) on menial tasks. They are better employed at complex projects where they can do their magic. Besides, they might not be interested in working on small projects, and your project could go down on their priority list. And it might not be ‘good news’ in regards to quality and expertise.
If you are looking more for another pair of arms, or data crunching, you might prefer freelance platforms such as Catalent, TalMix, even networks like 2PS or Eden McCallum. You will find bright individuals ready to take on very small projects or interim work.
7. Time management and timing.
If you can afford it, take your time. It is sometimes difficult to translate the business challenges and the needs into a project. You might not be sure even if the project will happen, or have a clear scope in mind. The RFI (Request for Information) can be a good way to collect and leverage information. It will help you refine your approach to solving the problem and develop consensus within your organization. It can also be a smart way to narrow the number of contestants on your list before engaging in the RFP process.
Be careful to give a fair chance to all the consulting firms you engaged in your RFI, so your company is not seen just as a brain picker.
When the scope is clear, you can take an educated guess at how many consultants you need for the project. You can also think about the value expected from the project. That should help you define ballpark how much you are ready to pay for that project.

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

Book your call

Your browser does not support the video tag.

Top 12 Overlooked Challenges in Digital Transformation That Can Prove Costly to Clients and Consultants.

In the new digital economy era, the demand for change to the traditional consulting business model is more pressing than ever. Digital transformation is providing consultants with nearly 40% of their revenue, but still, there are plenty of challenges for Clients and Consultants as well.
The good news is several levers can be implemented to guide Consultants and Clients in the right direction.
There is the shared goal – Clients and Consultants aspire to become digital enterprises.
And it’s interesting to see is how Digital transformation is changing Consulting business models, and more specifically, the challenges that Clients and Consultants now face.
Consulting firms still have many hurdles to address to be able to exploit this opportunity, and to avoid being disrupted themselves by new forms or automation.

“Problems are good, as long as you solve them quickly.” – Meg Whitman
 

We have a developed a List of Challenges that represent new opportunities as well-
1. Adoption is still slow –
Even though Digital transformation is happening, and Consultants are adding digital service offerings to their portfolios adopting digital tools to enhance their capabilities, the process is still slow. The slow digital transformation of many consulting firms is inexcusable. Take a look at the websites from the consulting firms in your network, and you will see if the shoemakers have good shoes.

Create Value Through Consulting

Some Consulting Firms are just more expensive than others. The real question that you should ask yourself is: “What is worth the investment?”

Read More

2. Clients expect better value and customized solutions –
Clients in the digital economy are demanding more value from day one and customized solutions unique to their specific problems. New upstart competitors leveraging data and technology are beginning to make waves. Should the clients take the usual route through consultants or embrace the disruption proposed by fashionable start-ups.
3. Stronger integration –
Adopting new consulting business models that leverage digital applications is crucial to the transition of Consulting firms into the Digital transformation economy. For example, Accenture started to implement Agency-type services that comprise of ad spending, media, and consulting together.
4. Optimization of the Intellectual Property Value –
McKinsey Solutions lead the way with their Productized Approach in an attempt to get the best value of their intellectual property. BCG is stepping in the same footsteps with several tools that look extremely close to the Mc Kinsey ones. See for instance Key by BCG vs. Wave by Mc Kinsey. Another productization is offered by a company like nine lenses industrializing assessments (maturity models, capabilities, …) for all professional services from consulting to talent.

5. On-demand Subscription Service –
First introduced by GLG Introduces, the As-A-Service Model, this new opportunity needs to be tested as a business model.”As-a-service” will include more long-term, smaller projects rather than large-scale projects for a fixed period.Subscription pricing, instead of billable hours, and on-demand services, is also a new financial model that will gain ground.
6. Consultants need to lead by example  –
The challenge to Consulting firms seems that first, they need to adopt digital transformation, then promote it to clients. Management consulting companies have mastered the art of selling “digital transformation” projects to clients, but still struggle to adopt digital tools in their business model. 
Also, digital transformations promoted by consultants need to be pragmatic enough. Aspirations do not always convert at the bottom line level, and the level of risk associated with digital models is quite high.
7. New significant cost savings for Clients  –
The significant cost savings that Digital transformation can bring represent an attractive proposition. If clients can save enough thanks to digital in their operations, it can fuel other profound transformations in other areas. From digitizing processes to the digitalization of ways of working, the opportunities for savings are almost unlimited.
8. Embracing Digital transformation internally –
Consulting firms followed different strategies to deliver digital transformation projects, with a strong focus on how to best serve their clients externally more than how to embrace a digital culture internally. A good indication would be the number of Chief Digital Officer within consulting firms. Rather limited, isn’t it? Are consultants sharing best practices or re-inventing them? How codified is knowledge ? Are they using digital learning platforms …. Do they take advantage of open innovation?
9. Opportunity to attract top Tech talent  –
Thanks to the attractive elements of the consulting career such as low risk, higher salary, diversified work experience, and fast career growth, Consulting firms can attract the best tech talent, at least those not joining the GAFAs and have them join their digital transformation teams. But the competition is fierce with the start-up world and the sirens of venture capital.
10. Pressure on Consultants to deliver top-notch digital transformation expertise –
We see digital transformation as a massive opportunity for growth for clients and consulting firms. Businesses will have to rethink their business models and processes to succeed fundamentally. Clients will be very selective in choosing their business partners while willing to pay high consulting fees to ensure their business doesn’t get disrupted in the Digital transformation age. This calls for creating a successful differentiation among Consulting firms, as they offer similar sets of expertise.
11. The emergence of Crowd Consulting –
As an evolution of innovation crowdsourcing, consulting crowd consulting could provide great value to the clients to solve micro battles, allowing them to access the best possible expertise and insights irrespective of which Consulting firms they decide to work with.
From a Consulting Firm standpoint, it raises similar questions. Should Consulting firms build the capabilities in house, develop a network of reliable experts and subcontractors or Should they rather rely on digital platforms ?
12. Clients’ capability development –
One of the main challenges for both clients and consultants remains capability building of clients. In any consulting project, capability building is important, to ensure the implementation of the strategy, but even more demanding in Digital Transformation.
As client gear to embrace digital transformation, they will need to staff at various levels. Implement governance to manage demands for Digital Transformation. Create catalysts in the organization to promote digital culture and propose low-cost rapid prototyping. But also connect the ideation and project management properly with the rest of the IS infrastructure without hampering speed with legacy processes. Did anyone say agile?
As we outlined the main challenges and opportunities in the Digital Age, we know that every client faces a unique set of questions. We welcome the opportunity to discuss your specific needs and see how we can further assist you in your Digital transformation journey. Do not miss the chance to step up your digital strategy today and bring it up to pace with the changes transforming your industry.

If you want to share your experience on digital transformation, or need help to get started, you can just book a call. We are always happy to help.

Book your call

Your browser does not support the video tag.

4 Practical Strategies to put your Consulting Spend back on tracks

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

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

The scope of responsibilities determines Spending & Value created

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

Create Value Through Consulting

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

How the context and the strategy affect Consulting Spend

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

Consulting Fees vs Consulting Expenses – the footprint

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

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

The scope and deliverables

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

The complexity

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

The footprint

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

The price – value dilemma

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

The Culture

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

The quality of their providers

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

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

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

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

Book your call

Your browser does not support the video tag.

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. 

Read More

#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

Your browser does not support the video tag.

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.

Read More

#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

Your browser does not support the video tag.

Loading

Most Popular

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.
 

t

Consulting Quest Global Directory

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

Consulting Playbook: Creating a Global Manufacturing Engineering Function in a Decentralized Environment

The Consulting Playbook, Edition #10
Profitability and profit margins in 2016 for most manufacturers pose a plethora of risks and their effective management, is critical. From navigating compliance, minimizing overheads, to skilled labor and market share expansion, the sector sees its share of pressure.
A major Manufacturer was operating through a dozen of separate plants spread across a few countries. Until the commencement of the project, the plants, as a result of successive acquisitions and integrations had been managed individually with incomplete cohesion on an executive level.
None of the systems were the same, leading to major production issues, the teams were using different terms equivalent activities or even worse, the same terms to define different activities. Each single attempt to change anything was facing the same push back: we don’t do it like this here. Equipment was different, processes were different, very often influenced by the geographical location of the manufacturing units. New projects were requiring the participation of representatives from all plants, even in early phases, and the decision making was a headache.
What was at stake?
Considering the challenges and the stakes the Head of Operations asked the consultant to focus his effort on three priorities:

Ensure a successful integration of all plants
Boost the overall manufacturing performance
Increase the efficiency and implement strengthening of collaboration

The goal was to optimize all plants’ resources and homogenize the Manufacturing Engineering processes to smoothly create one community. The project leader proposed a plan creating a central core with regional extensions to all separate plants. The Consultant was asked to assist with setting up the new entity.
What was the consultant’s approach?
They undertook efforts to build an alignment between all the stakeholders towards the new model of setting up a single entity. The new Manufacturing Engineering Head worked in close cooperation with Plant manager to come up with a common operating model. New personnel and management needs and tasks were addressed.
The Main Steps Taken Included:

Establishing shared definitions of all Manufacturing Engineering functions key processes.
Identify the savings potential by moving to the new model (case for change)
Define the core body and plants’ extensions duties
Determine resource’s drivers and appropriate sizing
Develop a transfer plan for all manufacturing engineering teams to ensure full resource utilization within the support of HR department.
Design and monitor the full transition process with introduction of efficient follow-up tools
Implement a 3-month follow-up of the transfer plan

What were the benefits for the client?
The newly established Manufacturing Engineering entity successfully took off, and managed to increase efficiency by reducing 20% of resources’ use. The model with a small core and decentralized entities allowed for a smooth connection between the teams and the next major project moved smoothly, on time, costs and performance from design to manufacturing. The following ramp-up and collaboration across sites was greatly facilitated by the newly defined vocabulary and process referential, reducing the cost of non-quality by double digits.

Additional Information

Biggest Issues for US Manufacturing Today
Manufacturing in 2016 faced some interesting challenges. Shaky financial markets and unsteady growth kept majority of manufactures with unsatisfying results and low profitability among other issues. Even though American market appears attractive to foreign capital, manufacturing in a number of sectors lags behind international companies. US companies in the past few years have not efficiently utilized latest technologies and implemented latest data analytics into the production processes, or in their strategic management.
With that said, let’s have a brief look at some of the biggest issues manufacturing is facing today on a global scale:
Five Essential Challenges to Address:

Late Innovation

In a global market, companies need to constantly implement new technology and innovation, to stay competitive. It might come as a surprise but according to many experts and research done, US manufacturing is lagging behind some international companies in technology and innovation. And that plays an instrumental role in driving prices down, as well as enhancing the overall customer experience.
Special emphasis in this area goes toward IT security, unauthorized access to company’s data, is a serious risk to any company. Another crucial point is protection of intellectual property, mainly from sources outside of the US.

New Products Development to Boost Revenue and Profitability

While you can win customers on price alone, it’s a very different picture to win on providing a brand new customer experience from start to finish. The task before modern Manufacturers now is to offer new and diversified products customized to the consumers’ needs, and to do faster than competition. Non-American companies in the last few years, are proving to be more innovative, and able to provide better and more satisfying customer relationship.

Need for International Expansion

With the strength of the  U.S. dollar, American companies now have the opportunity to expand their reach and successfully enter international markets. Strong dollar, and cheaper commodities might be a solid incentive, but there are challenges too – international taxation, culture difference  and state regulations. The relative strength of the U.S. economy also attracts foreign companies wanting to get into the US market, creating even more competition.

Process Improvement and Margin Management

Thriving U.S. companies today succeed in part because they continually establish higher benchmarks to force improvements; new ideas and innovative concepts are implemented, and when precise metrics are introduced, profitability and return on investment can be accurately measured. These companies also report larger increases in productivity, driven by process improvements, improved labor and equipment utilization as well. In volatile economic conditions, strong margin management is becoming increasingly important.

Skilled Workforce Needs

The shortage of well-qualified workers continues to be an issue that tampers companies’ growth. Sufficient and attractive education and training programs must be developed, promoted and implemented to sustain younger workforce. More manufacturers today have an international approach and look for skilled workers globally.
For Further Reading:
– 2016 Global Mobility Trends for the Manufacturing and Engineering Industry
– Industrial Manufacturing Trends
– 2016 Industry Outlooks
– The next era of global growth and innovation
 

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.

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

Your browser does not support the video tag.

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.

Read More

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: Optimizing portfolio and program management in Financial Services

The Consulting Playbook, Edition #21
Keeping the Momentum After Years of Continuous Growth in Financial Services
A major Financial Services company experiencing rapid growth for many years (both in assets under management and staff) faced a number of issues with it. The industry has become increasingly complex with methods and products ever more sophisticated, as the assets under management grew to over $100B, the management required help in identifying clear goals, in pace with the growth. The operations started lagging behind demand and an impediment in overall strategy implementation was starting to shape up. The Consultant had the major task of identifying discrepancy and pain points in operations, as well as to discover new opportunities in efficiency to enable growth.
Diagnosis and Aligning New Roles for the Organization

A comprehensive organizational diagnostic was carried out for all ongoing activities and projects. They were later divided in to 6 groups – business programs with clear outcomes and goals identified (technology, tools, processes, governance, …)
A project management office was developed simultaneously with roles, responsibilities and governance for each business unit defined
High level evaluation of capacity versus commitment was performed identifying operations issues
A Steering Committee was put in place with focus on business programs, staffing, and all accountabilities across the entire organization

The Successful Outcome Produced Measurable Results
The Investment Department and Operations were aligned with an increased management focus, and facilitated coordination between them through the full operating model. A central management office was established with the following roles:

Proactively manage the portfolio of initiatives – current and future ones
New program management approach implemented that was centered around defined business outcomes

Prioritization and capacity planning was significantly improved including the resource allocation process. Equipped with this new governance and redesigned decision processes, the company continued its growth and successfully weathered recent headwinds from the financial industry.

Additional Information

Priority Issues Asset Managers Need to Address
The Asset management industry is under pressure, and a number of hot issues affecting the present, will also shape its future. The core of the problem is the main industry structure has been designed to benefit asset managers and intermediaries, and not the beneficiaries and asset owners to same extent. As socio-economic conditions evolve, the mission of the investment management is re-aligning as well with an increased focus on collective return to all investors, and sustainable business growth.
The following issues should be viewed as priorities:

Business model augmentation with changes in the beneficiary designation
Push to lower fees to match decreased revenues
Higher risk tolerance is becoming more common as the search for higher yield requires more risk than most investors are comfortable with
Regulation emerges from supervision to transformation – Department of Labor fiduciary rules will push for lower fees and for further adoption of passives/ETFs, low-fee players, boosting large, etc.
Relationship matter – winning and retaining clients. Customer experience in the new world is about execution for marketing effectiveness, productivity increases and moving jobs to lower-cost locations.
For institutional managers the human touch is key. Presentation skills are more critical than ever, as the role of consultants increases too.
Improved client profiling, data analytics and operational flexibility will help serve more effectively the diverse client base.
Data-driven decision-making and highly skilled application of it, will help asset managers gain an advantage in an increasingly complex market.
Relationships with Consultants with the advance of solution-based investment products, are becoming more vital. The need for up-to-date investment knowledge on behalf of the consultancy, will also affect the performance of the portfolio management team, they collaborate with.

For Further Reading

Asset Management 2020: A Brave New World
Investment Management Outlook 2017
The $64 trillion question: Convergence in asset management

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.

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?

The Hottest Applications in AI

Artificial Intelligence and its application is no longer a far-fetched future, but more and more an everyday reality. All kinds of technologies will adopt AI components and procedures and various industries will experience its tremendous impact.
Greater efficiency in all types of sectors, unbridled creativity, reduced human error, much higher productivity are some of the key contributions AI will inevitably deliver.
The main areas of application of AI include:
1. More Effective Decision Management
AI systems operate on rules and logic. They are especially suitable in a wide variety of enterprise applications, assisting in or performing automated decision-making. Some of the  vendors in that area are Advanced Systems Concepts, Informatica, Maana, and Pegasystems.
2. Biometrics – The Interaction of Machines and Humans
Biometrics is still in its early stages, but it has a solid future ahead. Mainly there is a lot of improvement to be made in how people and machines interact. That includes imaging, touch recognition, speech recognition, and reading body language. Some of the companies developing the applications currently are Affectiva, Agnitio, FaceFirst, Sensory and Tahzoo.
3. NLP: Natural language processing (NLP) and Text Analytics
Facilitating the understanding of a sentence structure, meaning, emotion, and intent via statistical and machine learning methods is currently under development. The areas that will benefit the most are fraud detection and security, automated assistants, and mining unstructured data. Companies working in that field currently are Basis Technology, Coveo, Expert System, Indico, Knime, Lexalytics, Linguamatics, Mindbreeze, Sinequa, Stratifyd, and Synapsify.
4. Deep Learning Platforms – Artificial neural networks with multiple abstraction layers
Currently primarily used in pattern recognition and classification applications supported by very large data sets. Ersatz Labs, MathWorks, Peltarion, Saffron Technology, and Sentient Technologies are currently developing applications.
5. Robotic Process Automation
The task here is how to automate human action using scripts to support efficiently business processes. Currently these applications are used where it’s too expensive or inefficient for humans to execute a task. Main vendors in that field include: Advanced Systems Concepts, Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism, UiPath, and WorkFusion.
Despite the many business benefits AI technologies can deliver, there are certainly obstacles to AI adoption. Some companies and industries are reluctant to invest or are just not very interested in AI. These are sectors and jobs where machines will not be able to replace humans as easily.

Consulting Playbook: How a Merger Achieved Synergy in the Product Development Process

The Consulting Playbook, Edition #11
One of the leading Aerospace and Defense companies undertook a major transformation when a merger of several companies took place. To ensure the successful integration, the Head of Integration needed help. The main priorities of the company were secure: Integration of the overall organization, Increase Corporate Performance, and Enable efficiency and collaboration on all levels.
To speed up and facilitate the process, they requested external support in the definition and application of a new Product Development Process reference that would allow a proper alignment on through a backbone process of the company.
A 3-Step Approach to Deliver the Desired Results
The Consultant focused their efforts on building a collaborative environment and helping all parties understand the process with the application of stage gates and dedicated development phases.
A Multi-Step Approach was applied to achieve the desired objectives:

Definition of the development timeframe, with specific sequence in stage gates
Synchronization of the development, design and delivery of key components and systems
Implementation of collaborative approaches to manage concurrent development, product lifecycle and interdependencies.
Review the main criteria to determine each stage gate adjustments to the sub-processes to achieve the expected performance (lead time, reliability, etc.) through multiple sub-projects involving experts of all legacy companies.

This new approach was implemented on the new strategic project from the company embarking employees from all legacy companies in the journey.
Beneficial Impact of the Consultancy, Following the Merger
The successful completion of the project, to the client’s satisfaction, achieved the following:

The new Product Development Process accomplished reduction of development lead times, more effective and realistic expectations, better collaboration of various teams
Improved planning and management of development programs in collaboration with functions
An overall cost reduction of 20% vs. previous similar projects.

Additional Information

New Product Development in 4 Simple Stages
Companies and entrepreneurs often feel the need to introduce new products. And depending on the industry you are in; the process might be less or quite complex. But without new products, extension line of existing products and innovation, it is tough to stay competitive, relevant and profitable in the long run. As technology constantly evolves, so are customers’ needs.
Let’s look at a typical new product development stages and what is the most efficient way to proceed with new product idea.

Generation and Evaluation of Product Ideas

To greenlight an idea, it’s best to have a few brainstorm sessions with your team, and the people whose decisions and opinions matter, decide on the best idea, then go to the next stage. Your new product ideas can come from a variety of sources such as: your employees, your boss, competitors, and even customers. Evaluate carefully the pros and cons of each idea, and then decide on the feasibility of pursuing it. It’s estimated that a third of new product ideas originate from users and customers. At this initial stage, often a niche market research is required, to get a deeper understanding of the potential of the new product idea.

Testing

The journey of the great new idea to the market, continues with development of a Product concept. Once you have this ready, you can test the sample with consumers and team members, capture their reactions and make further adjustments as necessary. After the testing is completed and the product features finalized, the new product can scale up into production.

Customized Marketing Strategy

Even the greatest product can fail without a well-planned marketing strategy and sufficient support to promote it. The marketing strategy typically will consist of: identification of the target market and demographics, branding and positioning, sales and market share projections for the first one or two years. It’s essential to also identify the main distribution channels, pricing, marketing budget, and profit goals.

Mass production and Commercialization of the New product

With the marketing strategy set, and the Business analysis completed, the Management team will decide on the next and final stage – commercialization of the new product. The cost of manufacturing, marketing and advertising of a new product, can be quite high, so the Management should consider all the factors like timing, region, logistics, important events, etc, for the official launch and initial distribution of the new product.
Since for many companies, time is of the essence, a new and more flexible approach is being introduced: close collaboration and simultaneous development of the new product by the parties involved, to complete it and launch sooner.
Saving time and money is always a winning proposition to businesses and customers alike when developing new products.
 
For Further Reading:

This is how Apple’s top secret product development process works
Eight Simple Steps for New Product Development
8 Step Process Perfects New Product Development

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.

Loading

Most Recent

8 of the Hottest Industries Ready for Disruption According to Experts

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.

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.

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

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.

Loading

Most Popular

Loading

Top 5 Articles

Loading

Top 5 Articles

Loading

Hot off the Press !

Links

Authors Wanted !

Want to contribute to the Consulting Wiki? 

Your content is awesome and it is obviously missing from the Wiki?

Sign-up here, and we'll get back to you in the blink of an eye

Follow Us