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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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This Week in Consulting:Technology is not the only driver for Change in Procurement.

This Week in Consulting

Wednesday, October 23rd  2019

Technology is not the only driver for Change in Procurement.Talent is one too.

THIS WEEK’S MUST READ
“The expectation of procurement is changing. Procurement leadership is challenged to develop strategies that map more closely to business priorities, delivering results to maintain high levels of executive support.”
Talent shortage and talent management have been on the agenda of procurement leadership teams for many years. Tom Graham  investigates why this gap continues to exist.
This Week’s Must Read is an insight piece from Spend Matters where guest  Tom Graham, from  Berwick Partners, explains how the needs for talent in procurement is changing, but the approach to recruitment is still the  same.
Read on to Find out More: “The Future Talent Shortage Within The Procurement Industry “ | Spend Matters,Tom Graham, from  Berwick Partners.

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THIS WEEK’S VIDEO:

How can procurement work with HR to attract, retain and develop the best possible talent?​

THOUGHT LEADERSHIP

Meeting in the Middle: Procurement and HR for Total Talent Management: “Organizations are seeing the benefits of hiring in an on-demand capacity as short-term and contractual positions offer greater flexibility and speed the time to fill specific project needs. These alternative roles are becoming even more important as options for candidates are increasingly limited – in the near zero unemployment U.S. labor market, organizations are battling for the same resources and need to find ways to expand the talent pool.”The article present how HR and procurement can collaborate to efficiently source the right talents. | Workforce Logic
In the digital transformation of procurement, humans remain front and centre: “As the economy has shifted – particularly in the UK – away from manufacturing and into the services sector, with business functions increasingly outsourced, Powell has noticed a shift in the scale of buying and the emphasis on supplier relationship management in order to maintain value for an organisation, as well as bringing innovation and competitive advantage, has grown.” In the article, Richard Powell goes over the changes occurrent in procurement over the last 25 years, and gives his perspective on the impact of digital transformation. | Olivia Minnock, Supply Chain Digital
How Can Procurement Create a Competitive Advantage in Talent Acquisition: “83% of respondents in a recent survey made by the US Society for Human Resource Management have had trouble recruiting the right candidates over the last 12 months. 75% of them believe it is due to a skills shortage among applicants. More and more companies report facing this talent shortage. One might ask: “how can there be a talent shortage and simultaneously somewhat concerning unemployment levels in some countries?”Can we apply a sound make or buy strategy to talent acquisition? What would be the impact of involving procurement in talent recruitment? This piece from Arnaud Malarde goes over the benefits of looking at talent acquisition from a procurement perspective. | Arnaud Malarde, HR Tecnologist
The Next-Generation Procurement Talent Profile: “Research by The Hackett Group indicates dramatic changes in the nature of work are imminent as a result of rapid maturing and adoption of so called “smart automation” technologies. Tens of millions of enterprise roles, including millions in business service functions, will be affected, as rules-based, routine work and basic cognitive tasks are automated, and knowledge work is transformed through augmented intelligence.”Procurement is changing indeed, and the impact on the talent needed is inevitable. What will the next generation procurement professional look like? This article presents The Hackett Group’s research on the impact of digital transformation on procurement roles and needed skills. | Angela Caswell-LaPierre, Erik Dorr and Tony DiRomualdo, The Hackett Group

TRENDS
On the same theme,here is a selection of conferences that you might find useful
 
Data, Intelligence & Technology Forum : The 4th annual DIT Forum will guide you through the next stage in your digital journey, exploring how to elevate your digital strategy and scale solutions across the organisation and further.
 
The Asia Pacific Procurement Congress 2019 : focus on how you can overcome these challenges and more, ensuring your function’s strategy delivers maximum value to your wider business.

CONSULTING INDUSTRY NEWS

Developing skills in the management consulting industry: “Calvert Markham, Director at the Centre for Management Consulting Excellence, has published the most recent editions of two consulting books first released thirty years ago. Markham reflects on how the skills of management consultants have evolved on the back of the industry’s changing face.” | Consultancy.uk
Cognizant Set to Buy Technology Consulting Firm Contino: “The DevOps approach to cloud migration, core modernization and cloud security is reshaping how enterprises in all industries are building their infrastructures. This new set of holistic cloud capabilities from Contino will enable us to offer and more readily deploy transformative cloud-based solutions.”  | The Economic Times
BCG Acquires Design Consultancy AllofUs to Expand Design Capabilities: “Boston Consulting Group (BCG), one of the world’s leading management consulting firms, announced today that it has acquired AllofUs, a leading design consultancy based in London. The acquisition will broaden and deepen BCG’s overall digital offerings and strengthen its design capabilities in particular.” |Boston Consulting Group
Aon, CIL, Deloitte and GK Strategy win private equity award: “Unquote, a platform for Europe’s private equity landscape, has unveiled the winners of its British Private Equity Awards.” | Consultancy.uk

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

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About Consulting Quest

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

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What to look at when reviewing consulting proposals? Your Top 17 Questions Answered.

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“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst you can do is nothing. ” – Theodore Roosevelt

Consulting projects are all about initiative and being proactive. Starting with your winning RFP process that has attracted a score of proposals, the assessment phase now begins. Keep in mind that the real goal is solving a problem for your company, not simply buying a service.
Let’s talk about the quality of a proposal and touch on some important and relevant points.
1. How the most promising proposals differ from the rest? 
So you have received a sufficient number of proposals. On an extensive project, your short-list might still be significant. So if you want to spend enough time on each proposal, funnel down to potential winners, and set aside the rest. Think of the process as a funnel into which you pour all the proposals.
At the narrow end, you will have the most promising proposals. At the very least, these meet every one of your RFP’s criteria. The proposals are convincing, and you have a clear picture of how the project would unfold. The number of proposals is adequate, considering the strategic importance and the budget of the project.
A bit higher up the funnel are the proposals that are slightly off-track but still workable. Maybe they have a good rationale but have missed an inconsequential step. You want to avoid eliminating a potential gem too early in the process.
At the very top of the funnel are the proposals that are off-topic or too generic. Resist the impulse to dismiss all the other proposals, not yet. And keep in mind the process is not over until you have signed a contract with your preferred consulting provider. Don’t rush into rejecting the second-runner. You’d be surprised to learn how many first-runners are disqualified during the negotiation process.
Don’t overlook a proposal from an upstart consulting provider with a great idea but less than desirable proposal-writing/presenting skills. There might be a way to implement that idea, in part or fully, into your business solution.
Be careful not to burn bridges when you send your response to potential consulting suppliers with rejected proposals, regardless of how you view their current bid. Here’s why: in an environment of rapid change, these consultants may evolve into great partners or future suppliers.

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2. How a team of proposal evaluators improves your chance for success? 
You have now the proposals in hand that, at first glance, meet your eligibility requirements and your other basic criteria. It’s time to get serious and pick your evaluation team.
Who might be a part of your team of reviewers? Procurement professionals naturally, and the person in charge of the consulting budget, if any. You should also include the main stakeholders, such as the project sponsor and representants of the functions directly impacted. Perhaps a senior executive or two, who has experience with consulting. Ideally, the team of reviewers should be the team that worked on the RFP.
Seeking input from a range of stakeholders helps to ensure that the evaluation process is perceived as fair and is more likely to result in selecting the best proposal for your project.
If your team lacks deep experience in the area of procurement processes, consider including a qualified and experienced consultant on the team to help you build a process designed to procure the best solution for your company.

3. How a team of proposal evaluators improves your chance for success? 
It is essential to make sure that all your evaluators agree on a few basic principles:

The winning proposal must answer your project’s objectives.
The chosen approach will reinforce and support the overall purpose of the project.
The consultants must have the right competencies.
The selected consulting suppliers must be a good fit for your corporate culture.

Agree on the type of approach that would be best considering the context of the project and your culture. Maybe you are looking for an innovative, original, breakthrough, or transformational approach that your company can leverage to accelerate your strategy. Alternatively, you may want a proven and reliable approach.
Ask the team to review the proposed solutions along the lines of problem resolution, clarity, internal consistency, and ease of implementation, as well as outside-the-box approaches.
4. What are the necessary and critical requirements for the Consulting firm?
There are some prerequisites to work with your company. And making a preliminary check can disqualify a consulting provider right away and save you some time.

Consulting firm eligibility

Many companies have a strict registration process that includes lengthy verifications. Make sure that your consulting firm is already registered, or your project eligible for an exceptional procedure.

Proposal compliance

It might sound bureaucratic, but it will give you a sense of the commitment of the consultants and their ability to serve your needs. A consultant that remits a proposal late, incomplete, or not compliant to the format has either not understood your needs or doesn’t want to adapt to your ways. In both cases, you have a problem.

Ethics and values alignment

Working with the wrong consulting firm can hurt your reputation internally and externally. Make sure that your supplier’s values are aligned with yours.

Potential conflicts of interest check

Some internal consulting groups are providing consulting to external clients. Working with the main competitors from their parent company would clearly be a conflict of interest.

Employees work authorization

With the globalization of the consulting projects, more and more clients are looking for providers outside their regular market. It is not unusual for a European company to win a project with a U.S. company, and vice versa. When you are working with a company that will fly their consultants to your premises, make sure they are authorized to work in the country and your industry.
5. How the Consultant sees and understands the objectives?
Obviously, you are bringing the consulting provider to help you achieve a certain goal. You want them to understand well your objectives and help you identify and implement a solution.
6. Has the consultant properly researched your company’s context?
A bid with limited details about your needs usually screams a narrow understanding of your business, a rushed or a generic proposal, or all of the above. Be uncompromising on that point.
7. Did the consultant reformulate your needs and put them in context?
You want to make sure that the consultant answers your questions and adds some value, rather than just copy-pasting your RFP.
8. Is the proposal introducing elements that don’t seem related?
Several reasons can explain this phenomenon. The first option, you are facing a “cookie-cutter” syndrome. The Consultant is copy-pasting a previous proposal for your project. The second option, they have seen an objective that you had missed in your RFP. In both cases, you want to challenge the consultant to make sure the deliverables are right for your company. You need to buy what you need and only what you need.
9. Do the deliverables completely satisfy you?
Once you have made sure that the consultants have understood what you were trying to do, you want to check if the deliverables they have included in the proposal will indeed answer your questions.
Clearly listed main deliverables
It is essential to ensure the Consultants have answered all the key points of the scope, and that you can compare the core of the proposals.
Back to your RFP, identify all the expected deliverables, and check one by one if they are included in the proposal. Get a sense of what is outside the scope in the bid. Sometimes the consultants take the initiative to reorganize the deliverables and regroup them. Make sure all your initial deliverables are still there.
Additional deliverables relevant to your needs
In some cases, the consultants add deliverables that were not listed in the RFP. Have a close look at how they relate to your main objectives. It can be an interesting addition or just a way for the consultant to increase the scope (and the price). If the deliverable is relevant, ask yourself if it is a must-have or a nice-to-have.
10. Do you trust their approach?
Does the proposed approach support your objectives?
Evaluate the approach proposed by the Consulting provider. Is it what you had in mind? Does it make sense? Is it adapted to your needs? What are the potential limitations of the approach that the consultant is suggesting? Will this approach support a proper buy-in?
11. Is the timeline proposed aligned with your expectations?
Does the timeline match your internal objectives? If not, is it a major issue? Have the consultants explained why they changed the timeline?
12. Is the phasing consistent with the one in your RFP?
Consultants love to cut a project into multiple phases. When you compare the different proposals, make sure that each phase contains the same work and the same deliverables. It is not uncommon to see a Consulting firm descope or underprice the first phase to win the project and generate more substantial costs in further phases.
For very large projects, we recommend to include phasing and commit only to the first phase in the first RFP. The further phases will be handled through another RFP. It will force the winner of the first project to do a good job, and remit competitive pricing at each phase of the project.
13. Is the governance of the project well defined?
Sometimes the difference in price for two proposals comes from the difference of responsibilities (and thus workload) of the consultants vs. your teams. How will the governance of the project be organized? How is the project managed at the steering level? At the working level? What support from your teams is expected at each stage of the project?
14. Is the project resourced properly?
Considering the workload associated with the project, does the staffing seem sufficient? And on the opposite, does the team seem oversized?
15. Will you have enough bandwidth to contribute?
Successful execution is based on cooperation and a balanced workload. Will you and your team have enough availability to support the project?
16. Is the project team senior enough? Will they be credible with your teams?
What is the level of seniority of the partner in charge? Is he taking the responsibility of the project or delegating that to someone more junior? What is the level of experience of the project team? Will this work with your teams?
17. Are you confident the consultant will work well with your teams?
And last but not least, looking at the interactions you had and the composition of the team, do you expect this consultant to work well with you and your teams? And to be a good fit?

Ready to get started on your next project?
We will be happy to help.
Please give us a call today, at no obligation, and let’s get the conversation started.

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The Importance of the Other Elements in your Consulting RFP – 8 Points to Consider

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“The whole is more than the sum of its parts.” – Aristotle.

Synergy is really what most Clients and Consultants aim for when joining forces on a project. There are logic and advantage in synergy, and that’s how a single project creates extra value.
The best way to view your Consulting project is this: You are not making a purchase, but solving a problem – don’t look at the means, but focus more on the outcomes you expect from the project.
When you work on your RFP, there are 8 points to consider in regards to the other elements:
1. Approach to the selection process  –
Clarity and transparency in the selection process matters a lot and can make a big difference in the quality of the product you will receive. You need to communicate and describe to the prospective providers how the selection process will unfold.
First, let’s outline the key milestones for the RFP process. It is important for consulting candidates to understand how much time they have to prepare and submit their proposal. It will also give them an idea on when the project could start.
Usually, at this point, you should have signed a Non Disclosure Agreement with the potential candidates. Even if this step is not mandatory, we highly recommend protecting your confidentiality.

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2. Stages in the RFP process –

Distribution of the RFP and intention to Bid
Questions and Answers pre-proposal submission (Answers should be shared with all participants)
Timeframe for the reception of the proposals
Short-list and feedback
Presentations
Selection
Project kick of

3. Stakeholders engagement –
It’s advisable to get several stakeholders involved. They can participate in the selection committee, and organize face to face discussions with the finalist (or you can leverage new technologies like Skype, Zoom, and Google hangouts).
And now let’s have a look at the proposal’s content.

4. Proposal’s content –

Give some background information about who you are – Unless you are working exclusively with companies you already know (but not always a good idea), you need to let them know about your organization.
Explain the context of the assignment – A project is rarely unidimensional. Understanding the political and technical implications of a project is key to design a customized solution to your problems.
Detail your expectations in plain English – Put on paper the benefits and documents you expect from the project but also the constraints you might have.

To enable proper comparisons, do not hesitate to specify in your RFP a few expectations of the proposal and from the consultant, for example, you can include:

A description of the objectives pursued, the approach and deliverables, the planning for the project highlighting the key milestones as well as the project management structure proposed (including the contribution required from the client).
Demonstration of competence, also the consulting firm should provide references on similar projects (industry/capability), the CVs of the actual consultants that are expected to work on the project and examples of thought leadership they have produced in the field.
Fees and workload should be detailed enough to enable a clear understanding of the cost structure associated with the project.

Finally, you should describe how the Q&A between sending RFP and receiving the proposal will be organized. When should the question be sent? How will the answers be shared with the consulting providers.
5. Sharing your decision’s criteria –
Your selection criteria and expectations of the proposal have to be explicit. In principle, you know already how you will perform the selection. If not, well, that is the right moment to think about it. Selection criteria are usually a blend of components such as:

The capability of the firm to get the job done – Leveraging feedback from previous clients on previous projects.
The expertise of the firm in the required field – Ideally, the consulting firm should provide some thought leadership or position papers in the niche.
The clarity of the approach and the deliverables – You need to understand if the deliverables are those you expect but also to understand how the consultant intends to get there.
The composition of the team – You need to make sure that the consultants who will work on the project daily have the right seniority and experience.
The fit with the company – In short, do you think you will work well together? Will they have the right impact and recognition with your peers?
The price of the project – Can you afford their services? Are you getting a clear value for your money? Are there hidden fees to be considered?

As you can see, these considerations are much broader than the sole price. Even though there is no magic formula using clear criteria, communicating them to the Consulting firms early in the process is key for getting a high-quality proposal, and taking informed and fair decisions. 
6. Providing schedule and budget clues –
Whether your project is urgent or not, you likely have a timeline in mind. Or at least some internal deadlines or meetings. Knowing your schedule for the project is key for the consulting candidates. It will directly impact the team composition and the cost of the project.
Users and buyers rarely include their budget in the RFP. However, if you are on a very tight budget, it can make sense to include that information in the RFP to make sure that you don’t lose time for proposals you cannot afford. Besides, the consultants will be able to come up with trade-offs or design-to-cost proposals.
7. Indicating your other requirements –
You might have other requirements that you want to include in your RFP. For instance, you might be interested in having references and contact information to check the references. You can also have some eligibility criteria linked to your internal procurement policies. Maybe your consulting providers have to be registered as a provider.
8. Giving a single point of contact –
You also need to define the main point of contact during the process. Will it be someone from procurement, one of the executives, or even a third party? All the interactions with Consulting firms during the RFP process should go through that person. Letting the Consulting firms connect directly with the Executives of their choice would give an advantage to the incumbents and distort the competition.

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

Book your call

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How to Improve the Scoping of Your Consulting Project with These 7 Powerful Techniques

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“More important than the quest for certainty is the quest for clarity.” – Francois Gautier

The most important factor probably for the success of your Consulting project, is the “why” behind it. What is the purpose of launching your new project, and what are your main expectations of it? As we talked about crafting an effective RFP and engaging in talks with a few prospective Consulting providers, you will gradually sharpen your view and clarify all aspects of the project. Clarity is extremely important and based on many years of experience, we’ve made a short list comprised of the most effective techniques you can use.
1. Set the scope right  –
It is not unusual to realize when you start explaining your needs that you are embracing a scope too large, or that the project could be broken down into smaller pieces. The main objective here is to provide a high-level overview of the problem. And adjust the scope that is best suited to the purpose of the entire project.

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2. Provide the basics and be precise   –
Start with giving the basics. What is the state of your industry? What are the main challenges you are facing? What have you done so far? What would you like the Consultant to help you with? Here is a good example to help you grasp the points: “Slow Economic Growth in Europe, in particular, compared to other markets, has limited the growth of the Insurance Industry. After a slight increase in 2017, growth went down again in 2018. In 2016, new European regulations, namely Solvency 2, started to get implemented. As a result, the pressure on risk and compliance functions increased significantly. European politics could also impact the regulatory stance in major markets.
As a result, Risk is becoming more than ever a core function in the organization. Insurers need to adjust business processes and strategies to this new environment.
In 2017, Insurance Co created a Risk and Compliance team at the group level to supervise the implementation of Solvency 2 in the different business units.
Insurance Co would like now to review the various options for organizing its risk activities at the corporate and business unit level and identify the most efficient set-up while taking into account the position of the regulators on this critical matter.”
At first sight, it sounds like a simple organization design project. However, if you look closer, some key elements seem to be missing.

The context doesn’t give any information about the results of the existing Risk and Compliance team. Why does the corporate team want to re-organize the risk function only two years after the creation of the team?
There is no mention of the political dimension of the corporate relationship with business units, which is often a key element in an organization project.

It might also be interesting to provide some benchmark on existing models and anticipate the position of the regulator.

3. Give a clear idea of where you are in the process   –
Your Consultant needs to know all these elements that will help them understand exactly where you are on the path to success, and design a proposal customized to your needs.
You can also define the high-level questions you want to answer with the project, such as:

What is the existing performance of the industrial set-up? How do we compare it with the competitors’?
What are the high- and low-performers by function?
What are the different opportunities to harmonize the organization structure?
What are the best options to improve the efficiency of the organization based on an internal benchmark?
For each option, what would be the impact/risks to consider? The associated costs and potential benefits?

A first high-level assessment shows a potential of 7% of savings that will contribute to the overall synergy objective of the merger.”
4. Write the description   –
Once the context is set, you can move to the description of your requirements for the project. In your RFP make sure to integrate the questions consulting firms would ask to be able to provide the solution tailored to your needs. You can use a sparring partner or another member of your team to review it and ensure the context is clear and accurate.
5. Focus on the value Consultants will bring  –
There are many ways consultants can generate value on a project, but very few of them can guess what you expect if you don’t state it plainly. The best way to start is to reformulate your problem statement at the start of this section.
Remind the consulting firms included in the RFP process what are the objectives, and the expected outcomes. If you have specific expectations regarding benefits, now is probably a good time to express them.
The high-level objective can be clearly defined in a few lines. However, many roads if not all of them are leading to Rome.  You might need to add some precisions on the scope, the level of confidentiality and also who should be involved on your end as well as your timeline for the project.
6. Aim for clarity with “what” not “how” to do it  –
There is a fine balance when describing the expected deliverables. Some companies tend to provide the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ at the same time. However, as soon as you start describing how the consulting firm should produce the deliverables, you lose the creativity and the experience an external provider can bring in. You automatically reduce the consulting firm to an externalized workforce. This situation can work if you know very well the job to be done but it does not constitute a best practice.
Our experience shows that, even if you might be tempted to specify the methodology, it is important to leave room for the consultants to propose how they would approach the issue. This allows to adjust later on and will most often provide you with fresh perspective.
7. Add any important additional information  –
Each project is different, and often clients can omit details that pertain to the project, their circumstances, or the niche market. Do not hesitate to add additional information that could be implicit for you but Consultants who are less familiar with your company cannot anticipate:

Do you expect the consultant to do everything on his own or do you anticipate a joint team?
Will the work be performed on site?
Is there a preferred location? Specific language requirements maybe?
Do you have specific requests regarding knowledge transfer at the completion of the project?
Are there additional “side questions” that should be addressed?

And now the final key question –
Describe how you intend to proceed with the selection process? This way, you can guarantee a fair process and ensure that Consulting companies will decide to participate.

Ready to launch your next project?
We will be happy to help. Please give us a call today, at no obligation.
And let’s get the conversation started

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Best Proven Techniques to Position and Prioritize Your Consulting Needs and Find the Right Consultants

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“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.” – Stephen R. Covey

Prioritization is the key to understanding and solving the needs your organization faces. And we have a few proven and powerful tips on evaluating your situation to help you prioritize your needs.
1. Your ideal provider according to 6 key markers –
We discussed in our previous blog post the necessity of defining your key markers; now you can start positioning your ideal company on different dimensions. Depending on the context of your project, and the expected results, you can define where on these dimensions, your potential providers need to be. For instance, a small IT company based in Tunisia wants to enter a new market: Fintech. They are curious about understanding the value chain and identifying opportunities for their company.

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They have identified six key markers for potential suppliers:

Capability: The consulting provider needs to have experience in market entry and growth strategy.
Industry Experience: The consulting provider they need has a broad knowledge of the Fintech industry, and the major trends internationally and regionally.
Footprint: They are looking at a company based either in North Africa or in Europe to limit the additional expenses and get access to high-level expertise.
Budget: The Company has a small budget for the diagnosis part. They are looking at an independent consultant or a very small boutique.
Delivery Model: The Company is building a new structure. They want a high-level strategic approach integrating the internal and external political aspects. They also want their team to learn more about Fintech in the process.
Culture: They are looking for consultants that can speak either Arabic or French and have experience working in North Africa.

You will very rarely find a perfect match to this ideal Consulting “DNA profile”.
However, it’s the best starting point to search for the next best match for a project.

 
2. Prioritization of your needs – the effective approach –
Prioritization is different and unique to every company and every project. The project sponsor and the project manager have probably an idea of what is more important to them. Is it skill over industry knowledge? Or culture over footprint? Budget over skills?
Understanding the priority for each dimension will help you narrow down your list of potential providers. With both the markers, the ideal position on each marker and the level of priority for each dimension, you will be able to draw an “Ideal Consulting DNA Profile” for your project.
3. Finding the best match – Internal or External sources –
When you know what you are looking for, you can start searching for the right fit.
As you focus on building the right team of experts, it can be tempting to source external consultants directly. But we wouldn’t be doing our job right if we didn’t encourage you to perform a short make-or-buy assessment of your project.
Can your project be done in-house? Do you have the right resources? Do you need external knowledge? Is there some confidential IP involved? Can the project be partially outsourced?
These questions are particularly relevant if you have internal consulting or improvement/excellence teams.
There are several tools you can use to start your search.
Internal Sources

Your Company might already have a List of Preferred Providers, an internal database of Consulting Firms, or a list of Consulting Firms in your field.
Your network/colleagues that have worked previously with Consultants might have a few recommendations (or warnings).
You may have a database of evaluation reports or previous bids where you can find some interesting information.

External Sources

A Directory of Consulting firms, such as the Consulting Quest Directory that organizes Consulting firms per region, capability and industry served.
Articles and books written on the field you are interested in
A List of professional associations in your industry or in the capability you need
A plain and simple Google Search (or Qwant or DuckDuckGo searches)

Don’t hesitate to use several sources to find new experts. And don’t forget to assess each company based on your criteria even if you have worked successfully with them previously or found them a little short on a previous proposal.
4. Building a preliminary List of potential players –
Your first step is to build a preliminary list of potential players. The size of your project will impact the length of your list. For instance, if you have to source a mid-sized project and you are aiming to compare three potential providers, you should include roughly fifteen to twenty companies in your first search. 
Once your list is ready, you can contacting the companies to make sure they are indeed a god fit. As a rule of thumb, you should consider 30% of the companies that don’t have the right Consulting “DNA Profile” and 30% that are not available or interested in the project.
The next step is to identify among the potential players the three providers that are the best fit with your criteria and start the RFP process. 

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How to Streamline Your Sourcing Process So You Can Have More Time for Things You Love – Golf, Tennis, Travelling Perhaps?

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We do not imply that you don’t love the sourcing process when selecting Consultants, but we like to talk about a few methods that can make it way more effective.
Ready? Here is how you build a perfect sourcing process with little margin for error.
Our top 8 tips you can easily apply are listed below:
 
1. Get the NDA Assurance –
This simple agreement with your Consulting providers can go a long way in protecting you and your business, by keeping the information you share, confidential. Request and offer NDA to be signed at the start of your conversations. It’s really surprising that only 66% of Companies use NDAs systematically when buying Consulting Services. Even the preliminary discussion with a Consulting Firm can contain confidential information that you don’t want to end up in your direct competitor’s lap. We can argue that the people you choose to work with, have business ethics but don’t forget that they sell their knowledge of the industry and the benchmark.
2. Leverage Your Bargaining Power –
Procurement is about bargaining power, and with that said you want it to be on the buyer’s side. You own the budget, the consultants want to work for you, now it is up to you to clearly define the rules and show that you are in control of the process. Use your conditions and your legal materials.

Grow your Consultancy

Since the dawn of the Industrial revolution, Consultants have helped in creating some of the most ambitious and innovative projects around the world.
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3. Use Competition When Relevant – when not – Save Your Time-
There are many advantages to work with familiar consultants. But sometimes the savings are not worth the time and energy spent in organizing the competition among your prospective consultants
There is no need for competition in the following scenarios:

With small projects –

A very small project, when both the cost and the risks are low, does not necessarily require to launch a competition unless you want to shake your existing consulting supplier and reduce the fees. In that case, also work on the reference checking to make sure that they perform well. For small projects, an effective approach can also be to ask your consultants to design their proposal to your target budget.

With unique skills –

On certain projects, where the skills required are very niche and unique, you might not be able to find more than one or two potential suppliers. There is no point in opening a large competition with multiple consultants without proper expertise. Like for a small project, make sure your provider has worked on the matter and has been successful on similar projects.
 

When it’s a sequel project –

Some projects are sequels of previous projects. If you are satisfied with the performance of your Consulting Provider, and you are sure that they have the right skills for the sequel, then it might save you time and energy to work with them. This does not prevent from being very attentive to the fees and to ask for the same competitive rates as during phase 1. In case of continued resistance, just set-up a reduced competition, it should be enough to bring back fees in the realm of reason.

With urgent jobs –

This is a tricky situation. When you are in a rush, you might not have the time to organize a competition. Be mindful of the risks you are taking. If they are too high, maybe you should compare them to the risks you would take in postponing the project to prepare a decent competition. If that is not the case, and you already have in the radar a decent Consulting Provider with the right skills, then you should go for it with a max budget in mind.
4. Improve Proposals’ Evaluation –
Evaluating Consulting Proposals is not easy. It’s really important to decide who will be the main person involved, and the criteria you will be using. There are three key elements to review proposals:

Apply the right criteria

First of all, if your teams have followed the best practices to write an RFP for Consulting Services, they should have defined the first list of criteria. Besides, there are some other criteria that could be integrated into decisions such as ethics, transparency, etc.
Build a list of mandatory criteria. And suggest the list of additional criteria, that can also be used when writing RFPs.

Gather the right team

One of the key success factors for a Consulting Project is to get the buy-in of the main stakeholders. Involving them since the inception of the project is a smart move to get both the best Consulting Firm and your teams on-board.
Define guidelines for building the right team, depending on the type of project. Large projects might need to be examined by Finance, Procurement, Strategy and Business Lines. When working on smaller projects you might need the business lines and a local procurement team.

Score/weight/rank with a common process

You have tried to make the decision-making process as objective as possible. You have defined criteria to evaluate the proposals, and now you need to rank your proposals on these criteria.
If you have mandatory criteria, you might want to associate with mandatory weights (to avoid the workarounds). Then define how the total score will be calculated and the ranking made.
Don’t forget that the exercise is about compromising, and finding the best option for the Company and the different stakeholders.
5. Review References –
Finally, check references. We said it was important when you don’t organize a competition. But to be honest, it is important in any case.

The project has to be relevant to your project

If you have launched a Supply Chain project, you don’t really care if the Consulting Firm has done a Marketing project, even within your industry or a large well-known Company. The reference from your-brother-in law will not be sufficient. You want them to show they have done similar projects successfully.

The references need to be fresh

If you look at some proposals, the Consultants have worked with the most renown Companies. But when you dig a little bit, that was ten to fifteen years ago. What does that say of their current performance? Not much. You want references from projects that took place in the last five years at most.

They need to be about the team in your proposal

The Consulting Firm might have worked on a similar project last year, but with another partner, not one in the proposal. Is it important? Yes. What you want is the best team possible for your project. The partner, or project manager, in charge, needs to have led or at least participated in the projects given as references.
Don’t forget that the success of Consulting Projects is very dependent on the personality and knowledge of the consultant in charge.

You need some help to streamline your sourcing process?Or you just want to discuss about how you source consultants?Don't hesitate to reach out.

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The African Consulting Market is focused on Strategy and Human Capital

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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.

How to choose between Generalist or Specialist Consultants?

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

Source Consultants

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

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

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

Balance your resource allocation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consulting Playbook: Lean Transformation and Effective Measurement of Performance

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The Consulting Playbook, Edition #22
A leading organization with a dozen plants and about 20,000 workers needed help in achieving its performance targets. They had implemented improvement initiatives in all the plants. Every plant was equipped with SAP systems; however, there were discrepancies between the plants in different countries. It became necessary to promptly design a new set of KPIs with definitions, performance, scope/granularity, and frequency set. A dashboard had to be set up in every plant using each local variable—capabilities, ensuring consistency, etc.—to enable cross sites benchmark, centralize the consolidation process, and meet the management’s objectives. The head of manufacturing decided to ask for the help of an external consultant. The goal of the project was to design an effective process to cover the Lean central reporting and to measure the success of the Lean transformation. The issue that prompted this change was the new Lean Initiative rolling out in all the plants without the corresponding KPIs updated
Creating a Dashboard Reflecting the New Performance KPIs
During the first phase, the team gathered both external and internal resources to analyze what measurement system was used by the various plants. Understanding the rationale for this choice along with the differences across sites, what measures could be replicated, and what measures were unique was essential to completing phase 1. This task was completed within 2 to 3 weeks.   The second phase kicked off with a workshop where the outcomes of phase 1 were presented. Teams could understand the extent of the work that had been done and learn from the other sites’ experiences, but they also realized that definitions used from one site to another were not allowing any internal benchmark. During the following 3 months, Lean KPIs were developed, value stream mappings were performed to understand the sources of waste, and Inventory management was reviewed and optimized enabling the optimization of logistic costs. Among the KPIs developed we could find:

Process efficiency KPIs: OEE, Yield, Downtime, Takt Time
Supply Chain Efficiency KPIs: On Time Delivery, Inventory Turnover, Capacity Utilization, Unit Cost
Quality KPIs: Right First Time, Reject Ratio

The newly defined KPIs were then introduced to all the plants. The First Monthly Performance Dashboard was consolidated, creating the baseline to measure future progress and a great support to the visual management. The implementation of those indicators was automated to focus on higher-value activities
A Path Moving Forward Created
The dashboard was created, and the reporting process was set accordingly. A handbook was developed to ensure a proper alignment of practices and definitions, as well as smooth on-boarding of newcomers. But, more importantly, this was the first collective step in the Lean transformation journey. Thanks to the contribution of all the teams in the creation of this joint referential, the mindset change had been initiated. And, thanks to the visual management implemented, this change was made visible to all parties. The Global Lean initiative ultimately exceeded expectations, leading to reduced manufacturing costs and working capital requirements by more than 7% in two years.

Additional Information

Major KPIs for Managers Beyond Manufacturing  
As a manager of any size team, you are likely aware how important KPIs are. In their essence KPIs are indicators measuring your team’s performance. They can also help you understand where your team excels and delivers as expected and where it falls short of expectations or standard. We have created a brief list of essential KPIs to look at when evaluating performance.

Financial Metrics

– Profit – it’s important to evaluate both gross and net profit to get a clear idea of how successful your team is. – Cost – it’s the best indicator of effectiveness and the incentive to make reducing and managing your costs a top priority. – Sales by region – this metric will show which regions are meeting their sales objectives and which are not; a sufficient analysis can allow you to improve these numbers. – LOB Revenue vs Target – it’s necessary to compare your actual revenue vs the projected revenue. – LOB Expenses vs Budget – this is the comparison between your actual overhead and your forecasted budget. If there are any discrepancies, you can revise the plan, improve the team’s performance, and develop a better plan for the department’s budget.

Customer Metrics

– CLV – Customer Lifetime Value – this is not just about minimizing costs and trying to optimize customer acquisition. It’s about a clear understanding of the value your organization gets from each customer long-term. – CAC – Customer Acquisition Cost is another very important metric, which is determined by dividing the total acquisition costs by the number of new customers for a given period. – Customers Satisfaction and Retention – this is a bit broader indicator as you can measure various metrics to evaluate how happy your customers are. There might be underlying and deeper issues that are not entirely under your control, but the goal is clear – have more repeat customers, offer more incentives and long-term customer loyalty programs, and develop customized products, special offers, and services to make sure your customers’ needs are fully met.

People Metrics

– ETR – Employee Turnover Rate – if you like to get a clear idea of how well you are doing in this area, divide the number of employees who have left by the average number of employees, and see if this number seems appropriate. A higher number should prompt you to evaluate working culture, employment remuneration packages, work environment, employee satisfaction, and the like. – Rate of Response to Open Positions – a high percentage of qualified applicants shows that you are getting the best exposure to the job-seeking market. This will give you the best chance of hiring the right candidates and of optimizing your team’s success. – Employees’ Satisfaction – a major and broad indicator, which requires periodic surveys and interviews to determine how you can improve your employees’ well-being, and thus expect their best performance in return.  
For further reading

Key Concepts for Winning Strategies
Top Warehouse Performance KPIs
Five Rules for Selecting the Best KPIs to Drive Operational Improvement
The Value of Key Performance Indicators in a Lean Transformation
18 Key Performance Indicator Examples Defined For Managers

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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 Successfully Manage a Consulting Project in 6 Essential Steps

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

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

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

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

Know the Consulting Industy

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

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

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

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

Ready to launch a Consulting project?
Need a fresh perspective?
We will be happy to help. Please give us a call today, at no obligation to you.

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Consulting Playbook: Lean Manufacturing is Critical to Your Success

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The Consulting Playbook, Edition #1
Real Life Practices Situation –
A large industrial manufacturer was facing serious production issues at one of their plants. The CEO was forced to declare the plant’s current layout and working methods unsustainable. Defects would flow through the whole process spread on multiple manufacturing lines, resulting in an 18-month waiting list, decreasing profitability and unhappy customers.
In addition to the manufacturing lines, the company was dealing with an inflexible union and antiquated labor agreements making the changes needed to take place, difficult to implement and to maneuver.  The CEO asked the VP of Operations to analyze two possible scenarios:
A) Keep the plant or B) Create a new one in a lower cost region.
They brought in a third party to analyze the two options before them and after a careful review, decided to launch a transformation on the existing facilities.
With increased pressure on profitability and the displacement of thousands of jobs at stake, there were difficult choices that had to be made in the best interest of the company and its employees.
The Better Plan of Action –
After a quick diagnostic showed opportunities to reduce waste, standardize activities and significantly increase the quality level, the consultant and the management team came to the conclusion that the plant, as well as several other plants in the region, could be saved through a Lean Manufacturing Transformation.
However, the journey was only starting as they now had to carry out the change without disrupting the operations. The key principle was to shift from the top-down operating model to a new scheme where the operators generating the value were supported by the rest of the organization.
The consultant worked with the top management on that vision, shared the diagnostic, made sure that everyone was on-board with the rationale for change and general direction, and then worked with them to lay out the plan to reach their goals.
A large-scale, collaborative plan identifying improvement opportunities was put in place. Along with that, a specific training for operators to simulate the new work environment preparing them for the change ahead, was put in place. The consultant also developed specific methods for the leadership to support, and champion the change.  The change process and continuous improvement initiatives incorporated different team members at every level of the organization, ensuring the project’s success and fluidity.
The Results and the Benefits –
The new and more efficient plant was designed to boast the same production volume with only two thirds of the previous workforce.  The adjustments made spurred huge cost savings contributing to an increase in the overall profit margins, and sending the stock price soaring over the next 3 years. They were also able to reduce the manufacturing surfaces by more than half, as well as revise the existing labor agreements to more beneficial ones.

Additional Information

What is Lean Manufacturing?
The simplest definition of it is – system of methods designed to eliminate waste within a manufacturing process. Lean Manufacturing or lean production centers around three main components:

Elimination of waste (“Muda”) within a manufacturing system
Control over waste created through overburden (“Muri”)
Waste created through inconsistency in workloads (“Mura”)

Essentially, lean manufacturing is all about adding value and reducing everything else – expense, time, efforts, and so on. In today’s fast paced world of business, communication and commerce, Lean manufacturing is an extremely powerful approach to secure an organization’s success.
Main Lean Production Principles
They originated in the Japanese manufacturing industry. The term was first coined by John Krafcik in his 1988 article, “Triumph of the Lean Production System,” based on his master’s thesis at the MIT Sloan School of Management.
Toyota’s view is that the main method of lean is not the tools, but the reduction of three types of waste: muda (“non-value-adding work”), muri (“overburden”), and mura (“unevenness”) exposing this way any problems or inefficiencies in the process.
Lean implementation focuses on getting the right things to the right place at the right time in the right quantity to achieve the perfect work flow, while reducing waste and being flexible and willing to change. These concepts however need to be understood, and embraced by the whole organization’s team.
The single point behind “Lean” is to make the work simple enough to understand, to do and manage.
Lean Manufacturing strongly depends on implementing all the core principles through Lean Thinking and the role Lean Leadership plays in overseeing that.
For further reading:

What is Lean?
Lean Manufacturing Transformation
Manufacturing Transformation
Lean Manufacturing Transformation: A Holistic Approach

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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.

An African Consulting Market already significant and with huge Potential

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

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

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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.

Bring In The Right People To Help Your Business Grow

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Last year, Inc. cited several example scenarios of what happens when a consultant’s own brand of ideas conflicts with the company’s values. We’ll spare you the horror and summarize that many of the scenarios led to arguments and stunned reactions from gawking office staff.
No one wants to see that. 
Before hiring a consultant, ask yourself one question: Have your usual consultants the right answer to this specific challenge?
Can Business Consultants Be The Remedy To Stagnation?
Hiring a consultant who has successfully worked for many other companies helps you and your team gain a different perspective. Assuming your own team already has many years working with you, they’ve perhaps fallen into a creative rut on how to approach new challenges.
When you hire a consultant, you’re setting up the promise of bringing more extensive knowledge to areas where you lack knowledge.

Outside knowledge helps you fill in when your own team hasn’t kept up on the latest changes in various aspects of business. Consultants work with every company imaginable and know the realities of what’s going on in the outer world. 
Finding fast solutions is another reason to hire a consultant when your own team feels exhausted in finding creative solutions. Burnout is so easy with in-house employees, especially with few windows of vacation time in marketing departments. Consultants have continual knowledge of new methodologies and are always brainstorming. Creativity is at a higher level, which means faster implementation. 
Consultants diagnose problems as a form of business audit. They scope out issues you may’ve preferred sweeping under the rug, and then they find proper solutions. 
You gain access to a team focused exclusively on your problem, rather than relying on your own team members who are preoccupied by their daily work. By having a team that doesn’t have to worry about their other duties in your company, you can utilize the flexibility and availability of a group of consultants whose entire job is to help solve your business problems.

There is no question about it, using consultants can help you go faster and higher. But the main question remains: How to find the right one ?

Use Consultant Strategically

So, how do you find the right consultant? How do you know if they can actually do what they say they can? What are the real benefits of using a consultant?

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Vetting Your Business Consultant: Finding The One
Finding the right consultant in today’s overcrowded market of consultancies can be a major challenge and a time-intensive project. What you’re looking for is a consultant who is capable, who listens and who is ready to dig in, understand how your business is structured, and strategize for how to solve your most challenging business problems. 
Consulting Quest was started because we saw too many businesses hiring the wrong consultant for the job. We saw hasty consultant hires made at a price that was not appropriate to the value given. Frankly put: the consultants were too expensive for the value they offered. 
We advise you through the hiring process based on what industry you’re in and what capabilities you need help with. Whether it be in the field of energy and utilities or public services, we match you with the most appropriate consultant.
The scoping process of matching the consultant’s capabilities to your needs is an exacting one. Many businesses only need help in a particular area in order to help them flourish.  Consultants are already pre-qualified to take on any category. We’ll help you select the right consultant from the very best candidates. It’s a vetting and selection process like no other.

Our system brings competence and savings for the company, ensuring that you receive the right value for what you have paid. We vet the consultants and make them compete to get the project, guaranteeing through that process that they will provide you their best price. 
We professionalize the searching and hiring of a business consultant for you. We also improve her performance through feedback and analysis. The consultant is evaluated (essentially, our own form of Yelp), so that you can use that consultant again and help other businesses in their future searches, too. 
It’s never too late to start doing things differently
Since far too many hires occurred out of desperation when things were falling apart, or without scoping out whether the consultant’s skills fit correctly with the company’s goals, we developed our system to ensure that not only do you get the best value for your money, but that you find the right consultant the right way in a time efficient manner. Our teams have an extensive experience and the most efficient toolbox when it comes to purchasing consulting.
It’s never too late to start doing things differently, Wherever you are already engaged in the process or only thinking about hiring consultants, do not hesitate to contact Consulting Quest – The smartest way to buy consulting.

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

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

Additional Information

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

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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.

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