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Self-Diagnostic to Improve the Management of Your Consulting Spend

Do you currently employ consultants on a regular basis? Perhaps you consider consultants a negligible part of your budget and overall business strategy—there for small, niche projects when you need them and gone as soon as that business is concluded. However, from our experience, consulting spend can represent millions of dollars for companies, and if not properly managed (or managed at all), you’ll miss out on the strategic opportunities a consultant can provide.

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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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3 Essentials When You Present Your Proposal to the Client

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

A new way to look at top consulting firms?

Attention executives: if you are considering outsourcing a project to a consulting firm, whether or not you have hired consultants before, we have great news—there’s a new way to view the value of the right consultant.
Did you know that executives who pay close attention, beginning with the procurement of the consultant through the completion of the project (including debriefing and follow-up), have a bonus waiting for them? It is that partnering with the right top consulting firm on a project offers unexpected key business lessons.
First, let’s look at what we mean by a “top consulting firm.”
You have heard the saying, “you can’t eat prestige.” Prestige has its place, but let’s face it: you can procure high-quality consulting services at a cost that fits into the budget of any enterprise. Creating a company budget crisis by opting for a global-brand consultant simply makes no practical sense. That consulting firm may offer one solution while putting a large enough dent in your budget, so that other projects suffer.
So where does that leave your consulting procurement? Actually in a better place! Here’s why.
A top consulting firm is one that has the skills and experience to meet your current project needs as well as complement your company’s culture and budget. The right firm may be a smaller boutique firm that specializes in just the type of project you have at hand, or a larger firm with the sub-specialty that you seek.
A top firm, then, has a track record of being in the right place for the right project, solid working relationships, flexibility, adaptable solutions, and great follow-up.
Happily, this leads us directly to lesson number one.

Source Consultants

Optimizing indirect costs is an evergreen topic. Many companies have already regrouped their indirect procurement to better manage expenses.

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Balancing resources.
You have made the decision to pivot to a consultant as a way to solve a problem and, at the same time, manage your overhead. Why then jeopardize that balancing act with a consultant out of your price range?
Instead, opt for a consulting services advisor with a depth of experience in matching enterprises with high-quality consulting services at the right price point. As an added bonus, your procurement team will save time, since a highly efficient advisor will have accessed, reviewed, and rated a broad range of consulting services for you in advance.
Implied in balancing resources, of course, is the idea of adequate resources. Before you choose a consultant, prepare thoroughly the scoping and the phasing of the project, and the necessary associated resources. You may realize that you don’t need the same resources for the different phases, and thus, decide to buy the phases separately. When you have chosen a consulting team, observe it during both the planning phase and the implementation phase of the project with a focus on balancing resources.
The planning phase is a strategic mapping session that identifies objectives, stakeholders, participants, and steps to success. Negotiating what constitutes adequate project resources (beyond procuring the consultant) is a key part of this phase.

Balancing resources in this phase often means applying some creativity in optimizing internal company resources at hand. Let’s say the consultant suggests that a person with a specific skill is needed for the project. Is there a person elsewhere in your company who has the right skill, perhaps from a prior workplace or career, and who is able to participate?
Now for implementation. Notice how the consulting team balances the utilization of people available to them on the project—and also within their own consulting team. That’s an example of project team leadership which manages to avoid burnout and staff turnover while getting the job done on time and within (a balanced) budget.
Notice, too, how the consultant encourages your team to share and conserve resources, and to be creative to resolve resource issues.
Marrying current knowledge plus experience
Lesson number two is about the value of taking a range of experiences and marrying them to the latest knowledge in the field.
Experience alone does not always optimize results. Do you want your child to be taught by a teacher who has taught for twenty years and who has “always done it this way”? Better to have a teacher with half the experience who stays current with the latest field-test results on pedagogical approaches.
Top consulting firms tend to have systems in place to ensure that team members share both knowledge and experiences.

They actively access—or contribute to—emerging thought leadership.

They debrief past projects internally (maintaining client confidentiality) to cull lessons.

Then they connect the dots from those experiences and ideas to your project.

Watch how your consultant draws on both her experience and her access to current intelligence in the field to fashion a solution that fits your needs perfectly. It looks something like this:
At a specific crossroad in the project, the consultant might say, Oh yes, I’ve seen this issue before. Company A handled it this way last year, but I just read where Company B solved it in a much more integrated way which would work well here, too.
Other examples will emerge as you debrief your consultant. It’s all about retaining knowledge, sharing it, and then connecting the dots to apply it appropriately.
Now it’s your turn: what is your takeaway lesson on marrying current knowledge and experience, and how will you apply that lesson across your enterprise?
The unforeseen significance of debriefing
Stifle that yawn.
Debriefing a project with a top consultant sometimes yields unforeseen golden nuggets if you know how to uncover them. For example:

Working on the project may have revealed talents among your employees that you had not been aware they possessed. Perhaps an employee’s leadership skills emerged.

Maybe a new way to reach potential customers or interface with current customers bubbled to the surface. How do you get that information to the marketing and sales teams?

Possibly the data provided to the project team also revealed tangential information that may be helpful to your company in another arena.

There is a simple way to ensure your access to these golden nuggets: insert into the consulting contract a paragraph requesting that the consultant document these types of data, even though they may be ancillary to the goals of the consulting project, and highlight them in her debriefing.
Working with a top consultant is an efficient way to meet your company’s current needs but it can offer a much richer value for the observant executive: new ways to think about balancing resources, marrying experience and ideas, and identifying new information during debriefings which, although ancillary to the specific project completed, may be significant to the company as a whole.
We now have reached bonus lesson number four:
Procuring the right consultant matters in more ways than it seemed before.
Competition among consulting teams currently is tighter than ever, but Consulting Quest has braved those choppy waters and stands ready to identify the perfect fit for your project and your company.

How to enjoy the value creation process

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

Safari in Consulting #1: CAUSA Consulting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The African Market Structure is still driven by the large Companies

Welcome to the fourth issue of our 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 the Top Three Capabilities in the African consulting market are Strategy, Human Capital and Operations. The total number of capabilities covered on average is 2.5 and almost a quarter of the consulting firms is specialized in only one capability.
In this issue, we will take a look at the top Consulting industries the region and how they compare to those on a global scale.

The Industries
According to Consulting Quest’s research and data from the Global Directory, the Top Three Industries of the African Consulting market are 1) Financial Services; 2) Health & Life Sciences and 3) Energy & Environment. Interestingly, the consulting offering does not reflect the local needs, which are primarily rooted in Agriculture, Natural Resources and  Financial Services.
In addition, over 14% of the consulting firms in Africa are specialized in one industry, yet the total industries covered on average is 6.3. This finding is congruent with our previous observation that large global Consulting Firms are over-represented in the region compared to the rest of the world.
This post concludes our series on the African consulting market. In the next series, we will shift our focus to the Consulting market in Asia-Pacific and explore the unique consulting offering there. Stay tuned!

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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.

The African Consulting Market is focused on Strategy and Human Capital

Welcome to the fourth issue of our New Blog Series – “Exploring the African Consulting Industry”. In this series, you will learn “everything-you-need-to-know” about the African Consulting market through a set of fun infographics.
In the previous issue, we discussed that Large Consulting Firms (with 1000+ employees) make up one-third of the consulting firms in Africa. Despite the strong presence of foreign companies in the region, 57% of the consulting firms are in fact only based in Africa, and almost half of the companies have less than 50 employees.
In this issue, we will take a look at the top capabilities of the Consulting Firms in the region and how the figure compares to that on a global scale.

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

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Consulting Quest Global Directory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Information

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

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About The Consulting Playbook

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

How to Maximize Your Potential as a Preferred Consultant

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

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

Launch your Consultancy

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

Read More

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

Consulting Playbook: A Well-Planned Pre&Post-Merger Support can help realize Anticipated Value

The Consulting Playbook, Edition #17
 A planned merger between two Financial Services companies with offices in about 20 countries, in Europe, Asia, and America, called for the executive team to engage Consulting support from beginning to end – pre-merger to post-merger.
Besides the geographical gap, the cultures and operating models of both companies were different, yet the merger made a lot of sense from a strategic standpoint. The key to a successful merger resided in the ability to execute.
The Expert’s Strategic Implementation Broken into Two Phases
Pre-merger:

Support the convergence of both companies’ shareholders with the 50/50 pre-signing procedures with the new leadership and the facilitation of the shareholder agreement definition.
Clear roles and responsibilities for the New CEO and Deputy CEO (acting as COO) with retention mechanism.
Strategy development and positioning for new company to achieve a differentiating value proposition with sustainable competitive advantage. Perform cultural evaluation and align with target culture attributes, develop a management model
Talent management and Staffing of the new company, alignment on compensation model
Consultation information file creation for the representatives of both groups
Provide support of the future Executive committee and leaders in preparation of transition
Synergies High Level Assessment

Post-Merger:

Provided support to the company in transitioning clients to the new model Formal Reference book created and support provided to the client’s organization
Assistance in deployment of the new culture
Implementation of action plans to realize synergies

Synergy Achieved Through Integration
The merger was completed, and the creation of a global leader in financial services finalized, with a new business model implemented. Successful realization of the business objectives and foundation set for the merger, synergy, and 25% reduction in FTE and cross-selling was achieved. This specific case we as an exemplary merger process in a difficult social context.
 

Additional Information

Top 10 Big Data Trends for Financial Services
Big Data can help Financial Services, and leverage the information about customers’ while offering lots of insights too.  Banks are motivated to keep applying loads of information from big data into their strategy. They are focusing on better customer intelligence, reducing risk and meeting compliance requirements.
Here are some major issues revolving around big data and all the possibilities it offers too:

Risk and Compliance data management are a top big data priority. As risk is always there, compliance keeps changing, and represents a tough task.
Financial Services apps are becoming the big data killer. These apps are helping in developing the front-end link between the end-user & the data platform. But not surprisingly many banks are experimenting with these apps in search of complete solutions from front-end to back-end.
Operations is the most sensitive and pinnacle point to adopt big data software and will also include technology like metadata enrichment, ontologies, integration LEI, and other standards. Some new solutions like front-office functions replacement, marketing and risk, overlap with data of the back office and middle office operations. Risk -Assessment and performance big data are also expected to increase.
Confidence is still a key issue, and it is still risky and challenging for big banks and financial services to adopt new big data solutions. For these executives, questions like architecture, security, speed and functionality are very important issues.
Data governance – it’s how standards, reference data management etc., need to be developed further. Lineage and other Compliance aspects will be deeply integrated into big data platforms, as there is no way to exclude them.
Further trade and portfolio management integration and advisor applications will become more widely used. More applications will be built off the basis of big data platforms that will further increase impact and the adoption.
Growth and customer-centric Activities are one of the top priorities of each financial services company, and big data developers are working to integrate big data into them. And regardless of how technologically advanced a bank is, the main issues are still very important to manage aggregate risk, to increase predictive analytics and to sufficiently support risk and compliance that every bank or financial services company today is very focused on.

 
For Further Reading –
 
– The Brokerage World Is Changing, Who Will Survive?
– Cloud Services Brokerage (CSB) Market Trends
– Three Cloud Trends to Watch Through 2020

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.

Never Miss Another Opportunity with the Right Collaboration

Most talented small and medium-size consulting firms are likely to have run up against the same type of frustrating conundrum while securing new work: staffing limits. No, this is not simply a matter of the number of colleagues on board. Instead, we are focusing here on other staffing-related limitations:

What if an opportunity at hand includes a specific area of expertise that your firm currently lacks?
What if a given opportunity requires widespread geographic and/or cultural challenges?

The good news? There is one word to ensure you never miss an opportunity: collaboration.
Effective consulting firms innately understand and value the idea of collaboration. The internal work habits of effective consulting firms reflect a constant flow of interconnecting collaboration. After all, consultants collaborate with clients all the time—and train clients’ staffs to strengthen their own internal collaboration.
Let’s take a closer look at turning to collaboration to enlarge your consulting firm’s circle of opportunity. But first, we’ll briefly review impractical paths to avoid, as they may end up doing more harm than good.
Impractical Paths
The Eager Beaver
The eager beaver is the one who jumps up and says, “Yes, we will do it!” while not quite knowing whether the specific expertise is there, sufficient consulting time is available within the client’s timeframe, or the ability to reach the client geographically is practicable. It’s similar to that old joke about the piano mover who says, “I got it, I got it, I got it …I don’t got it,” as his end of the piano crashes to the floor.
We’ll just call Charlie Whatshisname.
An opportunity comes your way, and you realize that you will need to add one specialist to round out the best team to tackle the job successfully. Possibilities race through your mind until you recall that at a recent conference you met Charlie (what was his last name again?) who has just the right experience. Or does he?

Do you know the depth and breadth of his expertise?
Does his value proposition complement or clash with yours? What about his consulting style?
Have you checked references?

The downside to precipitous consulting decisions? Damage all around: to your reputation and professional relationships, to your ability to attract new clients, and most importantly, to your and your client’s bottom lines. It is much better to take a pass than jump in too hastily and unprepared.
So how can you accept and deliver on the opportunities that come your way, without taking one of these impractical (and risky) paths? Read on to learn how collaboration can rescue you from missing future opportunities and provide the value your customers seek.
Preparing for Those Forks Along the Path
Different forks along the path can stop consultants in their tracks—or worse, lead them astray—unless collaboration is built into the equation. Understanding those forks is the best preparation for deciding to create new collaborations. Here are six forks to look out for:

If yours is a generalist firm, you often face the tough choice of whether to take on a job yourself, take on a subcontractor, or take a pass in favor of a specialist.
On the other hand, as a specialist, you may be asked to expand a project into areas outside your expertise.

Grow your Consultancy

While you may not have current problems with recruitment, finding the appropriate level of staffing is tricky. 

Read More

In today’s global economy, some assignments will require a simultaneous presence in more than one part of the globe. For example, a manufacturing firm may need you at headquarters and at their plant, half a world away. A high-tech enterprise may require simultaneous services at their site and the site of an important partner on another continent. In other words, while some assignments are manageable with minimal travel, others require you to decide which fork to take: a consulting partner, or a pass.
Globalization also provides the chance to land choice assignments with clients and stakeholders anywhere in the world—an exciting opportunity to be sure, but yet another fork along that path. I remember the story of a French consultant asked to facilitate the cultural integration between Korean and Chinese workers on the Chinese border. That French consultant faced the question, “If not me, specifically who would be the right fit to handle this project for the best outcome?”
Let’s say you are considering taking on a consulting team as a subcontractor for a sizable project. Have you explored their comportment with clients, their stances on the situation facing your client, and how they go about working with a client’s staff? A partnership that works at cross purposes or is perceived by clients as incompatible will not only confuse clients but fail to provide the quality outcome the client deserves.
The nature of a project defines your consulting relationship with the client’s staff. Some projects require you to be perceived almost as one of the team. Yet, the needs of that client may evolve, altering the nature of the work, which now may require you to be the bearer of tough messages—creating a perception among client staff that you are Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde rolled into one. It’s more than uncomfortable; it impacts your ability to serve the client’s needs effectively. Are you ready to pivot to a collaborator?

Tapping the Right Collaborators
The ability to tap the right collaborator is your next challenge.
First, be clear about the scope and boundaries of the collaboration, before you approach a key potential collaborator. Here are three options:

Pitching the project together as a partnership: You may gain a competitive advantage to land the assignment with the combination of your respective skillsets and credentials.

Subcontracting deliverables: It makes sense to turn to this option when you need a wider geographic range during the project and/or simply more help.

Brokering a new consulting relationship between your client and another consultant: The consultant in question may just be the better fit for a specific assignment—allowing you to bask in the glow of the value you have added for the client.

A partnership, of course, may be the most interesting and rewarding path to follow.
Building a Collaborative Network
One way to ground your decision to collaborate is to take the time to build a network of highly qualified specialists, over a wide geographic area, whose value propositions and styles mesh with your own.
Vetting can take quite a bit of time up front. However, you can minimize that by taking a hard look at the types of work coming your way and the geography you would need to cover to handle those opportunities successfully. Look for specific partners who are able to fill the gaps you have identified in your firm, and don’t forget to factor in their potential availability.
Regardless of how natural a networker you may be, if you are like most consultants, your time is tight and your current network typically consists of former colleagues, some consultants with whom you have crossed paths, and former clients-turned-consultants.
Fortunately, for those times when you encounter an assignment leading to one of those forks along the way, you can turn to a company whose sole expertise is helping you find qualified consulting partners with the specific expertise and geographic area that will allow you to never miss another opportunities, reduce your risks and deliver the value your clients expect.
Consulting Quest specializes in identifying consulting solutions that boost your competitive edge. We have put in the time, build the world largest database of pre-vetted the consultants, and understand that you need the perfect fit in terms of skillset, value proposition, style, culture, and geography. Do not hesitate to reach out if you want to discuss further how we could collaborate.

Consulting Playbook: Creating a Framework for On-shoring Export Controlled Work

The Consulting Playbook, Edition #28
An engineering company had engaged in a massive cost reduction exercise. The Executives of the company had identified weaknesses in the management of off shored work packages. This led to delay, inefficiencies and the costs were far beyond expectations. The company decided to on-shore the management of the workflow in its domestic center. They opted to bring a consultant in to facilitate the process.
Optimizing the Workflow
The consultant first moved to acquire an understanding of the remote and domestic center capabilities and the current utilization of those capabilities (indirect charging). It turned out the quality of the production of the off shored center was in line with expectations and but project management from specification to workflows management was presenting major flaws.
Afterwards they began collaborating with the senior leadership on site, to create local workflow focal points accountable for sending work to the domestic center, establishing a series of receiving counterpart focal points at the domestic center responsible for tracking and ensuring the execution of work packages.
The next task was creating buy-in at leadership level on the new scheme, by demonstrating to them on a pilot the quality of the end products, as well as showcasing signed plans designed right first time.
After the decision to generalize the solution, training the teams on how to use a workflow tracker.
Performance and Savings Followed the Adjustments Made
The project encountered a greater resistance to change than expected. However, thanks to a close collaboration with the HR function and leadership team, the implementation of the framework was finally delivered as per the plan and enabled the expected boost in performance and subsequent savings.

Additional Information

As of make or buy decisions on-shoring or off-shoring decisions are not always black and white. The key is in finding the right balance to maximize performance and focusing on core activities. Shall you on-shore in full? Breakdown activities into smaller work packages and strengthen the management of those?
One of the tendencies of historically integrated companies likes aerospace or automotive ones has been to position themselves as architect / integrators. Putting in place strong program and project management teams working mostly at the functional level and leaving the design and manufacturing to specialized partners. Those partners deciding, or not, to subcontract part of the activities to tier 3 suppliers.
However, if you decide to onshore in full, here are a few thoughts about Manufacturing locally again.
Making Local Manufacturing Strong Again
With Globalization and outsourcing of all types of jobs, production facilities and activities, on a massive scale, we don’t see the ‘Made in Here’ label too often today.
But getting sentimental about it, won’t outweigh the economic reasons supporting the trend. Despite the fact that trend has continued for a few decades now, there is a new change taking place, the reverse version referred to as “reshoring”.
As many businesses took advantage of the lower labor costs in Asia, and other countries, logistics and transportation fees have steadily increased as well, making the overall cost less attractive. Another factor that is affecting the overall price accordingly is the increase in wages in China, India and other countries.
Labor unions are also more willing to negotiate and agree to reasonable wages, aiming at keeping jobs and provide steady employment.
Also Western companies are more willing to employ Western workers provided they are well trained and skilled, additionally there is a tendency of shifting to full-time from part-time employment.
Another Factor shaping up the job outsourcing is the stronger Chinese currency, and its  increase in value.
The downside of offshore operations is also the extra expenses for inventory, potential waste, more risks, quality control problems, cash flow deficiency, etc.
All these factors and new developments made many Executives to reconsider moving manufacturing back.
The Biggest Benefits of Reshoring

Manufacturers can ensure better quality products
Smooth operations and less disruptive supply chains with lower working capital.
Better efficiency of the overall production line
Closer control over design, plans and execution of the final product
Higher worker productivity compared to some countries.
Shift in consumers’ mentality and willingness to pay higher price for goods and services produce locally.
As Manufacturers base their operations close to consumers to lower logistics and transportation costs, big Metro areas will reap the best job-creation rewards.

For Further Reading:

THE EVOLUTION OF GLOBAL BUSINESS SERVICES
Ten Key Procurement And Logistics Trends And How To Navigate Their Pitfalls
14 Ways to Reduce Materials & Cost of Goods Sold in Your Business
5 Pressing Issues Confronting Multinationals in Latin America
2016 Supply Chain Trends

t

About The Consulting Playbook

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

Consulting Playbook: Overcoming Today’s Challenges in the Banking and Financial Services Sector

The Consulting Playbook, Edition #7
We all are aware that the Banking industry went through a lot of major changes and serious challenges in the past eight years. Banks are no longer perceived as the safest or most reliable organizations even though we can’t imagine economic activity without their ubiquitous presence. In today’s fast paced environment, the banks can be left inadequately weak in dealing with the changes.
Uniting Bank Leaders on Core Principles in Reorganization
The case below describes a leading European Investment Banking institution, created from a Co-Op group of companies that experienced disappointing financial results. The newly appointed CEO was given the task of repairing the situation. He also had to align the Financials, Asset Management, Insurance and Specialized services, on a new common strategy and improve collaboration among them. Often the general policies could not apply or benefit the entire organization. And that was the real challenge. The Executive Committee could not agree on a common vision and a future strategy.
3- Year Performance Boost by Incentives for Management –
The desired transformation was developed in a few steps:

The new CEO received support in the strategic realignment of all Leaders: Executive team, Management team (Directors for Core functions) and the Top 100 (N-1, N-2)
A variety of initiatives were implemented towards the new strategic plan with ownership from the Executive team (N-1) downward. The timeline was set at 1 to 3 years, to encourage both individual and collective performance and secure short term results without endangering the midterm transformation.
Each member of the Executive team designed implementation plans for strategic actions per the functions and the priorities, tied to individual performance for their N-1 and N-2
Various Committees and each of their members had been assigned objectives and targets aligned with their pay and Incentives plan for the Top 100.

Greater Performance and Profitability Achieved –
The impact of working with a Consultant achieved remarkable results. It contributed to aligning performance, new behavior, and created a favorable context where new links took place. The new Strategic Plan and its implementation aligned the CEO’s and the Top Team’s priorities. All the teams across the whole organization were mobilized and engaged for timely strategic plan deployment. Great financial and commercial results were reached during the first year of the strategic plan deployment. Improved cooperation among management, and empowered CEO in his role, with a strong grip on cost control and overall efficiency, achieved as well. Pay and incentives alignment were implemented for the Top Management Team and Top 100 Leaders.

Additional Information

Top 3 Concerns Banks and Financial Institutions are facing today and how they are being addressed:
1. Regulatory Pressure
After the economic crisis of 2008/2009 the government has put a great pressure on the financial services sector with increased Regulatory requirements, to prevent another such crisis. And banks have no choice but to comply and to continue to do so. This particular task can put a serious toll on budgets and staff training. Banking, risk management, and the responsibilities associated with that, stretch beyond limiting credit risk and procedures to monitor that risk.  Reliance on new technologies bring new challenges as well.
2. Retail Banking and Customer’s Satisfaction
After the 2008 Financial Crisis, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) was created to educate customers about irresponsible banking practices. Banks are now a lot more accountable if making misrepresentations about products and bank services, and can easily be sued and sanctioned. And If you’ve waited in line at a local branch, you know how important fast and efficient service is.  But in many banks, that service is below the customers’ standard, and banks are trying to step up their offerings and clients’ service. With the advantage in modern technology and internet service, new and dynamic Financial Services are being offered, traditional banks are having difficulties in retaining their lead. Let’s hope retail customers are the beneficiaries of service improvements.
3. Cybercrime
Or commonly known as hacking, is one of the biggest security threats today. The extended digital exposure of the financial organizations, and the always evolving methods of cybercrime, increase the sector’s vulnerability, and is a top priority of concern. Any data breach can make the news, and result in tarnished reputation as well as loss of huge number of customers and revenue. Banks continue to fight cybercrime but unfortunately not very successfully.
For Further Reading:
– Top 6 trends that are redefining financial institutions
– 2016 Banking trends: Taking a closer look
– 10 Big Ideas for Banking in 2016

t

About The Consulting Playbook

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

Prepare your teams for when the Consultant leaves

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

Use Consulting Strategically

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

Read More

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consulting Playbook: Effective Identification of Growth and Cost Synergy Brings Higher Revenues

The Consulting Playbook, Edition #18
The case involved two big players in the Mobility Service sector. The two companies had decided to merge and had identified areas for synergies. However, they could not, for antitrust reasons exchange information prior to the merger. Given the respective geographical coverage and market share of both parties, the antitrust process was anticipated to be quite lengthy. In order to accelerate the integration, and to speed-up the materialization of the synergies both CEO decided to use some external support.
Quantitative and Qualitative Approach Produces Desired Outcome
The Consultant was hired to provide expertise with the merger, the new company’s launch, and more specifically to identify growth and cost synergy applicable to the newly formed company. Strategic direction and top priorities were outlined as part of working groups but it was now a key issue to move down to concrete actions. The project was especially important and expected to deliver the methodology for future growth and cost synergies, including progress-tracking and reporting. Two working teams comprised of senior executives from both companies, closely collaborated in the facilitation of the consulting clean team to ensure the successful outcome.
The Consultancy used a 2-stage Approach –
Preliminary Assessment
Following the executives’ decision to merge, costs and cost synergy were assessed to determine the potential benefits.
Interviews with key players from both companies were held, and the assessment performed was based on numerous documents and records – annual reports, market studies, presentations reviewed. The reached conclusions helped chart the merger and post-merger strategy. The work on the synergies was broken down into manageable work streams with two leaders, one from each company, to supervise the process.
Detailed Synergy Identification and Action Plan
While in the pre-clearance and pre-closing periods, each team using corporate and geographical coordinates, designed synergy targets relating to costs, headcount, and redundancy. These were broken further down into secured (concrete action plans) and identified areas where more analysis was required to determine exact numbers and measures. Those areas included :

Target Corporate Model
Target Regional Organizational Model
Procurement Synergies
Revenue synergies due to better positions, new capabilities and innovation applied
G&A (communication, general services, and legal)

After an intensive exercise of baselining on both sides, tracking tools were put in place to ensure a proper tracking of the synergies as they were progressively identified, confirmed and implemented.
Total synergy and performance realized across all geographical areas and the two companies additionally to each current company’s annual performance represented the equivalent of one year of operating revenues. The consulting team continued to support the integration for a few months and then transferred the reporting tools to the PMI team. Thanks to all the preparatory work, the materialization of the synergies after closing took less than a year.

Additional Information

Synergy Excellence – 6 Practices To Help You Aim for The Best Synergies
In many mergers, it’s not uncommon that synergies do not materialize as expected leaving the companies’ executives puzzled. This fact alone can be very disappointing to executives and staff alike. Let’s take a closer look at the possibilities of optimizing synergies. One of the underlying reasons for the sub par outcomes, is related to huge overestimation of the synergies due to lack of solid due diligence, board estimates, and a lack of clear understanding of the expectations of the merger.
However it is highly recommended to look at some mergers that over delivered, and see what practices produced these results.
We should also mention that synergies strongly depend on the company’s size and type of industry. A good example for lower synergies is the retail sector, while telecommunications companies often realize bigger synergies.
Here are 6 Practices to Apply for the Best Synergies:

Fact – Announced synergies in more than 65% of the cases are overestimated. It is important that companies have more realistic projections.
The best companies who achieved greatest synergies are the ones that had a clear blueprint in realizing their ambitious goals. They are the companies who reached full potential, and were able to minimize inefficiencies and reaped the fruits of scaling up.
Merging companies need more accuracy in calculating synergies. Costs prior to the deal must be well evaluated, and a deeper understanding of what can be gain with the merger is a must.
Also important is to set clear target of the costs compared to bigger and smaller competitors.
Using the Deal Thesis and function-by-function benchmarks can provide the best approach in evaluating the costs and the best synergies.
Setting ambitious goals of 5% instead of expected 1-3% in synergies, is achievable when all aspects of the merger are fully optimized.

For Further Reading –
– The World is Bumpy
– To Get Value from a Merger, Grow Sales
– Cost Synergies
– M&A: Identifying and Realizing Synergies
– Negative Synergies in M&A

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.

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