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How to Best Define Your Procurement Strategy: Pillars & Pitfalls

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

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

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

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

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

Optimize your Consulting Spend

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

Read More

Defining where you want to go next –

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

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

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

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

Basic or Operational Level –

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

Standard Level –

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

Leading Level –

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

Best-in-Class –

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

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

The following questions can get you started:

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

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

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

Book your call

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

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

 

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

Optimize your Consulting Spend

You have decided to grow your Consulting Procurement Capability, the first thing you need to look at is analyzing your Consulting Spend that will allow you to establish your baseline.
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There are a few key levers to improve the ROI of your Consulting Spend:
 

Improve Your Sourcing Process –

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

Implement Demand Management –

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

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

Check Consultants’ Qualifications –

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

Define Consultants’ Performance Criteria –

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

Utilize Quick Gains at an Early Stage –

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

Leverage your data – Slice, Dice, See Patterns

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

Know Your Panel of Consulting Firms Well –

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

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

Book your call

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

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

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

Know the Consulting Category

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

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

What is at stake –

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

Why projects are launched –

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

Who are the internal stakeholders –

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

What is the Decision-making process –

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

Is there a specific buying process?

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

Who are your providers and how do they perform?

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

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

Book your call

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The Savvy Client’s Definite Overview of the Consulting Industry Today

Did you know that the Consulting Industry today is one of the most dynamic sectors, and is projected to grow at around 6%, outpacing GDP in most countries? At this pace, the industry is expected to break the $300 billion mark by 2020. And even though the world is getting smaller as globalization blurs the distances, many Clients often hire their consultants within a 50 miles radius? Unsurprisingly they are missing the big picture, and to take advantage of the great opportunities and offerings, simply because their knowledge of the Consulting Industry today, is incomplete.
However, we are here to help. We have created a short List of 8 Major Features to give you an accurate snapshot of the Consulting Industry today.
Let’s get to it.
8 Main Features of the Consulting Industry Today:

Main Players Consultancies –

When you think about direct purchasing would you source from the local neighbors or take advantage of the global marketplace. Would you always use the same suppliers? You would probably play with some competition, to ensure you get the best supplier.
Consulting abides by the same rules, and the supply options are almost unlimited once you get to know the market.
Another good way to approach the complexity of the consulting market is to look at the size of the consulting providers. As a rule, large firms offer a broad range of services, while small firms tend to specialize in a narrow domain.
The bulk of the consulting providers are very small boutiques with less than 10 employees. In the US for example, they represent 87% of all Consulting firms. The remaining 13% of Consulting firms with over 10 employees, however, generate more than 90% of the total revenues in the industry.

Source Consultants

Your winning RFP process has attracted a score of proposals. Once the elation of that bounty fades, you come face to face with the daunting task of selecting the winning proposal.

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Mergers & Acquisitions – Very Active Front

An interesting trend going on for the past 15 years, or more.
Every year since 2006, we observe roughly 500 acquisitions or mergers of management consulting firms of all sizes with larger players in the Consulting Industry. The reasons behind these moves can be to access in a new client base, to venture in a new capability or a new industry, or to strengthen an existing practice. The Consulting Landscape reflects that continuous M&A activity.
Compared to the average, the Consulting Industry has 60% less small firms between 10 and 50 employees, and almost three times more firms over 500 employees.
The Consulting Industry is clearly a large market with robust growth.

Levels of Consulting Offering –

Interesting to note that the scope of “consulting services” continues to expand. The top-level offering is highly skilled advisory with a proven reputation and higher fees. The 2nd level of Consultancies is made of specialty niche technology services that have a specific price range. And the 3rd level comprises of highly skilled niche experts hired on specific projects.
 

Digital Age Disruption Trends –

The consulting industry in 2018 was shaped by 3 major trends: Digital transformation, Technological disruption and Cultural shifts within the industry due to globalization. Right now, 2019 promises to be an interesting year as well. The expertise topics offered to Clients expand and multiply even further, in niche markets. Digital agencies and Consultants capabilities further overlap, as they offer similar expertise.

Freelance Consultants and Micro-Consulting –

We are all familiar with the growing trend of freelance services, but Micro-consulting sounds kind of trendy too. The concept refers to getting expert help, in short, targeted projects for clients. It differs from months-long engagement and a team of Consultants working together.
It’s also interesting to mention that according to recent surveys, most Freelance Consultants like to stay independent and enjoy the flexibility of their work.

New Billing Models Applied –

The demand for performance-based billing models is growing as well. More and more clients now have the technological capability to slice and dice every expense. And they are able to analyze their spending on Consulting, while evaluating the ROI. Performance-based billing is also popular among consultants. This pricing styles can prove mutually beneficial to Clients and Consultants alike, reducing the chance for unexpected fees, and setting up a well-defined benchmark for Consultants to prove the value they bring.

Increased Competition & Continuing Commoditization of Services –

The freelance economy continues to affect the consulting industry as well. Online marketplaces of available experts offer Clients a multitude of choices when decide to hire experts or need advice.

Never Ending Need for New Skills & Innovation –

The fast pace of innovation is affecting all industries. Consultants now strive to stay on the cutting-edge of knowledge. But by evolving and enhancing their expertise, Clients are not the only beneficiaries of this trend, Consultants too, as they are able to build better portfolios and ensure long term success.
We just walked you through some of the key elements characterizing the Consulting Industry today. Deepening your knowledge about the market is always useful.  And getting a good understanding of it is Procurement 101. 

Want to continue the discussion on the Consulting Industry today?
Ready to get started on your next project? Or need a fresh point of view on your Consulting Sourcing?
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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A new way to look at top consulting firms?

Attention executives: if you are considering outsourcing a project to a top 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 mean 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 it also means that the market is rich and diverse. There is somewhere the “top Consulting Firm” for your project.

The Consulting Procurement Process Doesn’t Stop With the Order

When does procurement turn into a partnership? The easy answer is that as soon as the order is placed, procurement is over and done with. But in reality, 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.
Too many companies looking to work with consultants underestimate the complex procurement system. On the surface, it seems like a straightforward process that ends with the order. But consulting is not that straightforward; simply signing a contract and assuming everything will work out exactly as specified neglects the versatility of consulting, and intellectual services in general.
Ultimately, both sides hope to develop a mutually-beneficial professional relationship. Regarding procurement, as a long-term process improves communication, better aligns the scope of the relationship, and provides the necessary insights to achieve continuous improvement and productive partnership. Consider these 5 steps to a successful procurement process:
1) After the Proposal
Don’t disengage with consultants you did not select for mutual business. Instead, explain why you choose to go in a different direction, giving honest feedback about the strengths and weaknesses of their proposal and how it could have better aligned with your expectations.
For you, this step requires only a little effort. But for the consultants you didn’t select, you provide invaluable insights about your expectations, along with their ability to compete for proposals and opportunities like yours in the future.
Consultants who are willing to listen will be able to use these lessons to better compete for similar opportunities in the future. And who knows? Perhaps you will be in need of a consultant again in the future, so nurturing relationships with a range of consultants can be beneficial for both sides.

Source Consultants

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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2) Change Management
No matter how hard you try, establishing and maintaining a relationship with consultants in executing a project will not be a linear process. During the course of the project, a number of changes will take place that you didn’t account for during the proposal or contract. Some of these changes may include:

Scope changes. New tasks may be added as a need becomes clear, or deliverables that turn out to be impossible or difficult to reach may be dropped.
Staffing changes. Organizations are in constant flux, and both sides may have to account for turnover that requires adjustment and additional training.
Timeline changes. Everything before the project starts is an estimate; you may have to adjust the pace as the true duration of the project comes into view.
Unforeseen events. Budget changes, project merges, project freezes, or any other events may occur that affect the execution of the project.

Change management is necessary to ensure that these changes do not derail the project. By keeping an active log of all changes as they occur, you can adjust the commercial conditions in due time and before they become dangerous.
3) Mid-Project Assessment
As early as possible, set yourself and your consultants a benchmark toward the middle of the project. This is the perfect time to review the initial objectives and get back on track toward accomplishing them on time.

As you get into the details of any project, it’s easy to get carried away with minutia that ultimately won’t affect the overall success. A Mid-Project Assessment enables you and your team to ensure that these inevitable tangents don’t endanger the timeline and success of the larger project.
The Mid-Project Assessment should be a major event for everyone involved. Keep it separate from regular operational project reviews, which should happen in smaller circles and on a regular basis.
4) Project Closure
Once the project has drawn to an end, it’s time for a thorough evaluation. Now it’s time to compare your end results with your initial goals, which enables you to understand and begin to prepare the adjustments that are still necessary to reach your ultimate goal.
At this time, you can also evaluate the relationship with your consultants, and whether they delivered on the initial promise. Evaluate your provider using dimensions such as commercial quality, delivery quality, posture, talent & expertise, and ROI as it relates to the project.
5) Mutual Continuous Improvement
Nobody is perfect, and no project or professional relationship will be flawless. The project closure is an opportunity for you to give feedback to your project suppliers about your thoughts on the results, relationship dynamic, and any other dimensions you covered in your project closure review above.
Giving feedback enables your consultants to improve their business by gaining a clearer understanding of client expectations and identifying potential blind spots. Constructive feedback will also uncover relationship difficulties that may be improved on a future partnership with you or other clients.
You can take advantage of the same intelligence because it better enables you to understand the consultant journey through your project. As a result, you will improve supplier competitiveness, and ultimately increase the potential for positive outcomes. Improving your procurement process, you will be able to contribute to intelligence gathering about the market and its segments.
Finally, you can benefit from feedback about the project as much as your consultant. Hearing from your partner about the relationship and its successes and failures allows you to uncover what you can do better in the future, ultimately helping you work your way toward better project implementation. Simply asking for feedback will position you as being committed to good practices, openness, and transparency.
At its core, consulting should be based on a mutually beneficial partnership. If you treat procurement as a linear process that ends the moment the contract ink is dry, you probably will have trouble getting the best possible results out of that partnership. But by treating the relationship as dynamic and flexible throughout the project, you and your consultants will both benefit and improve their business practices as a result.

Connect with other Consulting Buyer to step up your game

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

Source Consultants

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

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

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

Leverage Management Consulting to boost the Performance of your Business

The world of consulting has been seen as out of reach for small to midsize businesses for far too long. In the past, only large corporations had the resources to find, vet, and pay for consultants, giving them a distinct competitive edge over smaller companies in their industry.
However, with advancements in technology and communication changing the way we all work, the consulting industry has suddenly opened up to businesses of all sizes and stages of development. Large players in search of growth pockets have turned to SMEs, while spin-offs focus on medium-sized businesses.
Companies and nonprofit organizations that would never have been able to find or afford the right consultants in the past, now have the opportunity to get world-class consulting services for an affordable price.

Use Consulting Strategically

Nothing says brilliant execution like a Request for Proposals (RFP) that sings to its potential suppliers or partners.
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Naturally, when new opportunities and tools become available, there’s a learning curve that goes along with that.
I was recently speaking with the CFO of a small business from the Food Manufacturing Industry. He confessed he had never used management consultants, and asked for some more information about what they could bring to the table.
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?
This is a very common conversation that we, at Consulting Quest, have with friends, colleagues, and clients every single day. So, we thought we’d answer some of the most common questions we hear and provide you with the “why,” “where,” and “how” of leveraging consultants to enhance your business’s performance.
Why
There’s a famous story of a manager in the Toyota corporation briefing an executive on how well the company is doing. Profits are up, customer satisfaction is up, production is up, sales are up, and costs are down. From the manager’s perspective, nothing could be better.
After the manager’s gleaming report on the state of the company, the executive asked: “where are the problems?” Shocked, the manager replied, “There are no problems.” The executive simply shook his head and said, “No problems is a problem.”

Sometimes, you can’t read the label when you’re inside the jar. Meaning, it can be hard to be unbiased and objective about your business, while also being emotionally and financially invested in the company.
Hiring a consultant allows your business to get objective, unbiased, third-party expertise that can not only offer solutions to problems you know exist, but also root out and solve problems that you didn’t even know you had. A consultant can act as a sparring partner, of sorts, who can bounce ideas back and forth with you and help you identify areas where you can improve.
Consultants also fill the skill and knowledge gaps that may exist in your current workforce, diagnose the problems in your organization others can miss, and help you get through special projects and periods of increased demand with ease. They can play the “bad guy” in tough situations where you’d prefer not to involve your regular staff, help you brand your business, or articulate and convey important messages. Essentially, a consultant can be there to support your business in whatever way necessary.
The role of a consultant is simple: help your business achieve a goal as effectively and efficiently as possible, while helping you, if necessary, with your management or shareholders in the process.
Where
The beauty of using consultants is that you can bring someone on board that has the exact expertise you need, at the exact moment you need it.
Because of this, consultants can be used in any area of your business that needs help or attention (or they can be used to locate which areas of your business need help and attention).
Consultants can be particularly useful in the top levels of organizations, when executives may be looking for guidance on strategic planning, resource allocation, culture, leadership development, or other areas that have widespread impact throughout the organization. In these kinds of situations, consultants can be seen as coaches or advisers that help businesses make big decisions and implement those decisions afterwards.
Similarly, consultants can be a great source of guidance during special projects or demands that your business’s core staff doesn’t have the experience or manpower to handle. These could be anything from ensuring compliance with new regulations, handling a special request from a top client, or deploying new technologies throughout your organization.
Consultants can also be assets to your company’s top line, helping to drive sales and profits through new strategies. For example, if you have a major marketing campaign on the horizon and want to be sure you have the best possible team assigned to the task, hiring a consultant may give you that additional competitive edge you need. With an outside perspective, a consultant can bring fresh ideas to the table that can increase marketing reach, improve audience engagement, and drive greater sales.
If inefficiency and soaring costs are plaguing your business, a consultant can come in to help you streamline those parts of your business. A consultant can provide expertise that allows them to better see areas within your business that could be made more efficient, or identify expenditures that could be reduced or eliminated altogether. Whether it be a breakdown in your production process, a lack of communication and cooperation between your team members, or a product or service that is eating away at your operating budget, a consultant will help you pinpoint, and then fix, those problem areas, in order to reduce costs and maximize efficiency.
Regardless of what your business’s needs are, the size of your organization, or the challenges that your face, there’s a consultant out there who can help.
How
So, you’re ready to get a consultant to come in and help you re-vamp your business. Now, where do you go to find the consultants, evaluate their skills and expertise, research their past performance, and negotiate their rates?
Those are great questions. In the past, you would have had to know someone who knew someone who used a consultant that could give you their contact information, or you had to put out a call for a consultant and hope that someone with the right skills responded.
However, in an age where you can look up reviews and shop online for anything from boats to goats, houses to airplanes, it only makes sense that you should be able to go online to find the right consultant for your needs.
Ultimately, justifying the hire of a new consultant can be difficult if you don’t know what exactly it is they can offer your business. But, with the right tools and the right people behind you, leveraging consultants to improve your business’s performance can be a seamless experience. Many companies have already dared to take the leap. Why not you?

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  • Know the Consulting Category
  • Source Consultants
  • Optimize your Consulting Spend
  • Create Value Through Consulting
  • Leverage disruption in Consulting Sourcing

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

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