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

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.


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Consulting firm eligibility

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

Proposal compliance

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

Ethics and values alignment

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

Potential conflicts of interest check

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

Employees work authorization

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

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

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


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

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

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2. Stages in the RFP process –

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

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

4. Proposal’s content –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ready to launch your next project?
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And let’s get the conversation started

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The Consulting Market of Oceania is Embracing the Digital Wave- Top 8 Features


“Australia is just so full of surprises.” – Bill Bryson

Australia is unique not only for the amazing nature, and species like koalas and kangaroos, but the remarkable Consulting market growth of 6-7% for the past few years. 
Let’s take a couple of minutes to discuss the Economies of the region and how the current Consulting market is shaping up.
Oceania in a Snapshot – Top 8 Features –
1. Stable growth as the economy transforms
Oceania economic region consists of 14 countries. However, Australia and New Zealand account for 97% of the associated GDP. The region is growing approximately 3% on average and is one of the fastest growth rates among the mature economies. New Zealand – Economic Perspective
New Zealand continues to rely heavily on tourism, agriculture, and manufacturing with exports representing 30% of GDP and a vivid set of SME’s. Steady and Above average Population growth –
The region’s economic growth is also influenced by the population growth, and by the significant government investments, notably in Australia and New Zealand.

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2. Australia’s key economic sectors include Mining, Financial Services, Agriculture, and Manufacturing
Important to mention that the aging population will cause an increase in Health Care and Social Services sectors.
Manufacturing is facing serious headwinds, as with many other developed and high-wage economies.
With natural resources having peaked, other sectors will need to expand as well to sustain growth. The Australian Government has undertaken a set of measures to increase the competitiveness of Australian businesses, to lower costs and to spur innovation. In this context, Digital transformation is expected to contribute $50 billion to the economy.
3. The consulting market is embracing the digital wave
The management consulting market in Oceania is primarily concentrated in Australia. It is steadily growing at 6% to 7%, an impressive performance for a mature market in a mature economy.

4. Key sectors for consulting are aligned with the Australian economy
Natural resources, energy, financial services, and the public sector are leading the way.
The Australian economy has gone 27 years without a recession, and while there are risks on the horizon, economic growth should remain solid in 2019, with business investment likely offsetting the slack created by a devastating drought, a contracting housing sector, and subdued consumer spending, was revealed in a recently published Deloitte Insights study.
Australia’s economy stays on track, and strong global growth in the region is adding to the Australian national income, while a combination of rising commodity exports and government spending is ensuring that economic growth continues at around trend pace.
5. Chinese Stimulus keeps Commodity prices higher than average
Australia’s mineral sector enjoys growth due to the Chinese stimulus, an effect of the ongoing trade conflict with the U.S.A is keeping key commodity prices, particularly iron ore and coal, higher than they would otherwise be.
However, the current strength in commodity prices is a response to an economic issue and is not expected to last long.
8 Strong leading business investment indicator-
They suggest that steady growth in profits, increased capacity utilization, low borrowing costs for big business and the need to spend money to maintain Australia’s positive mining capital stock, all point to growth in investment over 2019 and 2020, as per Deloitte Insights.
6. Economic risks on the horizon
The housing market is more vulnerable today, and there is a downturn in the house prices. Large house price falls, together with the significant fall in equity prices, may reduce households’ willingness to spend as their wealth declines. Also, Consumer spending will likely weaken as a result. Consumers will be relying on wage growth to boost spending, substituting the reduction in wealth. Wages have been improving but slowly.
Health and education sectors are demonstrating strong growth. The consumer goods industry is a clear example of disruption driving demand for consulting services. The financial sector is coping with the challenges of Fintech, the adjustment to new regulations, and the shift in customer perceptions. Natural resources and energy companies are currently looking for efficiency and cost savings.
The public sector represents a large chunk of the expenses. State and federal governments leverage digital for greater efficiency and implementing significant reforms. However, political pressure mounts to reduce consulting costs. States like NSW are launching specific programs to tackle consulting costs. They are implementing standardized definitions, capped rates, capped expense, and discount structure. But those programs will continue to face significant headwinds if sourcing revolves only around the incumbents and major consultancies.
7. Digital transformation’s effect on the region’s economy; its Stimulating effect on the Consulting Market
From a capability standpoint, the influence of digital capabilities cannot be overstated in driving a significant share of the projects initiated in the Australian market.
Projects encompass analytics, artificial intelligence, digitization of activities, and customer experience. The digital wave is also forcing companies to review their strategies, generating higher demand for the strategy consulting firms. As in most Anglo-Saxon markets, human resources related consulting is also well developed and growing.
8. Australia has embraced the Digital transformation
and sectors such as Banking, Trading, Retail, Education, Learning, Media, Communication, and Entertainment, have seen a significant technological boost.
The Australian government has launched a Digital Economy Strategy. And Australia’s Tech Future describes how the country can maximize the opportunities of technological change by focusing on key areas like developing workforce’s digital skills, deliver state digital services, building infrastructure and providing secure access to high-quality data, maintaining cybersecurity, and more.

If you are planning to launch a new Consulting project in the region, and need a fresh perspective?
Do not hesitate to contact us today.
We are here to help, and make sure you will pick the best Consultant for your project

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4 Reasons Why Dubai 2020 World Expo Will Spur Growth in the Consulting Market


“The tallest building in the world is now in Dubai, the biggest factory in the world is in China, the largest oil refinery is in India, the largest investment fund in the world is in Abu Dhabi, the largest Ferris wheel in the world is in Singapore.”-Fareed Zakaria

Dubai probably is one of the most modern and fascinating cities in the world, a crossroad of cultures and home to 3.13 million people, from 200 nationalities who work there. If you haven’t visited it yet, maybe you should consider it in the future. As a modern business hub, playing an important role, Dubai connects the Middle East to the Far East, and Europe to Asia. One of the major global trade events Dubai 2020 World Expo, will be hosted there. In this post, we will highlight a few reasons why this event will positively affect the city’s economic growth. But before we focus on Dubai, let’s discuss for a minute the Middle East as a region.
The New Middle East – Economically Robust, Politically Volatile–
Most countries in the region are moving forward with institutional reforms to diversify their economies and to improve attractiveness for investors.
Oil-related activities are registering a rejuvenated growth while non-oil related activities continue to develop as part of the regional government strategies to leverage oil related surplus.
The region is expected to grow slightly around 2.5% in the years to come. The political instability and the volatility of oil prices could, however, hinder significant investment plans and slow down the growth.
Saudi Arabia plans as part of its 2030 vision, to double their base of SMEs. The country is also heavily investing in technology start-ups both within and outside the country.
The top 3 sectors driving economic growth in the region are:

Energy sector, especially in the oil-producing countries,
Financial services, and related IT and HR services
Government related activities directly connected with education and large-scale infrastructure projects.

Israel, despite its small market size, and limited opportunities to expand locally, remains a very dynamic scene for start-ups, finance, and high-tech companies.

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In Turkey, the main drivers of the recovery from the recent financial crisis, are the on-going banking regulations, the Energy infrastructural developments and the growing investments.
As one of the fastest developing markets in the world, according to Joe O’Mahoney, the Middle East welcomed its first Consultants in the 1960s, and the 1970s, when local governments needed help to organize their ministries.
Still today, management consultants coming from Europe, and North America, provide services otherwise unavailable due to the limited number of local consultancies.
As local economies mature, the growth in the consulting market continues, more than twice faster than GDP.
Consulting also helps compensate shortages in skills, and it is not unusual to find entire departments made of expats and consultants. For example, speaking of U.A.E. and Dubai, the local Emiratis population represents just 20% of the overall population.
Beyond Energy, the diversification of the economy is firing on all cylinders driving demand for financial services to manufacturing expertise, as well as infrastructure and defense.

Increase in Consulting Projects –
Two major events with worldwide significance that will take will place in the Middle East are Dubai 2020 World Expo and FIFA world cup 2022 in Qatar, They are expected to stimulate the market, and create new substantial consulting projects.
Technology and Digital as well, similar to other countries, serve as catalysts for significant projects in all sectors of the economy.
Top 4 Reasons Why Dubai 2020 World Expo Will Spur Growth in the Consulting Market As Well–
World Expos bring together a global business community to share innovation, ideas and make progress on issues of such as the global economy, sustainable development and improved quality of life, and variety of other issues. The event attracts millions of visitors to see and explore pavilions, exhibitions, and cultural events. And as a major event, it boosts the host city’s economy.
1. Stronger Tourism Sector –
An expected 25 million visitors to Dubai during the Expo 2020, is already affecting the local economy. There was a 4% increase in the stock market index of Emirates right after it won the bid for Expo 2020.
The construction projects  that were delayed or derailed during the 2008 Global recession, are also back on track. We will see many more flights as well, and overall boost in transportation services.
2. Infrastructure Expansion –
World Expo puts a pressing demand on the infrastructure of the city, and Dubai 2020 World Expo requires significant development in that area. Jebel Ali area, where the event will take place, will benefit from new roads, metro extension, buildings, hotels and facilities to accommodate visitors.
3. Impact on the Job Market –
Expo 2020 will bring a boom in the job market as outlined here above, due to the increase of visitors, operations, business activity, and so on. The number of new projects directly related to the World Expo is anticipated to create  277,000 new jobs, mainly in the tourism, travel and entertainment sectors, as well as in construction.
4.The Need for Consulting Services –
The top 10 consultancies are taking note and have already established digital and innovation outposts in the region.
This influx of investments and Consultants to the Middle East could seem disproportionate when looking at the market size, not much bigger than the Benelux. However, the amounts and profitability of the consulting contracts can probably justify this phenomenon. The scarcity of local mid-sized consultancies reflects a lack of reliable, potentially cheaper service providers.

If your organization is based in the U.A.E. or planning to work on a Consulting project in the region,
we will be happy to offer you any assistance you might need to successfully plan and execute the project.
Please get in touch at your earliest convenience, and let’s take it from there

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Challenges and Opportunities for Consulting in Asia, and Focus on China as a Growing Market


“When the wind of change blows, some build walls, while others build windmills.” – Chinese proverb.

Asia as a region is dynamically growing, and we can assert that being the first to take advantage of the change in a new landscape gives you a tremendous competitive advantage.
1. Asia is the fastest growing region in the world  –
Despite the slowdown in China, Asia will continue to drive global growth stabilized at around 6%. But at the same time, the region shows significant differences across the various countries. India is spearheading the region north of 7%, with Japan close to 1% and South East Asia accelerating thanks to the robust local demand.
Demand is increasing for business strategy, corporate structure, and human resource management services.
The primary market remains Western companies expanding into Asia.

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2. India – Government’s new reforms promote business    –
With a growing middle class and eager young generations, India is taking advantage of business-friendly government reforms and is now the fastest growing economy in the world. It is expected to become the 5th largest economy by 2025, surpassing the UK after having overtaken France.
In 2014, the government launched an initiative to incentivize companies to manufacture their products in India. The ‘Make-in-India’ program aims to increase investments with up to 100% in Foreign Direct Investment spread over 25 sectors. However, the technology sector today with $100 billion remains the growth engine of the country.
India is experiencing exponential growth of digital, online, and automation. This will continue at a steady pace, even though offshoring seems to have lost some of its attractiveness to other countries, like the Philippines, and Eastern Europe.
Important to note that Financial services with growth in credit demand, the need for mobile payment technologies, and the demonetization underway, present a tremendous opportunity.

3. South East Asia – Fires Up  –
Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia are the region’s powerful economic engines, making South East Asia the 2nd fastest area of the region. But some countries such as the Philippines and Vietnam, are now growing faster than China. What started as a trading hub decades ago, is now a vibrant manufacturing and tech marketplace. The region is also rich with natural resources such as Oil, Mining and Agriculture with the largest producers of Palm Oil in Indonesia and Malaysia. Foreign investments continue to flow to the area, thanks to its political stability. Looking ahead, the economy remains bright, and steadily closing the gap on China.
Even though each country is rather small, the area has now reached half the size of North America or Europe at $50B. With some of the fastest-growing markets in the world, the region is expected to drive global consulting growth in the years to come.
4. Japan and South Korea  –
Together they represent almost half of the consulting market in the region. Consulting firms are progressively overcoming cultural issues and skepticism toward consulting. In Japan, business expansion overseas, M&A deals and growing demand for digital and cybersecurity are driving the market upwards. Whereas, in South Korea, the growth is coming from the need for digital and innovation support, as well as turnaround and restructuring. 
Taking a More Detailed Look at China and Its Unique Features 
Republic of China is fascinating for many different reasons. And the Chinese economy itself, is quite impressive. It is quickly becoming the world’s biggest economy in many industry sectors. The Consulting market is registering an impressive growth as well. Despite the fact that 2018 has seen some slowdown, the previous few years were quite solid. 

Compared to the GDP, China is still considered an emerging market. However, it has now a size equivalent to markets like France with a double-digit growth expected over the next 5 years. Major Consulting Multinationals have made it a strategic priority. Chinese companies tend to focus on long-term goals, and it is the right time to take advantage of such opportunities.
Chinese companies are increasingly seeking support in making a move and establishing a presence in Western countries – Europe and North America.The need to adjust to local cultures and practices is favoring the emergence of local Consulting Companies. All sectors are starting to use consulting more regularly.
Management Consulting market in China grows 12% to $4.5 billion (as of early 2017). China’s consulting market outpaced its economy, growing at double-digit growth to reach a total market value of $4.5 billion. In the future, China is likely to continue its enhanced rate of performance. And as these numbers suggest the current market size of $5.4 billion, China is now a larger management consulting market than France ($5.1 billion) and Australia ($4.6 billion), as well as the entire continent of Africa ($2.6 billion) and growing rival economy India ($2.2 billion). While it is still substantially behind the world’s largest consulting market of the US ($59 billion), it is rapidly competing with the UK whose sluggish growth due to Brexit, has slowed the Consulting market too. (maybe check these numbers again and mention the sources?)
Biggest Consulting Firms – China has continued to attract a flood of management consulting companies keen to tap into the booming market. Most major global consulting firms have expanded into China, with market leaders McKinsey & Company, The Boston Consulting Group, Bain & Company all present, together with other firms. They continue to dominate the largest market share in China, with strong brands, solid global credentials, ability to leverage their audit base, and end-to-end solutions, well suited to local and international clients as well. They mainly offer services in the fields of strategy, operations, human resources and marketing.
Changing Market & Demands by Sectors – The rising demand for consultants seems to be driven by multinational corporations increasing their investments in the country. Also government initiatives including the $4 trillion ‘Belt and Road’ infrastructure investment plan is also transforming the landscape for domestic companies, and clients across many industries who are transforming their business models in tune with digital innovation, and a slower-growing economy in 2018.
China remains the world’s manufacturing reference country. Modernized services have just surpassed industry and construction as the largest share of Chinese GDP. 1421 Consulting identifies eight high growth sectors for China.
Main Industry sectors include – 1/Advanced Manufacturing with greater efficiency and environment-friendly technologies; 2/Aerospace and 3/Automotive, as the country tries to bring more local production and create its own national champions; 4/Retail and Culture invigorated by the needs of the growing middle class; 5/Oil & Gas where the demand for energy is expected to almost double by 2030; 6/Life Science & 7/Healthcare with an aging population and an outdated hospital system; 8/Renewable as China aims to improve CO2 Emissions.
Challenges for Consultants – it is disappointing that China’s consulting industry is not maturing as quickly as Consultants hoped. Pricing pressures experienced by developed consulting markets continue to limit growth, while talent shortages have protracted the success of many firms attempting to stand out among an increasingly crowded market. A general lack of regulation and delayed payments on projects are also frustrating.

Key to success in China for Western consultants is to develop a customized, culturally sensitive approach, with sufficient local expertise.

Are you planning to start a Consulting project in China?
We will be happy to offer you the experience and expertise to streamline your project on the path to success.
Please contact us today, to learn more about Consulting Quest and allow us to learn about your goals and needs too.

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


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

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

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They have identified six key markers for potential suppliers:

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

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

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

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

External Sources

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

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

Ready to get started on your next project?
Need a fresh point of view?
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Focus on Latam & the Caribbean (South America) – Top 6 Trends You Need to Know About


“”If you don’t have a dog, you hunt with a cat.” – Portuguese saying

Innovation, improvisation, and creativity, as you will learn in the article below, can help Brazil lift its economy out of crisis, and provide an export boost as well.
The Latin America, or Latam, and the Caribbean region are dynamic markets having their own specifics. Let’s take a look at the main trends shaping up the region.
1. Steady recovery of the whole region as the economy transforms-
The Latam economy is heavily dependent upon commodity prices, making it cyclical or at least volatile. After a period of economic expansion, the region just faced a major crisis. With commodity prices recovering, Brazil remains the economic giant of the region. Growth is expected to be slightly above 2% in the coming years, just like Mexico and Argentina. Caribbeans are expecting some uplift from the post-hurricane reconstruction. The fastest growth in the region will likely come from the Andean Region and Central America, thanks to private consumption and international investments.

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2. Main Economic sectors driving the recovery –
With leading companies in Banking, Telecommunications, and Energy, the services sector represents two third of the GDP. There are also major industrial companies in Automotive, Aerospace, Consumer Products, and Chemicals driving significant investments from international companies. Mexico, given its proximity to the US, is mainly benefiting from an industrial integration, provided tariffs do not impact the current equilibrium. The Agriculture sector provides a wide range of resources from sugarcane to soybean or oranges, both for local consumption and export.
3. New and Modernized Infrastructure Expansion –
Local governments aim to reduce dependency on commodities and accelerate growth. They are set to expand high-value activities that will translate into infrastructure programs, easier access to capital, and promotion of digital and automation.
4. Reinvigorated Consulting market expanding and consolidating –
The Latin America consulting market is exiting the crisis looking entirely different while still growing at 6%. The market size is estimated at 3B$ with Brazil representing about half of the total. South Cones countries are experiencing the highest growth on a smaller basis.
In this unstable economic environment, Management Consulting Firms in the past years have been struggling to sustain revenue growth. As one can expect in case of a financial crisis, the late focus has been on taking out costs and increasing productivity.

5. The Brazilian “Brand” Can Thrive through Export As Well –
In Brazil, the management consulting industry is growing at 7%. The demand for financial, energy, operational efficiency, and digital consulting services is on the rise to cut costs and improve efficiency.
An interesting perspective on the specificity of the Brazilian brand was published in Forbes magazine recently. Brazil has a vibrant Creative sector which includes industries such as fashion, retail, music, film, art scene, books, and media. Brazil’s creative sector now employs 5.5% of Brazilians, engaged in related fields, accounting for 320,000 companies and millions of new jobs. For comparison, the agriculture sector employs 15% of Brazilians, but is rapidly shrinking. Agriculture accounts for 5.6% of Brazil’s GDP, while creative industries generate 2.6% – exhibiting a nearly 70% increase in the last decade. Today music, film and online media are growth sectors in Brazil, with music alone representing a $246 million industry, and both digital and physical sales continue to rise, despite the uncertain economy.
The Brazilian government has also shown support for the Creative Economy sector and has established an organization (“Creative Economy Secretariat) to specifically develop these endeavors. With more than 11 million Brazilians employed in the creative sector, lawmakers, strategists, and investors are expected to get more involved and provide sufficient backing.
6. Andean Region Shows Steady Growth –
The market in the southern cone is expected to grow at a high single-digit rate driven by the demand of the energy sector. Andean Countries with the growing linkage between Chile, Columbia, and Peru represent growth opportunities for international companies. Demand in Caribbean Countries is driven by HR, Organization Development and IT strategy leveraging in most cases local consultants. Financial services represent the main growth area for non-local companies.
Market demand for consulting in the region comes from a blend of large and mid-size companies. The region is open to new ways of working. As a result, demand from mid-sized firms has been significantly growing over the last years demonstrating a cultural shift.  Also, the industry is highly fragmented with less than 30% of revenues generated by Large Consulting Firm.
As a direct consequence, we see a wave of consolidation in financial services, energy, and healthcare. The large players are making a significant investment with the creation of dedicated units in Mexico, Columbia, Chile, and Brazil.

If you like to get a fresh perspective on your next Consulting project and find the best candidates, we are here to help!
Please contact us today for more information.

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  • Know the Consulting Category
  • Source Consultants
  • Optimize your Consulting Spend
  • Create Value Through Consulting
  • Leverage disruption to create more value through Consulting

Understanding consulting fees to make smarter decisions

You might be nonchalantly asking yourself, why do companies hire Consultants? Great question! To improve a process, to save money, or to get a fresh perspective, but most of all, to get access to very specialized skills that great Consultants can bring in.