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Lean Banking Can Transform Your Institution. Don’t ignore it.

Let’s start with the great news – financial institutions that are leveraging Lean banking operations achieve up to 30% cost reduction within 2 years, and are maintaining cost-efficient operations better than the average in the industry.
Lean processes are being adopted globally by organizations prone to inefficiency that are negatively affecting their earnings.



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

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

Grow your Consultancy

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3. Use Competition When Relevant – when not – Save Your Time-
There are many advantages to work with familiar consultants. But sometimes the savings are not worth the time and energy spent in organizing the competition among your prospective consultants
There is no need for competition in the following scenarios:

With small projects –

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

With unique skills –

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

When it’s a sequel project –

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

With urgent jobs –

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

Apply the right criteria

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

Gather the right team

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

Score/weight/rank with a common process

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

The project has to be relevant to your project

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

The references need to be fresh

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

They need to be about the team in your proposal

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

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

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How to Successfully Manage a Consulting Project in 6 Essential Steps

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

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

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

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

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1. Get organized to manage your project
Managing a consulting project is first and foremost managing a project. The same principles apply. To maximize the chances of success of your project, you will need to manage these three elements:

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

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

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

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

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Challenges of Open Innovation and How Consulting Can be a Catalyst for Open Innovation

“For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate.” – Margaret Heffernan

Open innovation is the use of purposive inflows and outflows of knowledge to accelerate internal innovation, and expand the markets for external use of innovation, respectively.
Beyond the extended role given to R&D, the concept also requires a contribution for all stakeholders in the company. Rendering the innovation process much more collaborative and guess what … open.
As we discussed in a previous blog post, the main sources of Open Innovation are:

Academia – universities, labs, and research centers
Customers, Suppliers and Business partners – their unmet needs, issues, and suggestions for product improvements
Industry Groups and Professional Associations where sharing of thought leadership and newest developments, is happening.

Optimize your Consulting Spend

Consultants are selling their time, or more precisely, the access to expert knowledge and execution workforce during a certain period. The potential of production of a Consulting firm is the amount of time available for billing. Every day not billed is lost, just like an empty airplane seat.

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And now here are some of the new challenges:
– Implementation of Open Innovation –
Recent reports revealed that about 80% of organizations are engaged in some kind of open innovation. But only a few would qualify those efforts as successful
– Balancing Act –
Cooperation of large companies & small start-ups. It’s a known fact that many small companies have reservations about Open Innovation collaboration with large corporations. It’s a matter of building trust and identifying common interests and mutual benefits.
The Virtual Technology Cluster (VTC) Group program provides a complementary platform for all existing accelerators, incubators, Academic programs, etc. as we focus primarily on connecting the innovation within each VTC to revenue.
– The Benefits of Curated Innovation –
The VTC Group attempt to take a much more curated approach to innovation. They aim to provide companies with a customized ecosystem of startups, academics, and government agencies to help bring the latest innovations that are happening in their field.
This curation process is crucial as there are considerable, and often unforeseen costs involved with open innovation.

How Can Consultants Become a Catalyst of Open Innovation for Your Organization? 
The outside world offers a plethora of opportunities in using Consultants as your “agent” in successful Implementation of Open innovation.
– Facilitating collaboration between large and small companies – Here is a challenge that both large and small companies face –  Large companies are often struggling to explore disruptive ideas as they focus on their core business. Small companies can be fast and agile in developing new ideas, but often struggle bringing these to the market as they lack the means and capability to do do, but if you find ways to combine their resources, the results can be quite interesting!
– Act as your sparring partners –
It can be beneficial to keep the line of communication open with a limited set of partners and bounce ideas as sparring partners. Besides, in those conversations, you manage what you want to disclose or not.
Last, when it comes to getting ideas, don’t underestimate the power of your procurement processes. Leveraging RFIs (Requests For Information) is a way to gather some elements before launching a full-fledged project.
Obviously, some RFIs have to turn into projects at some point. Otherwise, consultants could see it as brain picking, and the source and quality of what you gather will dry.
– Being a source of ideas –
As one of the senior partners from a large consultancy puts it: “We were developing the big idea and selling it.” Consultants were pitching strategy ideas and helping to bring them to fruition.
Today projects have evolved in sizes and shapes, but the scheme where consultants are pitching their ideas remain.
Consultants are also screening and processing a huge amount of information to stay current in their industry of specialization. With the emergence of dynamic start-up ecosystems, consultants have also started to maintain a mapping of the most recent and relevant ones. Oliver Wyman produces on a regular basis an interesting mapping of the start-ups in the procurement field.
– Facilitating innovation task forces –
If you are re-inventing your business or a business unit, the first step will be to help you determine what you expect from your innovation but also what are the limits that you are placing for the exercise.
Facilitation can be very useful to create the conditions to spur innovation. You can find in the market all kind of facilitation services. It ranges from the innovation consulting firms to futurists, that can help you project yourself a few years down the road, taking into account megatrends and technological progress to look at what the future holds. 
– Connecting you with third parties –
New technologies have made it possible to leverage the power of crowdsourcing. Companies like Innocentive and Nine Sigma, for instance, are pioneers in crowdsourced innovation. They help companies to define the problem they are trying to solve. They then organize challenges that can be internal to the company or leveraging their huge network of experts. They can also create specific galleries where clients are exposing their main challenges for experts to solve.
Beyond Crowdsourcing, consulting firms have experience with multiple customers on the same subjects but through different angles. They can also help establish connections when discussions between their clients would prove valuable and beneficial.

If your organization aspires to grow, you need to incorporate open innovation, build an innovation machine or innovate in your operations. The right consultants can be the catalysts you need to spur your innovation. To find out how we can help you, please connect with us today to discuss further.

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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.
And as the business environment constantly evolves, it’s safe to say companies need to evolve as well.

“The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” Mark Zuckerberg

Now let’s have a look at Consulting Economics – 
Consultants are selling their time, or more precisely, the access to expert knowledge and execution workforce during a certain period. The potential of production of a Consulting firm is the amount of time available for billing. Every day not billed is lost, just like an empty airplane seat.
They charge per time spend.
So the fee structure is usually geared to optimize the utilization rates. As for products or services you might be more familiar with, this ranges from Cost Plus to Value Based.

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Consulting Project Fees Framework –
Daily Rate: For smaller projects or exploratory phases, the Consultant can propose a negotiated daily rate. The total fee is then calculated based on the real number of days spent on the project.
Flat Fee: The most common fee structure for large projects. The Consultant will evaluate the work to be done and the deliverables to be prepared, and define the expertise and time needed to deliver the project. Afterward, two approaches are possible. Taking the workload based approach using daily rates or use this as a reference but price based on the value to the end client.
While the following breakdown is standard, remember to focus on the benefits and the value, as that’s the most important!
Performance-Based Fees: This fees structure, also called success fees, is linked to the achievements of pre-defined objectives. It is particularly effective for projects when the results can be easily measured, such as cost reduction, or top-line improvement. This often takes place as a bonus on top of a flat fee structure.
There are also other occasional fee structures:
Retainer: A retainer is a monthly fee negotiated with a client, based on a certain number of hours of support per month. This fee structure is mainly used by coaches or trusted advisors. It is often combined with spot projects since a retainer is usually the best way to be the first one aware of projects to come.
Equity-based Fees: This fee structure is often used with fast-growing start-ups that have little cash upfront or in case of turnaround situations. It is then up to the Consulting Firms to adjust the resources to balance risk and value creation.

Percentage-based Fees: The fees here are calculated as a percentage of a project or transaction amount and often used for M&A projects, for instance, where the consulting firms play a facilitation and brokerage role too.
Hybrid Type Fees: And finally, some project fees structure can be a hybrid of various fee structures such as a retainer with a negotiated daily rate when the amount of monthly hours is reached, a flat fee with an additional success fee, etc.
The best parameters to define a project price –
Since Consultants are primarily selling their time, the time spent on a project is the main cost driver. Usually, the price is calculated as the product of the daily rate per the number of days spent on the project.
But another essential parameter is the team composition. The experience can make a huge difference. You can expect a multiplication factor of 5 or more between an experienced partner and a newly-graduated analyst.
Another element is the share of time spent on the project. A full-time assignment is pretty straightforward: the consultant is supposed to be on site most of the days. Any part-time assignment can be vague, and very difficult to verify.
Pyramid structure to explain fees –
Part-time assignments of very experienced consultants can have a significant impact on the bill and can be extremely hard to track. Many of you have probably experienced the team of experts in the proposal at 10% of their time that you have actually never used. In the same fashion, ramp-up and ramp-down of team members should be linked to clear phases.
The specific industry where clients operate is an overlooked driver of the price for Consulting Projects. You will have the high-end of the spectrum – the Financial Services or Energy, where Consultants apply a premium, and at the low-end the Public Sector or Non-Profit Sector.
Finally, don’t forget the expenses when you are evaluating your budget. On certain projects, clients have agreed to up to 30% of expenses. Some Consulting Firms prefer a flat fee, expenses included, to avoid such discussions with clients.
Understanding the Consulting Industry is a pre-requisite to optimizing your Consulting Spend. Knowing your options can allow you to reach for innovative solutions, and to get more for your budget.

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

Book your call

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book your call

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7 Effective Steps to successfully launch your Consulting Project

The importance of information in planning and managing your Consulting projects cannot be overstated. Information is essential for the success of any endeavor. And naturally, whoever has the upper hand in the game, has the best chance of winning. However, at the center of successful Consulting lies mutual respect and mutually beneficial business. It has always been our credo at Consulting Quest that it is the most productive approach to all types of projects.
With that said, let’s discuss this topic in more detail.

As a general rule, the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information. – Benjamin Disraeli

There are some important points for consideration here.
Before you launch your next Consulting project, you need to review some critical aspects, such as:
1. The downside of asymmetrical information –
And why should you care as a client?
Asymmetrical information, otherwise known as information failure, refers to a situation when one party in a transaction has more information, than the other party. Almost all economic transactions involve some information asymmetries.

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

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

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

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

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

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The African Consulting Market is focused on Strategy and Human Capital

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

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


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

Consulting Playbook: Hospitality Leader Successfully Splits into Two Separate Organizations

The Consulting Playbook, Edition #8
The Travel and Hospitality Industry have gone through exciting changes that have transformed the entire traveler’s experience not just the industry itself. For hotels, hospitality services, and travel agents to stay in touch with evolving consumer trends, new and effective strategies need to be designed and implemented to secure revenues. Operations, services, customer relationship and marketing plans should align with the latest dynamics shaping up the industry.
Let’s have a look at a particular situation – A Worldwide Leader Hotel Group had to be divided into two separate companies both listed on the stock exchange. Creation of the new hospitality company posed the need to launch a large scale transition program involving dozens of countries in support of new standalone strategy.
The Executive Committee decided to hire a consultant to support and help accelerate the transformation process.
The Approach the Consultant took consisted of the following steps:

In-depth diagnostic of the management and culture, governance, and strategic landscape analysis were successfully completed.
Assistance to the Executive Committee in the design of strategic direction and transition program. Including actions to engage key stakeholders:

Brainstorming and Strategy Sessions organized with the CEO, the Executive Committee and a number of employees to define the strategic direction and the structure of the company wide program (level of ambition, growth levers, and transition programs)
Get the top managers from all countries involved in the implementation of the program

Engage the Board in the strategy and planning process tools and methods designed to support the launch of the strategic framework in all 40 countries (pilot case + specific support to large countries) Design and implementation of new governance and organization’s values and principles.
Strengthening the cooperation of the executive team to create an effective working environment. The overall corporate governance was reviewed and corporate functions reinstalled in a value adding role, with clear and shared priorities identified
Definition and support of four large scale transversal change programs on Innovation, Product Development, Technology and Talent
Roadshow event organized for all the 10,000 employees of the group to celebrate the launch of the new company and share the direction

The Impact on the Organizations achieved the following:

Successful onboarding of the new CEO and executive teams, helping them achieve a year’s progress in about three months
Four large transversal change programs defined and implemented
Successful completion marked by 20% EBIT rise and stock price hike by 40% – just one year after the 1st listing on Paris Stock Exchange.

Additional Information

Mobile and Technology Trends Affecting the Industry
Below we have outlined 3 new and notable marketing trends that every hotel and hospitality industry management needs to pay attention to:
1. Personalized Marketing Approach with a Guest Mailing List
With the growing share of online traveling and booking services and the leading providers such as Expedia, Booking, etc.; there is an underlying discrepancy with hotel chains and their access to guest’s personal contact information. If the booking agent desires to not share the guest’s email address, the hotel is at a disadvantage. Data is as important to hotels, as it is to all other businesses, when it comes to planning future marketing activities. Guest’s contact information is an essential and valuable piece in that puzzle. In creating that precious mailing list with previous guests, often the best option hotels are left with is their front desk staff being able to capture this information.
2. Mobile Marketing Impacting the Hospitality Services
Did you know that 52% of travelers who book trips online in 2016, are doing so using a mobile device? The mobile enabled technology and new consumer trends require a comprehensive mobile marketing strategy, and to become an integrated part of the overall marketing plans of every hotel and hotel management organization. This means that focus on responsive design, one-click booking, and location technology are very necessary points. Guests often use a cross-platform approach, so hotels need offer a seamless multiplatform experience before, during and after their stay.
With the growing competition from private accommodations, vacation rentals and alternative accommodations, the need for personalized guest offers and experience is even more pressing now, as hotels and hotels chains need to work harder to capture and retain market share. Creating last-minute mobile promotions with attractive bonuses can appeal to local residents as well, and younger guests who travel more spontaneously.
3. Increasing Revenues with the Help of New Data Trends
A few new trends in traveling and vacationing are rich in opportunity to be explored. They include last-minute trips which are growing steadily, the short local getaway and mini-vacations adding to that, and business trips combined with fun and pleasure, or Bleisure, as they are referred to. We will also see more multi-generational and multi-family travelling. But the best part is that, most of the new data on traveling is well captured via CRM that integrates data from both online and offline sources. This data, used properly, can empower an organization into planning and delivering the best experience and the most value, revenue and profits.
For Further Reading:
– Hospitality Industry Trends to Watch in 2016
– Predicting the Rise of the Smart Hotel in 2016
– What Do Millennials Want? Hotels Have Some Ideas
– The Best Travel Apps For 2016


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

3 Essentials When You Present Your Proposal to the Client

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

Learn the Secrets Behind an Sucessful Consulting Pitch

Your proposal is ready. Your team has researched, brainstormed, written, and designed the proposal to perfection.  And you’re pretty sure that you can do an amazing job on the project you’re writing about. Once the client has read your proposal, they’ll see that you’re the consulting team for the job.
Unfortunately, just sending a proposal doesn’t guarantee that it’ll be read. Proposals tend to be hefty things and most people have a lot to do with their time. They may not get the chance to read the whole proposal cover to cover. In fact, they may just skim through it, skip to the pricing section, or only read half of it, if other obligations arise.
In order to make sure that you get your ideas through to your audience, you can’t rely only on the written material. It’s also a good idea to make a verbal pitch. Before you make the pitch, keep these pointers in mind:

Present the members of your team to spark the interest of your client and really build your credibility.

If you’ve misunderstood the needs of your client—that’s OK. You can always re-evaluate and get back on track.

While most of us are more comfortable sending out written material than we are standing in front of an audience and presenting our ideas, having your team pitch its proposal can be incredibly effective.  Here are our top five tips to present your proposal and to impact your audience:
1. Don’t forget that it’s all about the client.
It’s tempting to devote time to talking about your background and your achievements—don’t. Take advantage of the time you have with the client to ask questions and provide further clarifications about your proposal.
If you feel that the proposal went slightly off-track, don’t be afraid to adjust and take it in a different direction. These meetings are great opportunities to co-construct with your client, according to her requirements. Take advantage of the time and to really home in on the client’s needs and create the buy-in.
2. Be mindful of the selection process.
Every company will define its own criteria to select the best consultant for its unique needs. During your proposal, you must make sure that you fulfill as many of those criteria as possible. If you do, you’ll maximize your chances of earning the project. There are several key points that almost every client will want to hear about, so make sure that you address them.

Deliverables: Be clear about what you will deliver to the client.

Impact: What will your impact be? Will your impact be made on the bottom line? On the teams?

Differentiation: What makes you the right consultant for the project?

Grow your Consultancy

The many common mistakes performed by consultants while preparing their proposals are not just inside their head. Mistakes often enter into proposals and presentations in the most awkward time and manner.

Read More

Ask your contact or procurement beforehand if there are other important points you should address.
3. Know your proposal inside and out.  
This may seem like a given, but the better your team knows its main talking points, the more confident you’ll be when you’re actually in the pitch. Before the actual pitch, try going over all of the main points out loud, so you can find any areas that could be better clarified.
Make sure that you know your parts, and that every team member knows his parts, too. Take reassurance in the fact that this is a collaborative effort, and that your teammates wil be there to field questions with you.
The bottom line is that the better everyone knows all parts of the proposal, the more confident you’ll all feel while you’re making your presentation.
4. Tell a story.  
People are always more interested in stories than they are in facts and figures. Even if the facts and figures are impressive, a story is much more likely to grab an audience’s attention and keep it.  
Stories work because at the heart of every story is the main character. A story involves people who look, think, and act like us. We’re always curious about what other people are like and what they’re thinking and feeling. So if you can make a point with a story, your team is sure to grab the audience.  
The story can be a simple one about how you went about implementing your ideas at a company, or it can be taken from historical and news sources. In general, if you find the story interesting, your audience will, too. A pitch is your team’s chance to impress and interest the audience with a story they can relate to.
5. Remember that a picture is worth a thousand words.  
Whether you believe in this saying or not, there’s no harm in using a few pictures along with all the written words in your proposal. This is easily done nowadays with the help of programs like PowerPoint.
Choose your pictures carefully. As per this article from Sitepoint, it’s possible to put your audience to sleep with too many charts and graphs. Of course, if your chart or graph makes an important, dramatic point, such as how changes like the one you’re suggesting have greatly increased revenue for other organizations in the past, you need to show your audience this.  
Overall, the images that work the best are the ones that people can easily relate to. If you’re suggesting a human-resources overhaul, you can use a couple of images of happy, smiling employees. This might seem too simple, but people respond positively to smiling faces and images depicting health and happiness.
6. Be humorous—but cautious.
Making people laugh can also help you to pitch your proposal. Make sure that none of your jokes are made at anyone’s expense. It’s hard to stay politically correct when it comes to humor, but a verbal presentation of a proposal is no place to challenge people’s norms!  So keep your jokes as harmless as possible.  
At the same time, there’s not much point in using a joke unless it is actually funny, and maybe even a little edgy. Have your team test out the jokes with friends and colleagues before you use them in your pitch. You don’t want your audience groaning when your punch line comes around.
7. Keep it short.  
This is a good rule to follow both for pitching proposals, and for writing them. Most good writers will tell you that writing concisely is the most difficult task. Delete everything that’s not necessary. Of course, this can be hard to do, because everyone falls in love with their own writing.
Make your pitch exciting, dramatic, informative, and short.  Pour as much as you can into the time you’ve allotted yourselves. Choose the points you’re going to emphasize with care and explain them fully. If your audience wants to know more, they can always read the proposal.
Try to think about your pitch from someone else’s point of view, so that you can remove any unnecessary talking points. No one wants to listen to an hour-long monologue. In short, your pitching material is different from your detailed proposal.

Consulting Playbook: How to Organize for International Growth

The Consulting Playbook, Edition #19
Welcome to our series, the Consulting Playbook, a collection of posts designed to offer insights into how businesses and their executives can utilize consulting as a strategic lever to boost performance. Each Consulting Playbook post is broken down into a few elements: Case Study, Additional Information regarding the technical application, and Additional Links related to the topic.
Organizing for International Growth
As it aimed to penetrate new markets in Asia and North America, a Global Industrial Company presently in South America and Europe, starting to plan acquisitions.
The strategy included consolidation of existing business and resources in existing geographies, while enabling expansion into new markets with higher growth potential.
The current Management Committee needed to be rearranged and position for its new role as boundaries between the Management Committee and Units’ Heads were at times confusing. Managerial roles and responsibilities had to be redefined. The corporate organization was not flexible enough to move ahead with the new business model. The New Markets Expansion required fresh partnerships and updated acquisitions.
The present functional design no longer matched the new potential growth the company was headed to. The CEO decided to engage the support of a consulting firm.
Analyzing the Best Model Moving Forward

Aligning the leadership team on the key principles for the new organization. Those would serve as design criteria for selecting the best option.
Assessment of all advantages and drawbacks was performed, aimed at improving the group organization design and governing principles. New possibilities and options were identified.

Purely regional model was strong for seizing growth opportunities but was not enabling efficiency improvements required by the industry
Purely sectorial model was enabling specialization and move towards customized high value solutions but was not the most reactive from a commercial standpoint

The best options were specified for further examination by the Group Management Committee which was expected to make decisions on A/ Organization, B/ Governance Principles and C/Roadmap of the main steps in implementation
The company decided to move towards a hybrid model enabling the best of both worlds at the cost of some added complexity

The New Scheme Successfully Positioned the Organization on the Path to Market Expansion
The new organization was poised for growth internationally. The current company could quickly evolve and position itself for new markets acquisition. The right balance between the business and the regional organization was established.
New organization’s structure was created with new management team in place. Key executives were picked & clearly defined responsibilities for each person were set. Next stage agenda has been outlined, to lead the new operational governance model.

Additional Information

How New Technology is Impacting Productivity in the Steel Industry?
With the development of new technologies, the impact on the productivity in the Steel Industry has been tremendous. Technological innovation is riding the wave through the industry. Market share of mini-mills has increased significantly, also plants that were not sufficiently vertically integrated were outperformed by competition, and output has been reallocated to more innovative produces.
The Industry Productivity has increased due to a few major factors:

The average plant becomes more efficient
A shift in resources from less efficient plants to more productive ones is taking place too
The arrival of the new and more efficient production process – the mini-mill, makes every plant more efficient

The face of the industry is changing, both on a geographical level and economic level. As a result of implemented changes, the prices and profits have decreased in the past few years. Productivity growth today is mainly driven by process innovation rather than new goods.
The Steel Industry according to latest stats, is still one of the fastest growing manufacturing industries behind only computer software and equipment industries.
The trends of the past 30-40 years in the US, shows that the rapid productivity growth and consequent decline in employment, were predominantly connected to the mini-mill. Contrary to some beliefs, globalization or steady drop in steel consumption did not cause that.
As a number of researches found out, the mini-mill outperformed the traditional steel plants, displaced the older technology (the vertically integrated type) and this way triggered reallocation of output, resulting in one third increase in productivity. This increase of productivity is entirely due to the new technology of the mini-mill.
It’s interesting to note the link between the lowered markups that fell by 50% in the last 40 years, and higher productivity led a consumer surplus of about $10B a year, an in-depth study on the topic was published in the American Economic Review in 2015, titled ‘Reallocation and Technology: Evidence from the US Steel Industry’ by Allan Collard-Wexler and Jan De Loecker.
For Further Reading –
– Outlook for the global steel market
– Steel Industry Stock Outlook – May 2016
– Steel Market Forecast 2015-2025


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

A Foolproof Guide to be sure to Ruin Your Proposals

The many common mistakes performed by consultants while preparing their proposals are not just inside their head. Mistakes often enter into proposals and presentations in the most awkward time and manner.
The following is a list of many of the possible ways we have seen consultants ruin their proposals. Examine the following list with care (and humor) because the proposal is often the first impression you make on the client and you know the saying: “The first impression is always right, especially if it’s a bad one.”

Call your client by another name. They like that; it’s like role playing! Even better, if you forget the name of their entire company, that will really impress them. They’ll think, “Wow, they can’t remember our name? Their business must be booming!”
Forget the name of a previous client on your document. Who cares about confidentiality? I mean, isn’t a name on a document just like a referral?
Present a generic presentation. Like people, all businesses are the same, so you don’t need to put too much effort into building your presentation. Right?
Don’t insert the company’s logo, or if you do, use the wrong one. What’s in a logo, anyway? Chances are, the client won’t even notice.
Don’t customize the resumes of the project team. No one cares about who the guys are on your consulting team. Their seniority and expertise don’t actually have much bearing on the project. Besides, the client should trust your judgement in personnel. That’s why they’re hiring you, isn’t it?
Don’t answer the questions of the clients. If you’re not careful, you could learn a thing or two about the context of the project and better tailor your proposal. Yikes!
Forget the criteria of choice included in the RFP. The client included that just for kicks. It’s really not that important and definitely not worth your time to include.
Present a bland presentation. Graphics and images are much too distracting. Keep your documents black and white with 12-point Times New Roman font and no formatting, except for paragraphs. That will catch their attention and show them that you mean business.
Don’t explicitly state your pricing. When it comes to pricing, it’s better to keep your client in the dark. He should just trust you on this one. After all, trust is rarely earned through clear communication.
Hide some fees here and there. It is just like an egg hunt. Clients love it, and it keeps them on their toes.
Forgo details about your approach or the deliverables. If the client has done their research, they should already know how your services will fit with their business needs.

Don’t explain the governance of the project. You might give the client a good understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the different parties involved. This would give the client the elements to estimate their internal cost for the project; see point 9 above.
When you change the pricing, don’t say so. Especially when it goes up! Clients love hidden surprises, almost as much as they love egg hunts.
Don’t talk about timelines or milestones. It is very often a minor subject for your client. Focus on how this is going to be a long-term relationship with no clear results or predictable costs. That will reassure your clients that you have everything under control.
Send the proposal by email, and wait for the client’s answer. Don’t give them the chance to ask questions. You could end up having to rework the proposal. What a waste of time!
Ignore the timeline explained in the RFP. The client will not include that element in the evaluation, unless you actually think they need your services in a timely fashion.
Use psychedelic color schemes. The tie-dye theme was a great hit at your seventies party. Your clients will love it too!
Don’t ask questions. You already know their business. Why would you waste all that time and energy? You are the consultant, and they’re here to learn from you, right?

Grow your Consultancy

Unfortunately, just sending a proposal doesn’t guarantee that it’ll be read.
Read More

Provide solutions to issues not found in the RFP. After all, you know their industry/product/market better than they do. Why not “wow” them with your prescient ability to create solutions in areas without any problems?
Don’t listen to the client. Listening to the client talk about their needs is a pain. You might have to collect more information or even have to rework your proposal to better meet their expectations.
Base your price upon a client’s ability to pay. Larger companies can pay more. It’s not like they picked you because they thought you would offer a better price, right?
The longer, the better. Need we say more?
Give them a long, comprehensive overview of your company. The client really needs to understand who you are, as a company, before anything else. You’ll get extra points if they fall asleep.
Don’t demonstrate an understanding of the scope and goals. Go directly to the pricing section. That’s what really matters to the client. 
Offer them the moon. Sure, you know that you can’t actually deliver the customer a 500% return on their investment in the first 6 months, but hey, the customer is really excited about that guarantee.

Okay. So, you get the idea. This list could go on and on, but these points are starting to sound like variations on a theme. (Speaking of variations, if you have never listened to the Paul Simon song this post is parodying, enjoy.)
In truth, these points are guaranteed ways to start a bad consulting relationship and probable ways to never start one. Some of them are even possible causes for litigation. The best way to avoid them is to do these 5 simple things: ­

Customize ­your presentation for each client. Every time.
Work on the form ­of your presentation. People are visual, visuals do matter.
Be clear on how you will do the work. Definitions and roles give everyone guidelines on how to move forward.
Be transparent about the pricing. Customers really don’t like hidden prices, and it’s not like an easter egg hunt.
Start working the relationship with the client. Communicate, listen, ask questions, and understand that this is their business. Your job is to help their business succeed.

Do these five simple tasks and you can avoid any number of ways people ruin their proposals.

Consulting Playbook: Startup Capital Secured in Partnership with Chinese Party

The Consulting Playbook, Edition #30 
The context of this project comprised of assisting the CEO in developing a funding and marketing plan for his new business as well as the implementation of the plan. The assignment also included a trip to China, accompanying the CEO, to develop the supply chain and present his business case to potential funding sources.
The main goals were to create a viable business plan and to obtain funding in addition to coaching the CEO on leadership, strategy, and marketing.
The Consultant’s Approach
The consultant first needed to develop a deeper understanding of the business case and make an assessment on the CEO’s native skill set. After the initial analysis, the CEO was advised on the critical skills needed for the company’s growth identifying which capabilities were already in-house and what needed to be outsourced.
It was important for the Executive to gain a firmer understanding of the investor’s perspective on the company prior to engaging in funding conversations. After further review, the consultant connected with local finance experts tailoring the case to Shanghainese norms and expectations. The business case was presented and thereafter began to facilitate the negotiations. After the project was completed, the CEO maintained the relationship utilizing the consultant as a mentor.
The Successful Outcome
The sourcing aspect of the assignment went exceedingly well as several suppliers signed preferential term sheets with the client. The funding was secured, and accomplished in two phases, VC’s from connections with CEIBs and the CEO’s personal connections. The company as per VC market was still underdeveloped. The investors were interested in 50% or less ownership, additional funding on behalf of the CEO had to be secured through a Small business loan.

Additional Information

Doing Business in China – Tips for Entrepreneurs
China is an interesting destination, and by now, is no secret that is one of the most important developing countries to do business in. However it is well-known to foreigners that cultural difference can present a serious obstacle for successful completion or even start of any business initiative.
Therefore for anyone planning to travel there and engage in business, it is absolutely necessary to learn cultural models and adjust their expectations and behavior accordingly.
Here are a few valuable insights:

All Proposals and Agreements Must be In Writing –

Regardless of phone conversations, meetings, and email communication, all business related issues must be put in writing, in detailed and clear form. Also if translations need to be made of the documents, they must be done too, in order to ensure all content is understood by all parties. Copies to be provided too…

Business Card Exchange –

In Chinese culture, this is still an important part of meeting a new prospective partner. So make sure you have plenty of cards when heading to a meeting.

Importance of Relationships –

If you are just a stranger, and haven’t met Chinese people and done your networking, this is where you need to start before any actual business takes place. People feel more comfortable doing business with people that they know and are comfortable with. Keep in mind that it takes time to establish and nurture relationships, so the sooner you start, the sooner you will be able to conduct business too. As they say in China, it can take a year or two, for Chinese people to start trusting a new partner. So plan in advance and adjust your timeframe.

Never Make a Chinese Person Lose Face –

Western culture can be more tolerant toward cynical behavior, jokes, or critique, but to a Chinese business person, a sense of dignity is crucial. Whenever there is an issue or a conflict situation, it should be resolved with extra care in order to preserve other parties’ reputation. Once an offensive action has been taken, it will be very hard to overcome the damage it caused.

Respect Rank and Hierarchy –

China might be less strict in this way, compared to other Asian cultures, but still it is important to observe hierarchy of individuals you do business with. For example, meetings are conducted between individuals on the same level. The Chinese party can be greatly offended if this protocol is bypassed.

Friendliness and After-Work Socializing –

In Chinese culture business relationships extend into informal team dinners, lunches, even karaoke visits, and relaxing massages at spa centers. Do not be surprised by these invitations, and be willing to accommodate them in your schedule. It is just the opposite to the popular idea in the West that business and pleasure should not mix, Chinese people will disagree with that. It is a normal behavior to engage in fun activities as team after work, so just enjoy it!
For Further Reading:

Why Entrepreneurship Is So Different between US and China
China’s Startup Scene: Some Important Lessons Learned
Tips for Entrepreneurs that want to do business in China
American Vs. Chinese Business Culture


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

Consulting Playbook: Introducing Process Management as an Integration Accelerator Following a Merger

The Consulting Playbook, Edition #9
The COO of a Leading Aerospace company asked for an expert’s help as the organization was in the middle of a major transformation, following the merger of four national companies. Evaluating all the complexities of the merger, the expert planned to direct the process toward the top 3 goals:

Ensuring the Overall Company’s Integration
Improving Corporate Performance
Increase Efficiency and Collaboration on all levels

How the Transformation Unfolded
The Consultant’s early efforts focused on creating a buy-in of the concept and identifying how process owners could be empowered in their impact (creating accountabilities, budgets, and aligned incentive system). It was decided to start with a few pilot processes.
The next step aimed at building alignment for the process management with the senior leadership team, and driving awareness throughout the entire organization. A four-stage approach was designed to deliver on the objectives as following:

Robust Architecture created for all the processes from domains, to major processes and general processes
Well-defined roles and responsibilities for all the participants (process owners, process operators, process quality assurance…)
Detailed methodology of the process management including process maturity gates, and cost/effort planning
Pilot projects for some processes considered to be critical (configuration management, and design)
Communications/change platform that included branding, executive and general policies, awareness toolkits, training, change “boosters”, articles and newsletters, and a process management handbook distributed.
The Project Team supported by the Consultant leveraged by the hands-on support to the priority processes/owners identified, with detailed reporting to a subset of the Executive Committee
End-to-End Process management was introduced to efficiently manage the whole business and connect all the functions.

 Solid Cost Savings and Employee Satisfaction and Engagement
The integrated process management approach is a continuous effort given the complexities of the client’s merger efforts and their products, however the early outcomes and results can be summarized as following:
For the Organization

Accelerated integration as all parties are now using standardized definitions and a harmonized process building based on the best practices of all legacy companies with new digital practices added
Total estimated cost savings of €1 B total (efficiency gains, reduced development lead times with first time improvements, tools standardization) with €300 K total reached after one year.

For their Employees

Increased collaboration and visibility, multiple interfaces with others
More clarity within job activities and deliverables definition
Positive impact on Engagement Survey results

Additional Information

Top New Trends and Their Influence on the Aerospace Industry
The sky is the limit figuratively speaking for the growing Aerospace sector of the past few years. But along with the raising demand for air travel, huge backlog of new aircraft orders, and projected revenues for the major players, there is an increased focus on profitability too.
The latest trends that will influence the near-term results are:
1st. Technological Advance
The way aircrafts are designed, built and look like, is always evolving, and we are witnessing great improvements in cabin design, noise reduction, together with top notch avionics’ tools and components. The advanced manufacturing technology requirements and conversion to new electrical systems are also changing how aircrafts are manufactured, inducing change and bringing new challenges across the whole production cycle trying to keep up with the OEMs (original equipment manufacturer).
2nd. Increase in Replacement Demand
As airline fleets age, and aircrafts wear out, especially in mature markets, the need to update and modernize the fleet, is more pressing than ever.
With fuel efficiency and technologically advanced aircrafts, are being held as priority features, as many airlines are placing new orders. Over the next two decades the trend will continue.
3rd. Lower Oil Prices Affecting Growth and Demand
The lower oil prices have successfully influenced airlines’ profits, but aircraft manufacturers might be concerned with slowing replacement demand specifically short term too. Lower oil prices often can translate into lower fares and savings for the travelers resulting in higher air traffic, and at the same time the long term projections, are less concerned with current oil prices, and are considerably less optimistic.
For Further Reading:
– Which States are Attracting Aerospace Companies?
– 2016 Aerospace and Defense Industry Trends
– 2016 – World’s Top 10 Commercial Aerospace Companies
– The Top 10 Best Practices of Business Process Management
– Best Practices in Business Process Management


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


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