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

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

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

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

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.

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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

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

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.

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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

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.

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

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.

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Prepare your teams for when the Consultant leaves

Prepare your teams for when the Consultant leaves

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

Use Consulting Strategically

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

Read More

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Information

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

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

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

t

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

7 Effective Steps to successfully launch your Consulting Project

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.

Leverage Disruption to create more value through Consulting

Management consulting companies have mastered the art of selling “digital transformation” projects to clients, but still struggle to adopt digital tools in their business model.

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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.

Book your call

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What Is the Right Size for Your Consulting Team?

What Is the Right Size for Your Consulting Team?

A consulting firm is a dynamic organization that is vulnerable to the fluctuations of the business cycle. New projects come and go, and the people who staff your firm tend to change over time. While you may not have current problems with recruitment, finding the appropriate level of staffing is tricky. A major economic event could shift the entire market, meaning that your company might quickly lose or gain projects that affect your staffing scheme. Whether you have too many staff on hand or not enough, firms rarely end up in the middle with the perfect number of consultants.
Due to unpredictable economic changes, it’s important to have a flexible staffing plan that accounts for factors affecting your firm’s optimal size, taking into account the structure of the business and the market demand. The appropriate level of staffing is not an issue that will go away. With too many consultants, you could lose profitability in the case of headwinds. Without enough consultants, your firm could miss important opportunities to grow and profit. In addition, having excess staff could mean that your firm accepts projects for which it isn’t qualified, which creates the risk of damaging your credibility. In a consulting firm, delivering great value and return on investment for your clients is a must have, but the key to profitability is finding the size and cost structure that works for you.
Optimizing the risk rewards equation
The driver for profitability, in all asset-intensive businesses, is optimizing the utilization of the assets. Consulting, despite being asset light from a tangible asset standpoint carries the bulk of its costs through salaries and follows the same rule as consultants on the payroll also generate the value. This means that you need to find the right trade-off to get the maximum economical performance results from the utilization of each employee, without overextending your human capital budget.
Besides sizing, finding the right equilibrium between base salary and bonus Is very often an underestimated lever. Many consultancies consider the total compensation as a fixed cost and link the bonuses to the quality of delivery without taking advantage of the flexibility it could provide.
Tying part of the bonus calculation to the economic profitability of the firm can not only mitigate partially the risk of the downturn but also drive the right behaviors from your consulting staff.
Another lever can be, to change the ratio between base salary and bonus to lower the guaranteed amount but grant higher rewards if the firm is doing well. This is a deal that many young consultants are more than willing to take as it mimics the classical partner structure the aspire to.

Sizing for the Unexpected
Just like staffing for any business, maintaining the right number of employees directly affects your profitability. Keep in mind that, once you have people on the payroll, you measure profitability by what remains after their checks clear your company bank account.
Your firm makes a financial obligation to employees, at least in the short term, by offering ongoing employment and perhaps benefits and perquisites. When you extend your budget for a certain number of staff, financial issues and downsizing might threaten your ability to keep them on the payroll. Or worse, the pressure to keep up with your payroll needs could lead you to unscrupulous or deviant behaviors to capture new business.
You cannot always predict an economic downturn. Because of this, your firm should add new employees in stages, so as not to overextend the payroll budget. It’s always easier to hire new consultants than it is to fire them, so be prudent. If you do have to begin downsizing, you run the risk of blemishing your firm’s reputation and damaging relationships with your consultants.
Investing in Non  Production activities
When reviewing you sizing assumptions it is important to anticipate that not all days will be productive.

Staff your Consultancy

When you have the energy and focus you need, you can build great product funnels and create value for your clients.

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First by design as assignments usually don’t align themselves to optimize your own schedule. Second as you need to dedicate some time to other activities that are key to the sustainability of your company. Those activities will range from commercial and networking to more knowledge related tasks on research, capitalization, thought leadership and knowledge sharing. This layer in your resource planning is extremely important as it will condition your ability to bring something fresh to your clients and also your flexibility to move from one contract to another.
Preparing for good news
Once you have defined the minimum size and added some resources to handle other activities, choosing the right size for a consulting firm is still not an exact science. As it turns out, with a sizing like this you might be unable to take additional projects and therefore to grow your business.
The secret formula lies somewhere in the ideal balance between internal and external resources. This means that you have enough full-time consultants on staff to provide stability and to inspire client confidence. While at the same time, you have successful partnerships with external organizations and individuals to meet the requirements of special projects on schedule.
You want the size of the staff to meet the level of projected demand. You also want your company to build a network of value partners and qualified subcontractors. This enables your firm to augment consulting staff when the demand for all projects exceeds your internal capacity. When you accept new projects, you can temporarily take on extra consultants. Later, you can scale down to the usual team size, especially after those extra projects are completed. Unless in the frame of a deliberate strategic move, none of your projects should extend your firm too far beyond its core competencies.

Partnering With Qualified Staff
While you may rely on external consultants, you must also ensure that each of these resources possesses the right skillset for the job. Not every consultant will have the appropriate qualifications for each new project. You may need a diverse recruitment strategy to attract subcontractors who can augment your operations.
Beyond the optimization of your cost base and the proper management of your company’s risk profile, working with external partners creates new business opportunities. When you expand your professional network, you can pitch new business. Your additional partners can bring capabilities that are complementary to your core business. At first, this may seem like conflicting advice, but your firm should begin by adding partners with capabilities that closely relate to your core competencies.

While you could augment your staff through relationships with other firms around the world, it’s important to choose those located in countries or regions that offer your company the biggest competitive advantage. The intent is to win new business. This occurs, in part, by attracting the interest of the companies that are familiar with your new business partners.
Finally Answering the Question: What is the Right Size for Your Consulting Team?
Your firm will eventually adjust the number of staff, hopefully, to include more consultants. This will mean that the pessimistic scenario is improving and that you are actually growing your activities in a sustainable way. Even though financial challenges may arise, you will agree that the best time to add more human assets is when things are going well. When your company is successfully completing its current projects and attracting more projects and your worst case scenario in term of planning can cover your internal staff it may be time to consider adding at least a few consultants to your team. In essence, you are scaling up to prepare for future growth while managing risks. Looking at your teams and discussing the capabilities needed for new opportunities, as well as factoring in the use of qualified partners and subcontractors, will help you to optimize your consulting set-up.
Balancing your current resources, while leveraging partnerships, doesn’t mean you need to fundamentally change your recruitment plan but those adjustments can make all the difference on your balance sheet, reduce risk, provide higher rewards to your employees and open up new opportunities to fuel your growth

Consulting Playbook: Executing a Strategic Change from Hospitality to Service Provider

Consulting Playbook: Executing a Strategic Change from Hospitality to Service Provider

The Consulting Playbook, Edition #29
A large hospitality leader decided to initiate a strategic change from a pure hospitality business to becoming a service provider. As a result, all the global distribution teams needed to be repositioned, including all 800 direct and indirect sales people. The company decided it was best to look for the support of a consulting firm.
The Consultant’s Approach
The first task was focused assessing and optimizing the performance of the sales force and sales tools. The diagnostic addressed multiple dimensions of the sales force effectiveness: Sales force organization, sizing, territories, workload, talent, compensation, etc. The entire commercial perimeter was looked at: B2B sales in all sectors (by company, intermediary, etc.) and for all businesses, one shot sale, or multi annual contracts. The recommendation was made and the consulting firm also aided in the implementation of the strategy. The implementation of new tools was done in the first few months. They were able to save time by using standard tools and reducing costly customization. After the arrival of new tools, the organization adjusted and optimized all processes. Additional talent was brought in to handle the new scope of work.
The Success of the Project Concluded with the Following
Great reorganization deployment was achieved in less than 6 months, and all stakeholders provided support. The company achieved the deployment of the new sales process without additional investment and noticed a significant improvement in their B2B Sales Performance by 15% for all large and medium size accounts.

Additional Information

The Most Interesting New Trends in Hospitality
Smarter Hotels
Hotels managed by robots? It’s happening in Japan already! And it’s becoming more common for hotels to have self-check-in available in the lobby and even at hotel bars, while in-room Netflix, sufficient Wi-Fi, and Apple TV services are quickly becoming an industry standard. Hotels are abandoning the old and embracing the new.
Free Wi-Fi Always
Wi-Fi is as necessary as a bathroom for most traveler’s stays. Many hotels are expanding their networks to provide more reliable service, while some beachfront properties are even expanding their networks to outdoor areas and beaches.
Lax Check-Out Times
Late check-outs for no extra charge are becoming more popular, with many properties allowing guests to decide when they are going to checkout, instead of requiring them to vacate their room at a certain time. Other hotels are experimenting with 24-hour blocks; if you check in at 3PM, you have until 3PM the next day to check-out.
Hotels Get Ready for Millennials
Hotels try to appeal to millennial travelers. Millennials are looking for hi-tech, high-touch experiences when they travel. They also seek out personalized, gourmet experiences for a reasonable price. Big-brand hotel groups are tapping into the youth market by launching brands with cheaper price points and putting a strong focus on lifestyle, locality, and insider knowledge. Lobby bars and hotel restaurants in these new hotels are being opened up for a combination of work, play, and dining spaces, designed with this youthful customer in mind. Since millennials are quick to criticize via social media, customer service will be key in winning over this group of travelers.
Eco-Friendly Focus
Hotels continue to commit to sustainable practices. In New York, 16 hotels have signed a commitment to lower their greenhouse gas emissions by 30% in the next decade. 1 Hotel Central Park has started educating guests on sustainability, where all of the hotel’s showers have a five-minute hourglass in order to remind guests of careful water consumption.
For Further Reading:
• Travel and Hospitality Industry Outlook 2017 • The Future Of Customer Service: Five Consumer Trends And Best Practices • 6 Mega-Trends in Hotel Technology

t

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

Consulting Playbook: Hospitality Leader Successfully Splits into Two Separate Organizations

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

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

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

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.

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