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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

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“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?

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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

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“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.

Book your call

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

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“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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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

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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

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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.
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Consulting Playbook: Creating a Global Manufacturing Engineering Function in a Decentralized Environment

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The Consulting Playbook, Edition #10
Profitability and profit margins in 2016 for most manufacturers pose a plethora of risks and their effective management, is critical. From navigating compliance, minimizing overheads, to skilled labor and market share expansion, the sector sees its share of pressure.
A major Manufacturer was operating through a dozen of separate plants spread across a few countries. Until the commencement of the project, the plants, as a result of successive acquisitions and integrations had been managed individually with incomplete cohesion on an executive level.
None of the systems were the same, leading to major production issues, the teams were using different terms equivalent activities or even worse, the same terms to define different activities. Each single attempt to change anything was facing the same push back: we don’t do it like this here. Equipment was different, processes were different, very often influenced by the geographical location of the manufacturing units. New projects were requiring the participation of representatives from all plants, even in early phases, and the decision making was a headache.
What was at stake?
Considering the challenges and the stakes the Head of Operations asked the consultant to focus his effort on three priorities:

Ensure a successful integration of all plants
Boost the overall manufacturing performance
Increase the efficiency and implement strengthening of collaboration

The goal was to optimize all plants’ resources and homogenize the Manufacturing Engineering processes to smoothly create one community. The project leader proposed a plan creating a central core with regional extensions to all separate plants. The Consultant was asked to assist with setting up the new entity.
What was the consultant’s approach?
They undertook efforts to build an alignment between all the stakeholders towards the new model of setting up a single entity. The new Manufacturing Engineering Head worked in close cooperation with Plant manager to come up with a common operating model. New personnel and management needs and tasks were addressed.
The Main Steps Taken Included:

Establishing shared definitions of all Manufacturing Engineering functions key processes.
Identify the savings potential by moving to the new model (case for change)
Define the core body and plants’ extensions duties
Determine resource’s drivers and appropriate sizing
Develop a transfer plan for all manufacturing engineering teams to ensure full resource utilization within the support of HR department.
Design and monitor the full transition process with introduction of efficient follow-up tools
Implement a 3-month follow-up of the transfer plan

What were the benefits for the client?
The newly established Manufacturing Engineering entity successfully took off, and managed to increase efficiency by reducing 20% of resources’ use. The model with a small core and decentralized entities allowed for a smooth connection between the teams and the next major project moved smoothly, on time, costs and performance from design to manufacturing. The following ramp-up and collaboration across sites was greatly facilitated by the newly defined vocabulary and process referential, reducing the cost of non-quality by double digits.

Additional Information

Biggest Issues for US Manufacturing Today
Manufacturing in 2016 faced some interesting challenges. Shaky financial markets and unsteady growth kept majority of manufactures with unsatisfying results and low profitability among other issues. Even though American market appears attractive to foreign capital, manufacturing in a number of sectors lags behind international companies. US companies in the past few years have not efficiently utilized latest technologies and implemented latest data analytics into the production processes, or in their strategic management.
With that said, let’s have a brief look at some of the biggest issues manufacturing is facing today on a global scale:
Five Essential Challenges to Address:

Late Innovation

In a global market, companies need to constantly implement new technology and innovation, to stay competitive. It might come as a surprise but according to many experts and research done, US manufacturing is lagging behind some international companies in technology and innovation. And that plays an instrumental role in driving prices down, as well as enhancing the overall customer experience.
Special emphasis in this area goes toward IT security, unauthorized access to company’s data, is a serious risk to any company. Another crucial point is protection of intellectual property, mainly from sources outside of the US.

New Products Development to Boost Revenue and Profitability

While you can win customers on price alone, it’s a very different picture to win on providing a brand new customer experience from start to finish. The task before modern Manufacturers now is to offer new and diversified products customized to the consumers’ needs, and to do faster than competition. Non-American companies in the last few years, are proving to be more innovative, and able to provide better and more satisfying customer relationship.

Need for International Expansion

With the strength of the  U.S. dollar, American companies now have the opportunity to expand their reach and successfully enter international markets. Strong dollar, and cheaper commodities might be a solid incentive, but there are challenges too – international taxation, culture difference  and state regulations. The relative strength of the U.S. economy also attracts foreign companies wanting to get into the US market, creating even more competition.

Process Improvement and Margin Management

Thriving U.S. companies today succeed in part because they continually establish higher benchmarks to force improvements; new ideas and innovative concepts are implemented, and when precise metrics are introduced, profitability and return on investment can be accurately measured. These companies also report larger increases in productivity, driven by process improvements, improved labor and equipment utilization as well. In volatile economic conditions, strong margin management is becoming increasingly important.

Skilled Workforce Needs

The shortage of well-qualified workers continues to be an issue that tampers companies’ growth. Sufficient and attractive education and training programs must be developed, promoted and implemented to sustain younger workforce. More manufacturers today have an international approach and look for skilled workers globally.
For Further Reading:
– 2016 Global Mobility Trends for the Manufacturing and Engineering Industry
– Industrial Manufacturing Trends
– 2016 Industry Outlooks
– The next era of global growth and innovation
 

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.

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

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

 

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

Optimize your Consulting Spend

You have decided to grow your Consulting Procurement Capability, the first thing you need to look at is analyzing your Consulting Spend that will allow you to establish your baseline.
Read More

There are a few key levers to improve the ROI of your Consulting Spend:
 

Improve Your Sourcing Process –

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

Implement Demand Management –

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

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

Check Consultants’ Qualifications –

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

Define Consultants’ Performance Criteria –

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

Utilize Quick Gains at an Early Stage –

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

Leverage your data – Slice, Dice, See Patterns

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

Know Your Panel of Consulting Firms Well –

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

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

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How to find the right Consultants for your Project?

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Finding the right consultant for your business can be a tricky process. It’s not just about knowing where to look, but knowing what to look for. Just like hiring a new employee, you want to be sure your new consultant is someone who will actively support and help you achieve your business goals. So, where do you begin?
Before you start your search for a consultant, clarify exactly what you types of results you are looking for. You know for sure your primary objective: increase sales, update marketing efforts, overhaul your HR department… But are you clear on the scope? Do you want a benchmark of best practices, a diagnostic of your current performance or support in the implementation? Besides have you identified how you will measure success? The clearer your goals, the easier it will be to home in on the right consultant for the job.
Whether you’ve received a referral from a friend or you’ve been exploring your options on the internet, it is important to keep these needs in mind while looking for a consultant. Someone might blow you away with her ideas and proposals, but if she’s not going to give you the results you need, there’s not much point in hiring her. However, by taking your time, doing your research, and considering all the facts, you will be able to find a consultant who’s the right fit for your company.
So, if you’re wondering how to find a consultant who can provide the outcome you’re looking for, here are a few tips:

Source Consultants

Hiring a consultant who has successfully worked for many other companies helps you and your team gain a different perspective.

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1. Ask questions.
Finding a consultant online is not just about putting in your requirements to a system and waiting. You need to ask the right questions. One great way to do this is by reading a consultant’s past reviews. Has she worked on projects similar to yours? Has she been able to produce results? Has she effectively increased the bottom line of the companies she has worked with?comfortable. You should be able to communicate with her easily.
2. Ask whom she has worked with.
According to this article from Huffington Post, you should find out if the consultant has worked with businesses of the same size as yours. If she has generally worked with small businesses, she may not have the right skills to work with large ones, and vice versa. Try to get a feel for the businesses that are rating the consultant. If you find that businesses of the same size and focus as your own are rating a consultant well, then there’s a good chance that she will be a good fit for you, as well.
3.Do you feel comfortable with her?
This article from Huffington Post is about bridal consultants, which is probably not the type of consultant that you’re looking for.

Interestingly, however, many of the things that people are looking for in a business consultant are the same things that they’re looking for in a bridal consultant. For example, you know that the consultant is not right for you when “you feel pressured to make a quick decision,” “you feel like she’s not listening to you,” “you feel judged” and “you feel neglected.” Even when you’re making business decisions, it’s important that the consultant with whom you decide to work makes you feel
4. Communicate.
Before you even ask for a proposal or presentation, you should communicate clearly with your potential consultant about what you are looking for. Make it clear that you expect workable results and not just theoretical ideas. Tell her about your goals and your current strategies for how to achieve those goals. Familiarize her with the structure of your business and the types of products or services you provide. The more you can tell the consultant about yourself and your business, the better she will be able to serve you. The consultant who pays attention, asks questions, and works your ideas into her proposal, is one who likely deserves your business.
5. Read proposals and listen to presentations.
Most consultants will be delighted to write a proposal tailored to your business. You might feel like you’re asking the consultant to do a lot of work. However, most good consultants will be happy to have the chance to show you what they can do, in as much detail as possible. If a consultant feels like your business is not worth putting in that extra effort for, then you know that she’d likely not be a good fit for the job. When you’re given a proposal, don’t just skim over it. Be respectful of the time and effort this consultant has put into preparing it, and make sure that you give it your full attention. The same goes for the presentation. Be attentive, and if you have any questions for the consultant, now’s the time to bring them up.
By setting clear goals, doing the proper research, and knowing what to expect from the right candidate, you will be able to move forward with confidence and find a consultant who can get the job done.

Consulting Playbook: Optimizing portfolio and program management in Financial Services

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The Consulting Playbook, Edition #21
Keeping the Momentum After Years of Continuous Growth in Financial Services
A major Financial Services company experiencing rapid growth for many years (both in assets under management and staff) faced a number of issues with it. The industry has become increasingly complex with methods and products ever more sophisticated, as the assets under management grew to over $100B, the management required help in identifying clear goals, in pace with the growth. The operations started lagging behind demand and an impediment in overall strategy implementation was starting to shape up. The Consultant had the major task of identifying discrepancy and pain points in operations, as well as to discover new opportunities in efficiency to enable growth.
Diagnosis and Aligning New Roles for the Organization

A comprehensive organizational diagnostic was carried out for all ongoing activities and projects. They were later divided in to 6 groups – business programs with clear outcomes and goals identified (technology, tools, processes, governance, …)
A project management office was developed simultaneously with roles, responsibilities and governance for each business unit defined
High level evaluation of capacity versus commitment was performed identifying operations issues
A Steering Committee was put in place with focus on business programs, staffing, and all accountabilities across the entire organization

The Successful Outcome Produced Measurable Results
The Investment Department and Operations were aligned with an increased management focus, and facilitated coordination between them through the full operating model. A central management office was established with the following roles:

Proactively manage the portfolio of initiatives – current and future ones
New program management approach implemented that was centered around defined business outcomes

Prioritization and capacity planning was significantly improved including the resource allocation process. Equipped with this new governance and redesigned decision processes, the company continued its growth and successfully weathered recent headwinds from the financial industry.

Additional Information

Priority Issues Asset Managers Need to Address
The Asset management industry is under pressure, and a number of hot issues affecting the present, will also shape its future. The core of the problem is the main industry structure has been designed to benefit asset managers and intermediaries, and not the beneficiaries and asset owners to same extent. As socio-economic conditions evolve, the mission of the investment management is re-aligning as well with an increased focus on collective return to all investors, and sustainable business growth.
The following issues should be viewed as priorities:

Business model augmentation with changes in the beneficiary designation
Push to lower fees to match decreased revenues
Higher risk tolerance is becoming more common as the search for higher yield requires more risk than most investors are comfortable with
Regulation emerges from supervision to transformation – Department of Labor fiduciary rules will push for lower fees and for further adoption of passives/ETFs, low-fee players, boosting large, etc.
Relationship matter – winning and retaining clients. Customer experience in the new world is about execution for marketing effectiveness, productivity increases and moving jobs to lower-cost locations.
For institutional managers the human touch is key. Presentation skills are more critical than ever, as the role of consultants increases too.
Improved client profiling, data analytics and operational flexibility will help serve more effectively the diverse client base.
Data-driven decision-making and highly skilled application of it, will help asset managers gain an advantage in an increasingly complex market.
Relationships with Consultants with the advance of solution-based investment products, are becoming more vital. The need for up-to-date investment knowledge on behalf of the consultancy, will also affect the performance of the portfolio management team, they collaborate with.

For Further Reading

Asset Management 2020: A Brave New World
Investment Management Outlook 2017
The $64 trillion question: Convergence in asset management

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.

Connect with other Consulting Buyer to step up your game

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

Source Consultants

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

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

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

The Hottest Applications in AI

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Artificial Intelligence and its application is no longer a far-fetched future, but more and more an everyday reality. All kinds of technologies will adopt AI components and procedures and various industries will experience its tremendous impact.
Greater efficiency in all types of sectors, unbridled creativity, reduced human error, much higher productivity are some of the key contributions AI will inevitably deliver.
The main areas of application of AI include:
1. More Effective Decision Management
AI systems operate on rules and logic. They are especially suitable in a wide variety of enterprise applications, assisting in or performing automated decision-making. Some of the  vendors in that area are Advanced Systems Concepts, Informatica, Maana, and Pegasystems.
2. Biometrics – The Interaction of Machines and Humans
Biometrics is still in its early stages, but it has a solid future ahead. Mainly there is a lot of improvement to be made in how people and machines interact. That includes imaging, touch recognition, speech recognition, and reading body language. Some of the companies developing the applications currently are Affectiva, Agnitio, FaceFirst, Sensory and Tahzoo.
3. NLP: Natural language processing (NLP) and Text Analytics
Facilitating the understanding of a sentence structure, meaning, emotion, and intent via statistical and machine learning methods is currently under development. The areas that will benefit the most are fraud detection and security, automated assistants, and mining unstructured data. Companies working in that field currently are Basis Technology, Coveo, Expert System, Indico, Knime, Lexalytics, Linguamatics, Mindbreeze, Sinequa, Stratifyd, and Synapsify.
4. Deep Learning Platforms – Artificial neural networks with multiple abstraction layers
Currently primarily used in pattern recognition and classification applications supported by very large data sets. Ersatz Labs, MathWorks, Peltarion, Saffron Technology, and Sentient Technologies are currently developing applications.
5. Robotic Process Automation
The task here is how to automate human action using scripts to support efficiently business processes. Currently these applications are used where it’s too expensive or inefficient for humans to execute a task. Main vendors in that field include: Advanced Systems Concepts, Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism, UiPath, and WorkFusion.
Despite the many business benefits AI technologies can deliver, there are certainly obstacles to AI adoption. Some companies and industries are reluctant to invest or are just not very interested in AI. These are sectors and jobs where machines will not be able to replace humans as easily.

Consulting Playbook: How a Merger Achieved Synergy in the Product Development Process

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The Consulting Playbook, Edition #11
One of the leading Aerospace and Defense companies undertook a major transformation when a merger of several companies took place. To ensure the successful integration, the Head of Integration needed help. The main priorities of the company were secure: Integration of the overall organization, Increase Corporate Performance, and Enable efficiency and collaboration on all levels.
To speed up and facilitate the process, they requested external support in the definition and application of a new Product Development Process reference that would allow a proper alignment on through a backbone process of the company.
A 3-Step Approach to Deliver the Desired Results
The Consultant focused their efforts on building a collaborative environment and helping all parties understand the process with the application of stage gates and dedicated development phases.
A Multi-Step Approach was applied to achieve the desired objectives:

Definition of the development timeframe, with specific sequence in stage gates
Synchronization of the development, design and delivery of key components and systems
Implementation of collaborative approaches to manage concurrent development, product lifecycle and interdependencies.
Review the main criteria to determine each stage gate adjustments to the sub-processes to achieve the expected performance (lead time, reliability, etc.) through multiple sub-projects involving experts of all legacy companies.

This new approach was implemented on the new strategic project from the company embarking employees from all legacy companies in the journey.
Beneficial Impact of the Consultancy, Following the Merger
The successful completion of the project, to the client’s satisfaction, achieved the following:

The new Product Development Process accomplished reduction of development lead times, more effective and realistic expectations, better collaboration of various teams
Improved planning and management of development programs in collaboration with functions
An overall cost reduction of 20% vs. previous similar projects.

Additional Information

New Product Development in 4 Simple Stages
Companies and entrepreneurs often feel the need to introduce new products. And depending on the industry you are in; the process might be less or quite complex. But without new products, extension line of existing products and innovation, it is tough to stay competitive, relevant and profitable in the long run. As technology constantly evolves, so are customers’ needs.
Let’s look at a typical new product development stages and what is the most efficient way to proceed with new product idea.

Generation and Evaluation of Product Ideas

To greenlight an idea, it’s best to have a few brainstorm sessions with your team, and the people whose decisions and opinions matter, decide on the best idea, then go to the next stage. Your new product ideas can come from a variety of sources such as: your employees, your boss, competitors, and even customers. Evaluate carefully the pros and cons of each idea, and then decide on the feasibility of pursuing it. It’s estimated that a third of new product ideas originate from users and customers. At this initial stage, often a niche market research is required, to get a deeper understanding of the potential of the new product idea.

Testing

The journey of the great new idea to the market, continues with development of a Product concept. Once you have this ready, you can test the sample with consumers and team members, capture their reactions and make further adjustments as necessary. After the testing is completed and the product features finalized, the new product can scale up into production.

Customized Marketing Strategy

Even the greatest product can fail without a well-planned marketing strategy and sufficient support to promote it. The marketing strategy typically will consist of: identification of the target market and demographics, branding and positioning, sales and market share projections for the first one or two years. It’s essential to also identify the main distribution channels, pricing, marketing budget, and profit goals.

Mass production and Commercialization of the New product

With the marketing strategy set, and the Business analysis completed, the Management team will decide on the next and final stage – commercialization of the new product. The cost of manufacturing, marketing and advertising of a new product, can be quite high, so the Management should consider all the factors like timing, region, logistics, important events, etc, for the official launch and initial distribution of the new product.
Since for many companies, time is of the essence, a new and more flexible approach is being introduced: close collaboration and simultaneous development of the new product by the parties involved, to complete it and launch sooner.
Saving time and money is always a winning proposition to businesses and customers alike when developing new products.
 
For Further Reading:

This is how Apple’s top secret product development process works
Eight Simple Steps for New Product Development
8 Step Process Perfects New Product Development

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.

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

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

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

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

Optimize your Consulting Spend

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

Read More

Defining where you want to go next –

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

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

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

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

Basic or Operational Level –

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

Standard Level –

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

Leading Level –

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

Best-in-Class –

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

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

The following questions can get you started:

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

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

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

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