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Self-Diagnostic to Improve the Management of Your Consulting Spend

Do you currently employ consultants on a regular basis? Perhaps you consider consultants a negligible part of your budget and overall business strategy—there for small, niche projects when you need them and gone as soon as that business is concluded. However, from our experience, consulting spend can represent millions of dollars for companies, and if not properly managed (or managed at all), you’ll miss out on the strategic opportunities a consultant can provide.

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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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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.

A new way to look at top consulting firms?

Attention executives: if you are considering outsourcing a project to a consulting firm, whether or not you have hired consultants before, we have great news—there’s a new way to view the value of the right consultant.
Did you know that executives who pay close attention, beginning with the procurement of the consultant through the completion of the project (including debriefing and follow-up), have a bonus waiting for them? It is that partnering with the right top consulting firm on a project offers unexpected key business lessons.
First, let’s look at what we mean by a “top consulting firm.”
You have heard the saying, “you can’t eat prestige.” Prestige has its place, but let’s face it: you can procure high-quality consulting services at a cost that fits into the budget of any enterprise. Creating a company budget crisis by opting for a global-brand consultant simply makes no practical sense. That consulting firm may offer one solution while putting a large enough dent in your budget, so that other projects suffer.
So where does that leave your consulting procurement? Actually in a better place! Here’s why.
A top consulting firm is one that has the skills and experience to meet your current project needs as well as complement your company’s culture and budget. The right firm may be a smaller boutique firm that specializes in just the type of project you have at hand, or a larger firm with the sub-specialty that you seek.
A top firm, then, has a track record of being in the right place for the right project, solid working relationships, flexibility, adaptable solutions, and great follow-up.
Happily, this leads us directly to lesson number one.

Source Consultants

Optimizing indirect costs is an evergreen topic. Many companies have already regrouped their indirect procurement to better manage expenses.

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Balancing resources.
You have made the decision to pivot to a consultant as a way to solve a problem and, at the same time, manage your overhead. Why then jeopardize that balancing act with a consultant out of your price range?
Instead, opt for a consulting services advisor with a depth of experience in matching enterprises with high-quality consulting services at the right price point. As an added bonus, your procurement team will save time, since a highly efficient advisor will have accessed, reviewed, and rated a broad range of consulting services for you in advance.
Implied in balancing resources, of course, is the idea of adequate resources. Before you choose a consultant, prepare thoroughly the scoping and the phasing of the project, and the necessary associated resources. You may realize that you don’t need the same resources for the different phases, and thus, decide to buy the phases separately. When you have chosen a consulting team, observe it during both the planning phase and the implementation phase of the project with a focus on balancing resources.
The planning phase is a strategic mapping session that identifies objectives, stakeholders, participants, and steps to success. Negotiating what constitutes adequate project resources (beyond procuring the consultant) is a key part of this phase.

Balancing resources in this phase often means applying some creativity in optimizing internal company resources at hand. Let’s say the consultant suggests that a person with a specific skill is needed for the project. Is there a person elsewhere in your company who has the right skill, perhaps from a prior workplace or career, and who is able to participate?
Now for implementation. Notice how the consulting team balances the utilization of people available to them on the project—and also within their own consulting team. That’s an example of project team leadership which manages to avoid burnout and staff turnover while getting the job done on time and within (a balanced) budget.
Notice, too, how the consultant encourages your team to share and conserve resources, and to be creative to resolve resource issues.
Marrying current knowledge plus experience
Lesson number two is about the value of taking a range of experiences and marrying them to the latest knowledge in the field.
Experience alone does not always optimize results. Do you want your child to be taught by a teacher who has taught for twenty years and who has “always done it this way”? Better to have a teacher with half the experience who stays current with the latest field-test results on pedagogical approaches.
Top consulting firms tend to have systems in place to ensure that team members share both knowledge and experiences.

They actively access—or contribute to—emerging thought leadership.

They debrief past projects internally (maintaining client confidentiality) to cull lessons.

Then they connect the dots from those experiences and ideas to your project.

Watch how your consultant draws on both her experience and her access to current intelligence in the field to fashion a solution that fits your needs perfectly. It looks something like this:
At a specific crossroad in the project, the consultant might say, Oh yes, I’ve seen this issue before. Company A handled it this way last year, but I just read where Company B solved it in a much more integrated way which would work well here, too.
Other examples will emerge as you debrief your consultant. It’s all about retaining knowledge, sharing it, and then connecting the dots to apply it appropriately.
Now it’s your turn: what is your takeaway lesson on marrying current knowledge and experience, and how will you apply that lesson across your enterprise?
The unforeseen significance of debriefing
Stifle that yawn.
Debriefing a project with a top consultant sometimes yields unforeseen golden nuggets if you know how to uncover them. For example:

Working on the project may have revealed talents among your employees that you had not been aware they possessed. Perhaps an employee’s leadership skills emerged.

Maybe a new way to reach potential customers or interface with current customers bubbled to the surface. How do you get that information to the marketing and sales teams?

Possibly the data provided to the project team also revealed tangential information that may be helpful to your company in another arena.

There is a simple way to ensure your access to these golden nuggets: insert into the consulting contract a paragraph requesting that the consultant document these types of data, even though they may be ancillary to the goals of the consulting project, and highlight them in her debriefing.
Working with a top consultant is an efficient way to meet your company’s current needs but it can offer a much richer value for the observant executive: new ways to think about balancing resources, marrying experience and ideas, and identifying new information during debriefings which, although ancillary to the specific project completed, may be significant to the company as a whole.
We now have reached bonus lesson number four:
Procuring the right consultant matters in more ways than it seemed before.
Competition among consulting teams currently is tighter than ever, but Consulting Quest has braved those choppy waters and stands ready to identify the perfect fit for your project and your company.

How to enjoy the value creation process

Welcome Professionals…
…as a top management consultant, we all want to create perfect results for our clients. But striving for perfectionism can actually constrain our value creation process.
For a long time in consulting business, I concentrated on achieving perfect results. At my former employer, we were especially great at pointing the attention to areas that were not perfect, yet. Each time when my project leader or partner or eventually the client found some flaws in my work, I used to beat myself up for that. I interpreted every necessary additional iteration loop as a defeat. I was striving for perfectionism.
Years later I was able to discover the drivers behind this behaviour and change my point of view. I recognized that it makes me very unhappy over time to strive for the perfect end product. The end product will never be perfect and if it was, I would already be busy with the next big thing. By having this tendency, it would be impossible for me to stop working and feel satisfied about it.
Today my motivation is different. I commit to delivering the best value I can in a given amount of time. I set time slots for me to work on a specific project and then do the best I can. I embrace opportunities for iteration, because it helps me improve my work. As an additional positive effect, it takes my client on a journey through my value creation process. Communicating intermediate steps and results makes my client value the work much more.
Everyday I try hard to concentrate on the value creation process! I am not attempting to create a perfect end product, but to give my best. Hopefully, that comes close in the end.

Safari in Consulting #1: CAUSA Consulting

Company Background
CAUSA is a small management consultancy specialized in strategic consultancy, sales enablement and communication. with offices in Berlin, Brussels and Wiesbaden, the company has extensive experience working with clients in commerce and politics on a European scale as well as on an international basis.

The company’s activities focused on innovative growth strategies and their analytical, structure and communication-oriented aspects. Having an international network with consultants in Brussels, Copenhagen and Washington D.C., as well as other partner organizations guarantees qualified support on the spot and an on-going exchange of experience.
The staffs have many years of experience in the public sector, as well as knowledge and competence acquired in private enterprise. The company’s clients include international and export-oriented SMEs, public institutions and listed companies.

Interview with Dr. Schössler, Managing Partner, Co-Founder

With decades of experiences working in both the public and the private sector, I developed the expertise in commercial, industrial and political consultancy. I founded CAUSA to better assist both sides with their growth and development initiatives.

Dr. Martin Schössler
CEO of Managing Partner, Co-Founder

Why did you found CAUSA and what were you driven by?

While working for The Economist Intelligence Unit (Martin was responsible for the Government and Financial Sector in Germany) I noticed that many clients wanted to go “beyond thought leadership” and not solely rely on whitepapers and studies. I was driven by the interest to establish a novel, hybrid business model in between the private and public sector where strategy consulting and outreach measures can be brought to the full effect for our clients. We also followed the request of our first client, SAP, to help them position one of their products for the public sector.

How does the company keep its niche positioning in the market and continuously generate values?

We need to constantly innovate. Over the years we have continuously progressed in our portfolio which includes now also digital assets and brand / platform development (for example https://www.luftfahrtistinnovation.de/ ) and we have also been of course challenged in a positive way by our clients which have quite complex tasks at hand, operate in a global context and need to keep track with the digital transformation. Very often, for instance when we won our first mandate from a top global Chinese IT company, we had to very quickly deliver results while still getting to know the finer cultural aspects which are quite important when you work so closely together. We spend a lot of time looking for the right people for our organization and we have started to focus more on C-level assignments and larger transformative projects where we support our clients for several years, including sparring and coaching elements.

What is the top piece of insight you have for the Safari in consulting readers -many of them are executives of companies and consultancies?

The business impact of government is often overlooked, yet the second most impactful element when it comes to business success. Executives should spend more time with government representatives and vice versa, the cultural divide is surprisingly large and growing due to the ongoing specialization in both sectors. The public sector is also a much more interesting and rewarding client when it comes to services and products that can be offered from the private sector in contrast to the public image. It is also able to provide an excellent context to large-scale implementation of new services and platforms, especially in IT which at this scale is simply not possible in the private sector. So at first i would suggest raising the level of interaction with public sector and government representatives, and second increase the effort to sell to the public sector – the reward will be substantial and also the learning when it comes to societal and foreign policy and security policy issues.

How do you see the future of CAUSA? What hopes/expectations do you have for the company?

We will further expand our portfolio to establish our own platform where we can deliver much improved law impact prognosis for our clients, organized in agenda streams, like automotive etc. This will be a separate business that we will launch in 2018, so we are happy to welcome the first beta testers from early summer. My aim is also to add more skilled partners at the company and expand our business to add mandates in the SME space. We will also expand our sales enablement platform where we have generated substantial new mandates which we will be able to announce in April.

Lastly, what advice do you have for students who are hoping to launch a career in Consulting?

Try to establish your own business before joining a larger firm or work / serve in a versatile field like government or even sports or the military. Also, in your studies, don´t stop at the Bachelor level and do a maximum of two – but meaningful – internships. Try to publish your ideas on how to improve specific items of public interest and engage in political debates early on to get an impression of the full societal spectrum. Also, everything you ever thought about as a kid is now possible as a job ,-)

For more information about the company, visit http://www.causa-c.de.
Are you a niche consulting firm that would like to be featured? Or do you know any interesting consulting firms we should reach out to? Let us know! Contact us at: info@consultingquest.com
For more specialist consulting firms, you can check out our Global Directory –with over 3000+ consulting firms around the world.

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The African Market Structure is still driven by the large Companies

Welcome to the fourth issue of our Blog Series -“Exploring the African Consulting Industry”. In this series, you will learn “everything-you-need-to-know” about the African Consulting market through a set of fun infographics. In the previous issue, we discussed that the Top Three Capabilities in the African consulting market are Strategy, Human Capital and Operations. The total number of capabilities covered on average is 2.5 and almost a quarter of the consulting firms is specialized in only one capability.
In this issue, we will take a look at the top Consulting industries the region and how they compare to those on a global scale.

The Industries
According to Consulting Quest’s research and data from the Global Directory, the Top Three Industries of the African Consulting market are 1) Financial Services; 2) Health & Life Sciences and 3) Energy & Environment. Interestingly, the consulting offering does not reflect the local needs, which are primarily rooted in Agriculture, Natural Resources and  Financial Services.
In addition, over 14% of the consulting firms in Africa are specialized in one industry, yet the total industries covered on average is 6.3. This finding is congruent with our previous observation that large global Consulting Firms are over-represented in the region compared to the rest of the world.
This post concludes our series on the African consulting market. In the next series, we will shift our focus to the Consulting market in Asia-Pacific and explore the unique consulting offering there. Stay tuned!

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Consulting Quest Global Directory

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

The African Consulting Market is focused on Strategy and Human Capital

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

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

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Consulting Quest Global Directory

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

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A Foolproof Guide to be sure to Ruin Your Proposals

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

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

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

Grow your Consultancy

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

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

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

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

Consulting Playbook: Startup Capital Secured in Partnership with Chinese Party

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

Additional Information

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

All Proposals and Agreements Must be In Writing –

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

Business Card Exchange –

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

Importance of Relationships –

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

Never Make a Chinese Person Lose Face –

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

Respect Rank and Hierarchy –

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

Friendliness and After-Work Socializing –

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

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

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For their Employees

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

Additional Information

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

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.

Define the pricing for your Consulting Services using Perceived value

The power of perceived value is a fascinating thing. And how one uses perceived value can be significant.
Even recent scientific research agrees. In an essay for Forbes about behavioral economics, Mukul Patki asks the following question: “Are you more likely to admire a $5 bottle of wine, if I lied to you and told you that it costs $45?“
The answer, according to behavioral economic studies, is a resounding yes.
The reasons why this happens actually holds some fascinating lessons for business consultants. Besides having excellent analytical skills, as well as honed sales techniques for pitching ideas and proposals, a business consultant who has an understanding of perceived value and the science behind irrational value assessment can gain an edge.
We know this because we match up consultants with the companies who needs their particular skill sets. We know how hard it is for consultants to rely on networking to get by, and what it takes for a consultant to become a company’s preferred consultant. And we have the data and science to explain it.
The Power Of Perceived Value
Let’s look a little closer at the science behind perceived value. Although the following three examples—the wine-club experiment, the puzzle-solving experiment, and the growth-hacking example—lie outside of the business-consulting domain, they demonstrate powerful principles that consultants can use.
Researchers invited the Stanford Wine Club to taste a few bottles of wine. The bottles had no identifying labels on them other than price tags. One bottle was labeled with a $5 price tag. Another bottle was labeled with a $45 price tag. But this was the catch: the $45 price tag was a lie. The high-priced wine was no different from the $5 bottle.
The results were telling: the wine club rated the $45 bottle higher and the $5 bottle lower.
But the Stanford Wine Club were not being elitists. They really did enjoy the wine with the $45 label more, even though it was the same cheap wine in disguise. When the experiment was done again under an MRI machine, researchers found activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain that showed that they really did experience greater pleasure when they drank the wine marked with a higher price.

The implications here are profound. Higher prices actually change the way our body experiences a product. The brain responds to a higher perceived value with a stronger release of dopamine.
But that’s just the beginning.
Can Higher Perceived Value Improve Problem-Solving Skills? Yes, It Can.
In another experiment that Patki references, researchers had students complete as many puzzles as they could in a set time. But beforehand, the researchers had the students purchase energy drinks with high levels of caffeine and sugar to improve their alertness during the puzzle test.
Here was the catch: half of the students had to pay full price, but the other half was given a huge discount. The results? The discount group solved fewer puzzles. In fact, their success rate was 30 percent lower than the group that paid full price.
The higher perceived value of the energy drink improved their alertness and focus.
Learning About Value Proposition From Growth Hackers
Behavioral economics and irrational value assessment can be, as Patki wrote, “the key to developing winning value propositions.”

Launch your Consultancy

Starting your consulting business will not be easy, but it will almost certainly be exciting and fulfilling.

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Startup companies, in this case, provide a useful example. In Ryan Holiday’s monumental book on growth hacking, he used DropBox as the classic example. DropBox created an invitation-only waiting list for early adopters. Rumors about the waiting list spread, and a sense of exclusivity swarmed around the new app. The waiting list exploded to 75,000 names, and when the app was released, it was a huge success.
Building perceived value, whether or not anyone knew anything about Dropbox, sent their value proposition sky-high. It strengthened their promise of value that they would deliver to their clients, and it created a strong belief within the clients that the promised value would be delivered.
What Business Consultants Can Learn From Perceived-Value Principles
Although the example above involves startup company tactics, the general principle is the same for consultants: use the power of social proof and exclusivity—while retaining courteous professionalism—to help companies see your value. The psychology behind it has been proven: when a person is asked to work a little extra or pay higher to get something, their belief in the value of that person or idea increases.
But the reverse is also true and by underpricing for the value you deliver you may impact negatively the way you are perceived and drive yourself out of the race you thought you would win through a large discount.
In the context of business consulting, it is a subtle art. You should always be easy to work with—as we explain in our blog post The 10 Commandments of a Great Consultant—but you should also be careful that you’re not diminishing your perceived value. Make conscious and strategic efforts to increase it when you can do it in a reasonable way.
Apply to yourself some simple principles to align your pricing and the value you deliver, keeping a detailed database filled with information from evaluation and feedback can be of priceless value and will help you to continuously improve.
And no matter what kind of strategy you employ on the ground level, the broader lesson here is simple: do not neglect the incredible power of irrational value assessment, and use it as a complement to your carefully honed analytical and sales skills.

Consulting Playbook: Establishing New Organization to Meet Globalization’s New Challenges

The Consulting Playbook, Edition #20
A major Automotive company aspired to become a global organization. Their ambitious goal required several trade-offs to expand internationally. The company needed to develop a new Program function covering strategic resources allocation and building a connection with all the other existing functions such as product development, engineering, manufacturing, purchasing and marketing/sales. Besides, a new organization had to be set up with business units – zones in the international markets. This was a drastic change for the company and they decided to get some external support.
The Consultant’s Approach Centered on Facilitation
A team of three main Executives developed the business principles of the new organization, progressively building the new organizational structure, operating model and appointing the new management.
The set-up of the newly defined program function was quite challenging as former program entity was mostly in charge of synchronizing milestones without clear levers. The new scheme, inspired from the aerospace industry was giving the accountability to the programs on product plan, development budgets, resources allocation, major trade-off decisions and off-course planning. Resources were distributed across programs and functions depending on their level of dedication to the programs.
The creation of the regional business units in charge of marketing, sales and services in their region was also a massive shift considering that all those activities were previously organized by function. The newly created structures would have P&L accountability for their region but also the necessary levers to deliver. The overall consistency on the brand, policies and practices would be ensured through the implementation of small but powerful corporate functions. Regions would express regional customization needs to the programs to make sure products would answer the regional specificities.
The consultant  facilitated the migration of budgets, headcounts, transfer of accountabilities with a specific focus on the continuation of major projects.
At the project’s completion, few major achievements were made:

The launch and start of the new organization was successfully completed.
Cost reduction (opex and capex) of 15% realized, by improving allocation of strategic resources carefully managing tradeoffs but also streamlining the organizational structure
Acceleration in development of customized regional products that addressed local markets needs

Additional Information

4 Major Trends in the Automotive Industry That Will Impact the Future
Despite that the Automotive Industry has enjoyed a solid rise in demand, there are few potential risks that can hinder the growth, and will have a cooling effect.
Among these risks factors are slowing global economy, fluctuations in interest rates, and changes in future demand.
Exciting new technologies are impacting the Automotive industry today, from electric cars, to self-driving vehicles, and a multiple mobile apps changing how drivers and passengers interact. But beside the exciting things, some serious concerns have emerged too.

Production

After the recession and the subsequent growth in demand, manufacturers have expanded facilities to cope with higher demand, they invested in new facilities and ramped up production capacity. But all this can become problematic when the demand starts declining. And scheduling issues might become a serious problem for suppliers who are doing their best to optimize work schedules, delivery, and use flexible sourcing options, and selection of manufactures.

Consumer Demand Trends

Right now, older baby boomers represent the biggest segment of car sales, and this pattern likely won’t change. Millennials on the other hand, are less interested in car ownership and prefer other transportation options. The popular ride-sharing apps are changing consumers’ behavior. Auto suppliers are starting to worry how they are going to grow sales when the demand starts declining soon.

Global Expansion

Approximately a third of North American automotive parts are manufactured in Mexico, and many US suppliers have facilities there or a planning to establish ones. However with the new administration in Washington commencing early next year, we can’t be sure about  the future developments at the present moment.

Workforce Shortage

With the creation of many new jobs, and the ever-increasing sophistication in machinery, suppliers face difficulty in staffing. There is simply not enough skilled labor in the industry. Attracting and retaining skilled labor means offering enough incentive, effective salary and benefits packages to secure workforce commitment. Many manufacturers are also working on training and internship programs, in partnership with colleges, to facilitate new talent education and career choices.
For Further Reading –

THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE AUTOMOBILE 2016
2016 Auto Industry Trends
Eight disruptive trends shaping the auto industry of 2030
KPMG’s Global Automotive Executive Survey 2016

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.

Activate the right levers to meet your financial targets

You made your resolutions for 2018 on REBITDA and Cash, but here’s Q2 and your leadership team is starting to look at their mid-year commitments with furrowed brow. It might feel like déjà vu but the fact is they’re approaching the task with a limited set of tools. Sure, focus on innovation and increasing your customer base, and address short-term targets with new value sources that won’t compromise on the future. At the same time, you can use a few more levers in your tool belt, such as these ideas to get back on track to meet target:

Manage your Consulting Spend

Procuring consulting services is quite different from procuring goods. Consulting is a complex industry often described as a matrix of capabilities and industries.

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Buy Better on Direct Costs
When you optimize procurement costs, you have a fast lever to impact your PNL and Cash lines. Evaluate supply and demand on each category and break down the spend by SKUs. Identify some quick wins and assess your bargaining power. Choose the negotiations you’re confident in winning. There must be a few that were not on your plate already

Renegotiate contracts based on the supply and demand balance and market volatility (when your supply is greater than the demand, you don’t necessarily want to lock yourself in with a long-term contract unless you get extremely competitive conditions).
Renegotiate the tail spend – those contracts you almost never renegotiate.
Bring in second-source suppliers to reduce your risk, increase your bargaining power, and keep your incumbent reasonable.

Example: In the chemical industry, even long-term contracts often include a “meet or release” clause that allows a company to use different suppliers if the offer isn’t competitive. Time to check and see how competitive that old contract is today.
Leverage Pricing
Pricing is usually your second-fastest lever. Simple math shows pricing is often the biggest profit driver in the Price-Cost-Volume equation. If you have to choose one of these three, go for pricing whenever you can as long as you’ve got low margins. With high margins, go for volume.

Differentiated Products: You’ve got the bargaining power – assess the willingness to pay to capture the value you bring to your customers without pushing them to find alternatives or alienating them.
Commodities: Depending on supply and demand, your bargaining power can evolve considerably – and pricing must follow. Devise a smart price-volume pricing strategy and you can maximize your profits while optimizing your assets at the same time.
Services: Are you pricing for the level of service you provide? Do you have advanced inventory? 24/7 reactivity and customer support? Auto-refill leveraging the internet of things? Teams on site supporting the operations? …. maybe there are services you could monetize by implementing a differentiated service offering.

For example, you can create a simple chart to analyze the level of unit margin and yearly volumes of each product-customer couple. This will help you identify outliers benefiting from much better conditions than other customers for historical reasons. Those customers are good candidates for a price or volume adjustment.
Buy Better on Indirect Costs
Optimizing indirect costs is an evergreen topic. Many companies have already regrouped their indirect procurement to better manage expenses. Typical levers are:

Regroup and manage decentralized expenses such as insurance, travel, consulting as a category
Freeze external expenses for items that can be delayed or produced in-house.
Implement more stringent validation rules for travel to ensure you leverage all of those conferencing and video conferencing tools you already own.
Bring in niche experts to optimize overlooked categories like office supplies, printer leases, car rentals, etc.

Here’s a great example: Recently while meeting with a large bank with almost $200M in consulting expenses per year, we learned that Procurement wasn’t involved in their purchasing process. Imagine for a moment what that would mean. How much difference would it make in terms of regrouping expenses, strategizing the procurement, and negotiating with the different providers in competition for key projects? Just a 20% savings could represent 0.2% directly on gross margin. That’s $40M to this company. Are you interested in saving $40M? Most companies would say yes.
Play on Cash
Is cash king? Of course it is. Cash is also fuel – without it your company can only go so far. Here are tips for handling your cash better:

Delay payments for big investments – CAPEX first.
Delay hiring for a few months. This can make a big difference in your year.
Play on payment terms with your supplies. This means renegotiating longer payment terms or supplier financing programs with banks.
Chase down customer payments. You might even pull in a company that specializes in recovering aged receivables.

A perfect example: Following the pressure from retailers, CPG Companies negotiate longer payment terms with their suppliers every year. One fragrance company saw its working capital shoot through the roof, increasing by more than 30% by doing this. The next logical step was to negotiate the same conditions with their own suppliers but it took them two years to react.
Optimize Assets
Traditionally, companies apply the principle of Economics of Scale (produce more for new markets and give discounts for additional marginal volumes), and Scope (diversify your assets’ production and markets) to optimize their assets and generate efficiencies. Take moment to look outside the box and beyond your own back door. Some strategic partnerships can prove to be extremely interesting:

Optimize your asset utilization by partnering with companies that are evolving in the same market. Propose more competitive costs than their own (economies of scale with a competitor).
Develop common platforms on non-strategic parts to reduce your engineering costs and those of your suppliers.
Optimize your asset utilization by partnering with companies that are evolving into different markets (economies of scope with another company)

For example, a defense company partnered with an automotive company to fill up their production pipeline during low-activity periods. By producing parts for the automotive company, the defense company covered their fixed costs. This helped the automotive company increase production without investing in new assets. They also benefited from higher-quality work since defense quality management is extremely rigorous. Nor did they have to share their opportunities and knowledge with potential competitors.
Get Back on Track
Whether you want to recover from a low first quarter or create a buffer for future headwinds, there are some excellent levers here for you to activate. Remember that time is of the essence – don’t hold off on action until Q3 rolls around. To maximize the impact on the current year, dedicate internal resources now and considering bringing in external resources or consultants.

10 Hottest Productivity Apps

We all love apps that can help us be more organized, productive and enjoy some extra free time. But from the hundreds and thousands of free and paid apps that hit the market every month, it’s hard to choose sometimes.
Whether you prefer a simple or more complicated app, here is our List of the best apps that you should give a try.
#1 – Timetracker
Time is our most valuable asset and a lot of it, we spend online. With this app, when you login on any website, you will know how much time you’ve spend.
#2 – Momentum
There is power and momentum buildup when you focus all your attention on one single task. This app takes care of that by asking you what your main focus is. And every time you open up a new tab, the app reminds you to stay on track. It replaces the browser tab that is there by default, and forces you to focus.

#3 – Google Keep
Available and accessible on your phone or your laptop with your Google account. It’s a great way to store notes or voice memos. What’s also great about it is that your files are stored online so if you lose your phone or computer, files are safe. It’s accessible anywhere with Internet access. The fun part is you can color the notes, share them, and get them organized nicely.
#4 – 2 Harvest
Another great app centered on how you spend your time. You can set a timer for each activity you do and label what you are doing. At the end of the day, you can see how long you spend on each activity and adjust as necessary. The app can sync with other productivity apps like Asana.
#5 – Forest
A fancy way to make you stay focused and productive. When you start the timer, you will see a tree growing from a seed. Your goal is to focus on one task for 25 minutes until the tree is fully grown. It’s customizable so that you can change the 25 minutes to whatever you want.
#6 – Ad Blocker Plus
As the name suggests, this free extension blocks all the pesky ads online and in video. Very handy to many people who dislike ads.

Grow your Consultancy

What is it that truly differentiates the commercial and delivery performance of consulting firms and that of the “big guys,” the large consulting firms?

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#7 – Pomodoro Timer
Really neat and simple tool! A very well-known productivity techniques is the Pomodoro, is about focusing on one task for 25 minutes and then take a forced 5-minute break. The breaks are customizable.
#8 – Buffer
Social media automation tools can be time-consuming and cost a lot too. But one exception is Buffer, simple and easy to use. You can schedule out a queue of posts and randomize the order of posting.
#9 – Pocket
For those who love reading articles, like this one, but never have the time to read all of them, Pocket can help a lot. It’s known as the app to brain dump the articles you want to read later and have them read out loud by to you a computer if you are that busy.
#10 – Do Nothing for 2 Minutes
All work and no break can be too much sometimes. This website is super simple, and helps you destress for a while. You can listen to free music of real waves. You can just relax and do absolutely nothing for two minutes. Then get back to whatever you were doing.
What did you think of this article? Are there any productivity apps that you are currently using that aren’t listed above? Please drop a line in the comments section below to add to the discussion.

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

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.

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