2016 Paris – Consulting Procurement 2.0 – Conference Summary

2016 Paris – Consulting Procurement 2.0 – Conference Summary

Consulting Quest hosted its first European Client Conference- Consulting Procurement 2.0, in Paris on November 17. Thank you to everyone who joined us in Paris, on a Péniche boat.

 

The event was very insightful thanks to a combination of both a great mix of attendees from companies like L’Oréal, SNCF, Solvay, consulting firms and professors, mostly French but some made the trip from the UK too; and some quality speakers who presented us with some valuable insights into their expertise.

 

There was a nice interaction between the audience and the speakers, on topics such as the evolution of consulting, how companies buy consulting today, the impact of the digital revolution and how we can better work with consultants.

 

The Impact of Digital Revolution

Everything is now moving online, all companies need their web portal, being able to do e-commerce, communicating online, and keeping in mind that the consumer is more and more active on the move from their smartphone.

 

The consulting firm organization needs to be agile, to adapt to rapid change, to work together, to fail fast so you can succeed sooner utilizing user feedback instead of intuition.

 

Emmanuelle Savarit, CEO of Analyse Concept, explained in detail the variety of roles in the Digital Capability which are more diverse than most imagine. She therefore questioned the ability of the Big 4 to be the best in each digital expertise.

 

Alain Alleaume, Founder and CEO of Altaris, illustrated those trends with the example of cloud computing, and particularly SaaS. Clients have higher expectations as they want consultants to be specialized in their profession giving them a legitimacy to find the best solutions and to support the client when entering the project phase.

 

Therefore, consultants need to adopt an agile methodology, be on constant market watch, understand the vendor market evolution, and bring a real added value, the best “value for money”.

Make or Buy Strategy

Most companies work to optimize their external spend and their pool of suppliers to better support the overall strategy. What are the key activities that can be outsourced?  What providers are appropriate for us?  Is it worth it to outsource a particular activity for the long term? The same questions apply to consulting procurement.

 

Pascal Lupo, President of SNCF Consulting, explained that the advantages of in-house consulting were that the consultant was aligned with the history, the culture of the company, it also has an indisputable confidentiality edge, and of course some economic interest.

 

On the other end, the increasing need for highly specialized consulting makes it far more difficult for buyers to have experienced the volume of consulting projects that would enable them to develop portfolios of reliable and high-performing consulting providers. By working with companies specialized in this field, those companies will be able to analyze their consulting spend, refresh their make or buy strategy, identify robust suppliers and areas where new blood is needed.

 

How Companies Buy Consulting?

William Frost, President of Strategy Analysis International, explained that over the years there has been a clear shift from a product- to a service-driven economy. Products are now only a minor part of any supplier’s offering. The service economy changes the old production paradigm where the supplier’s output is the key economic variable. In the service economy, you NEED a customer to produce. You cannot stock services. The customer thus becomes an integral part of your production process. You no longer supply anything: you co-produce with your customer. The supplier’s input becomes part of the added value of the customer’s own production process whereas the customer is now the supplier’s partner. The consultant as a service provider has also evolved, from supplier of some form of expertise (or forgettable reports) to partner, increasing their integration with the customer.

Consulting Quest Announces Launch of their Global Directory!

Consulting Quest Announces Launch of their Global Directory!

After much anticipation we are very excited to announce the arrival of our newest resource – The Consulting Quest Global Directory – the World’s Largest Active Database of Management Consulting Firms. The Directory will serve as a great tool for Consulting Clients to search for firms in their geographic region and providing general information for each Consultancy. The Directory also provides tremendous exposure for small to mid-sized Consultancies looking to expand their own network. The use and inclusion in the Directory is free of charge without commitment to any membership.  

The Directory currently boasts more than 2,000 Management Consulting Firms worldwide spanning more than 100+ Countries allowing to sort for firm by name directly or to search by region. If you would like to run a custom search via capability and industry experience for your business we are able to provide directly by e-mailing us at info@consultingquest.com.

For advanced research, we use our proprietary Consulting Navigator, an internal function of the website, which includes case studies and performance reviews allowing us to evaluate each firm’s specific experience and potential fit for future projects.  We use our Navigator every day to help our clients source the most qualified consultants in an efficient manner.

In addition to the listing of Consulting Providers, the Directory also features various links from all over the globe covering topics such as: Consulting Blogs, Consulting Industry, Consulting Career, and Thought Leadership.  The goal of Consulting Quest is to become the Go-To-Source for all your Consulting Needs whether it be general information, sourcing, performance assessment and improvement. 

If you would like to be listed in the Directory or need to update your firm’s information, please e-mail us at directory@consultingquest.net

Consulting Quest is a global, performance-driven consulting platform founded in 2014 by former members of Top 10 Consulting Firms with the objective of Reinventing Consultancy Performance. With a worldwide presence and a range of proprietary performance measurement tools, we help companies navigate the consulting maze. We work with Consulting Clients to increase their business performance through consulting and also with Consulting Providers to improve upon their performance and assist in new client acquisition.

Consulting Procurement 2.0 – 2016 NYC Conference

Consulting Procurement 2.0 – 2016 NYC Conference

Our First Annual Conference – Consulting Procurement 2.0 was a Success!  We want to thank all the attendees who were able to join us in NYC at the AMA Conference Center yesterday engaging in several high level, strategic discussions on topics such as the evolution of consulting, how companies buy consulting today, how can we better work with consultants, and what are the best practices we should share.  With past and current executives from companies like L’Oréal, Citigroup, PwC, Solvay, Dow Chemicals, Pearson, and Green Silk Associates there were many unique perspectives shaping a robust collaboration of ideas and fresh takeaways.  We want to thank Swapcard for co-sponsoring the event with us and elevating our networking efforts!  Some great connections were made and we are already looking forward to next year’s event!  Please contact us at Info@consultingquest.com to request more information for future events. 

6 reasons for connecting with peers as a Consulting Buyer

6 reasons for connecting with peers as a Consulting Buyer

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.

  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. 

  1. 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. 

  1. 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. 

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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?

About Consulting Quest and the consulting client conference: Consulting Procurement 2.0

We are leading the innovative changes in consulting procurement among industries. The conference we are organizing for consulting clients in July is designed to help professionals in need of consulting understand how to buy consulting in an efficient way for their company. Consulting Procurement 2.0: Getting More Out of Your Consulting in New York City on July 19th will give you these tools and more. Please contact us for registration packages and information.

The Procurement Process Doesn’t Stop With the Order

The Procurement Process Doesn’t Stop With the Order

When does procurement turn into a partnership? The easy answer is that as soon as the order is placed, procurement is over and done with. But in reality, the procurement process doesn’t stop with the order. To be successful, it should be a long-term process that goes beyond the moment the contract is signed.

Too many companies looking to work with consultants underestimate the complex procurement system. On the surface, it seems like a straightforward process that ends with the order. But consulting is not that straightforward; simply signing a contract and assuming everything will work out exactly as specified neglects the versatility of consulting, and intellectual services in general.

Ultimately, both sides hope to develop a mutually-beneficial professional relationship. Regarding procurement, as a long-term process improves communication, better aligns the scope of the relationship, and provides the necessary insights to achieve continuous improvement and productive partnership. Consider these 5 steps to a successful procurement process:

1) After the Proposal

Don’t disengage with consultants you did not select for mutual business. Instead, explain why you choose to go in a different direction, giving honest feedback about the strengths and weaknesses of their proposal and how it could have better aligned with your expectations.

For you, this step requires only a little effort. But for the consultants you didn’t select, you provide invaluable insights about your expectations, along with their ability to compete for proposals and opportunities like yours in the future.

Consultants who are willing to listen will be able to use these lessons to better compete for similar opportunities in the future. And who knows? Perhaps you will be in need of a consultant again in the future, so nurturing relationships with a range of consultants can be beneficial for both sides.

2) Change Management

No matter how hard you try, establishing and maintaining a relationship with consultants in executing a project will not be a linear process. During the course of the project, a number of changes will take place that you didn’t account for during the proposal or contract. Some of these changes may include:

  • Scope changes. New tasks may be added as a need becomes clear, or deliverables that turn out to be impossible or difficult to reach may be dropped.
  • Staffing changes. Organizations are in constant flux, and both sides may have to account for turnover that requires adjustment and additional training.
  • Timeline changes. Everything before the project starts is an estimate; you may have to adjust the pace as the true duration of the project comes into view.
  • Unforeseen events. Budget changes, project merges, project freezes, or any other events may occur that affect the execution of the project.

Change management is necessary to ensure that these changes do not derail the project. By keeping an active log of all changes as they occur, you can adjust the commercial conditions in due time and before they become dangerous.

3) Mid-Project Assessment

As early as possible, set yourself and your consultants a benchmark toward the middle of the project. This is the perfect time to review the initial objectives and get back on track toward accomplishing them on time.

As you get into the details of any project, it’s easy to get carried away with minutia that ultimately won’t affect the overall success. A Mid-Project Assessment enables you and your team to ensure that these inevitable tangents don’t endanger the timeline and success of the larger project.

The Mid-Project Assessment should be a major event for everyone involved. Keep it separate from regular operational project reviews, which should happen in smaller circles and on a regular basis.

4) Project Closure

Once the project has drawn to an end, it’s time for a thorough evaluation. Now it’s time to compare your end results with your initial goals, which enables you to understand and begin to prepare the adjustments that are still necessary to reach your ultimate goal.

At this time, you can also evaluate the relationship with your consultants, and whether they delivered on the initial promise. Evaluate your provider using dimensions such as commercial quality, delivery quality, posture, talent & expertise, and ROI as it relates to the project.

5) Mutual Continuous Improvement

Nobody is perfect, and no project or professional relationship will be flawless. The project closure is an opportunity for you to give feedback to your project suppliers about your thoughts on the results, relationship dynamic, and any other dimensions you covered in your project closure review above.

Giving feedback enables your consultants to improve their business by gaining a clearer understanding of client expectations and identifying potential blind spots. Constructive feedback will also uncover relationship difficulties that may be improved on a future partnership with you or other clients.

You can take advantage of the same intelligence because it better enables you to understand the consultant journey through your project. As a result, you will improve supplier competitiveness, and ultimately increase the potential for positive outcomes. Improving your procurement process, you will be able to contribute to intelligence gathering about the market and its segments.

Finally, you can benefit from feedback about the project as much as your consultant. Hearing from your partner about the relationship and its successes and failures allows you to uncover what you can do better in the future, ultimately helping you work your way toward better project implementation. Simply asking for feedback will position you as being committed to good practices, openness, and transparency.

At its core, consulting should be based on a mutually beneficial partnership. If you treat procurement as a linear process that ends the moment the contract ink is dry, you probably will have trouble getting the best possible results out of that partnership. But by treating the relationship as dynamic and flexible throughout the project, you and your consultants will both benefit and improve their business practices as a result.