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.