6-Levers to optimize your consulting ROI – what you should know before you start using them

The 6-Levers Podcast Series by Consulting Quest is aimed at helping consulting buyers derive maximum value from their consulting investment.

This series talks about the utilization of six levers as a holistic approach. The fourth episode of the series explains why procurement transformation is necessary to get the most value from consulting spending, and why it requires buy-in from business leaders and stakeholders. Tune in to know what more you should know before you start using 6 levers to optimize your consulting ROI.

Key Takeaways

Starting with basics, best-in-class procurement is central to optimizing consulting spend. Most companies don’t know what value best-in class procurement can bring, so they miss out on obvious opportunities for savings and impact.

To show business leaders the value of procurement, it must be pointed out where they lack in the process of procuring consulting services (i.e., one area at a time).

The right people with soft skills are needed in order to build trust between procurement and internal stakeholders (a prerequisite for making top management listen).


The consulting industry is vast and ever-changing.

All companies strive to optimize their consulting ROI. But what if the ROI is not satisfactory? In that case, business lines can consider starting to use our 6 levers approach. What are the 6 levers and how will it help consulting clients to optimize value from their consulting projects? To answer these questions and a many others, we started this podcast, “6 Levers to Optimize the ROI of Your Consulting Spend”. The 4th episode of this series discusses what you should know before you start using the 6 levers.

But before we dive into today’s topic, let’s give you a small recap of what we discussed in our previous 6-Lever series episodes.

In the previous episode, we shared few findings from our summer survey on consulting procurement maturity grid. This showed us that a lot of companies don’t get that desired value from their projects even after following best-in-class procurement practices.

We also discussed reasons why these companies don’t succeed in getting the desired ROI on their consulting spend.

The reason is that companies need to gain knowledge and understanding of the vast and ever-changing consulting market.

And the fact that procurement must be transformed to optimize the ROI and maximize the value of your consulting spends. The transformation will only be possible if top management is involved.

Now that you have the recap, let’s jump onto today’s topic, which is “6 Levers to optimize your consulting ROI – what you should know before you start using them.”

What Must You Know Before You Start Using These 6-Levers to Optimize Your Consulting ROI?

Best-in-class procurement is central to optimizing the value of consulting spend.

To start with the basics and if you’ve been a part of our podcast journey, you already know the importance of best-in-class procurement in optimizing the value of consulting spend.

Now, I won’t go into the basics of what a best-in-class procurement practices or companies are. But if you’re new to this channel, you can click on the info-card that would appear on the top right corner of the screen now to learn more about How to be a best-in-class company on our procurement maturity grid?

But don’t you worry, as a matter of fact, most companies don’t actually know what value a best-in-class procurement can bring to the table for the consulting category.

As a result, they don’t include procurement in the early stages of their consulting projects and hence they miss out on the obvious. That is why companies rarely aim to transform consulting procurement into a best-in-class practice.

Whereas the best-in-class procurement organizations are the ones who are getting the most out of their consulting spend. And they’re doing it in a way that’s not just focused on cost savings, but also on impact.

So, they’re looking at the whole organization and saying, “How can we have an impact that’s going to benefit the whole organization?”

I’m sure, almost all the companies think that way but when it comes to procurement, they just roll their eyes on it.

As a result, more often than not, procurement is relegated to a back-office function, when in reality it should be central to an organization’s strategy.

In today’s fast-paced, global economy, organizations must be nimble and adaptable to survive. To do this, they need to have the right mix of skills and capabilities across the entire organization, which includes procurement.

When you start focusing on procurement and actually involving them, it can be a powerful tool for organizational success and you can tap into new markets, drive innovation and gain a competitive edge.

However, it starts with acceptance from business leaders. Only then can organizations truly unlock the potential of procurement.

And I must tell you that there’s a whole world of untapped potential of procurement!

So, before you get too excited on how you can tap this immense potential of procurement, let me acknowledge why it is necessary for business leaders to first accept this organization-wide impact of procurement.

In the business of procuring consulting services, you know that one of the most important things you can do is show the benefit to stakeholders or business lines.

There’s no doubt that procurement has to show the benefit to stakeholders or business lines. After all, optimizing the value of consulting spend is critical for any company. But what if the ROI is not satisfactory?

Well, in that case, business lines can consider starting to use our 6 levers.

What These 6-Levers Are? A Quick Recap

Let me just remind you guys what these 6-levers are in brief before we proceed talking about them in detail from our next episode.

The first one being, investing in the right projects which tells us that you don’t need to just accept the first project that comes your way. You need to understand the value it brings to the companies as a whole. Because when you’re limited on budget, you need to consider what projects will have the highest impact for your organization.

Once you have the right projects, you need to figure out how to deliver. And this our second lever: select the right delivery model.

Even before you launch your project, your top objective should be to choose the best delivery approach. The conventional approach is make-or-buy strategy: should I rely on internal resources, use research firms, hire temp workforce or outsource to external consultants?

And to ensure that this process goes smoothly and does not affect your pockets, keeping your costs under control would appear a viable way to proceed further. So, our third lever is keeping your costs under control.

Consulting may represent a significant part of your indirect spend, but it is rarely managed professionally. They are often left decentralized and scattered. When managed properly, it can be an incredible source of savings.

However, the ROI is not only about costs. The other parts of ROI are value and impact. Here we go, the fourth lever: secure the impact.

The right consulting firm can make or break a project. And so can inept project management. Managing a consulting project does not mean leaving the reins to the consultants.

You want your projects to deliver impact whether it is advancing your strategy, tracking efficiencies, or capturing savings.

And in the same way that you could control the impact, managing and making the most of your suppliers is essential. And so our fifth lever relates to manage your suppliers.

In many organizations, consulting is bought directly by the end-users, and procurement arrives at best at the negotiation phase.

Procurement is often side-lined on administrative tasks such as contract management, purchase orders, and payments.

Businesses must ensure that the suppliers meet or exceed the buyer’s expectation in terms of quality, delivery and cost. But what we observe instead is poor supplier management which results in unreliable suppliers, disruptions, conflicts, unsatisfaction and lack of communication.

When you have all these levers checked, what you need is to make sure the change sticks. You need to make the change sustainable.

And that is our sixth lever, Making the transformation sustainable by improving your Consulting Sourcing capability (skills, process, technology).

At the end of the day, a transformation of your Consulting Procurement Capability is no different than any other transformational project. Without embarking on the people, particularly the most senior executives in your organization, the road will be extremely steep or slippery.

You won’t get the full benefits of the transformation if the change is not sustainable because a sustainable transformation starts from the top.

What does it involve, when it comes to showing the value of the project and the ROI companies get for their consulting spend?  It involves showing companies where they lack in the process of procuring consulting services for stakeholders or business lines. And we know that it is not easy to acknowledge that you are doing something wrong.

Of course, there is no perfect solution, but procurement can help point you in the right direction. After all they are the specialists at buying right?

The procurement simply starts by setting priorities. Where do you think you fail the most? Is it because you’ve no control over your cost? If that is the problem, you can start right there.

This brings us to the area where you can find your solution – you have to start by addressing one area at a time. Eventually, you will go everywhere, but with maintaining consistency and harmony among different dimensions.

But Before Starting to Use The 6 Levers, Remember That It Is Going to be a Long and Consistent Process.

Your organization and in particular the top management, must be willing to put some structure into the purchasing of consulting services, they need to accept that procurement should have a role to play and allow it to challenge their choices.

And in some organizations, it will take a bit of time. I’ll share an example of our most recent PGC podcast with Aslan Akyol, where he talks about the executives that don’t know what procurement does.

Indeed, it is not taught in schools. And they might think that buying services is the same as buying in a supermarket. Hint: it is not. So, first you need to clarify what value procurement can bring to the table.

Then there is often an emotional link between a consulting user and their consultants. And the only way to be allowed to challenge that link is to build the trust with the user. Procurement has to build relationships with internal stakeholders. That’s why procurement needs people with the right number of soft skills and relationship building habits.

Many young procurement professionals lack experience of handling people and build the trust with the business lines, which is a prerequisite for the procurement to actually make the top management listen to them. So, procurement must have the right people with the right support.

So basically, stakeholders and business lines in organizations need to understand the value of procurement and be willing to change their ways. In fact, companies have to be pro-active in bringing that change and be willing to create more impact and value. In other words, to manage consulting as an investment rather than a necessary support or cost center, procurement transformation needs to happen first.

And only then, you can start using 6 levers.

In Conclusion,

So, to conclude today’s topic, procurement transformation is at the core of capturing maximum value from your consulting spend and our six levers can help you achieve just that.

But before initiating that process, business leaders and stakeholders must understand and accept that the transformation of the procurement will have an impact on the entire organization and the company as a whole can benefit from what best-in-class procurement can offer.

For any change to take place, procurement needs the blessings of the top management and stakeholders. Ironically, they often do not care and this nonchalance only reflects the absence of synergy between business lines and procurement.

Changing this mind-set has to be the very first step if companies want to optimize their consulting ROI.

Next, they need to understand where they think their ROI is not adequate. This will give them a good starting point for exercising the 6-lever approach.

So if business lines should not hesitate to ask for help from the procurement team, who sure has got the right answer.

See you at the next episode. Till then, stay safe and stay connected with us through our community on LinkedIn and follow our Twitter handle @ConsQuest. Don’t forget to like and subscribe to our channels



Happy Sourcing!

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Helene Laffitte

Hélène Laffitte is the CEO of Consulting Quest, a Global Performance-Driven Consulting Platform. With a blend of experience in Procurement and Consulting, Hélène is passionate about helping Companies create more value through Consulting. To find out more, visit the blog or contact her directly.

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