Welcome back to Smart Consulting Sourcing, the only podcast about consulting procurement. I’m Helene, and in this series, “How to buy consulting services like a pro,” I’m here to share my expertise and help you navigate the complex world of consulting procurement. In today’s episode, we’ll discuss how to define the “consulting DNA” of the firm you need for your project. The right consulting firm can make all the difference in the success of your project, and understanding their unique strengths and capabilities is crucial to finding the perfect match.
Before we dive into today’s topic, let me give you the key takeaways from last week:
Construct an attractive, organized selection process for consulting firms that contains clearly-defined milestones. You need a systematic procedure that is not only clear but also captivating. Emphasize staying impartial and safeguarding confidentiality by executing Non-Disclosure Agreements and having members from different backgrounds in the screening panel. This ensures everyone involved that fairness and openness take precedence over all else.
Help your consultants build their winning proposals. Ask for project objectives, references on past projects, CVs of consultants, and thought leadership pieces in the field – and don’t forget details such as fees and workload! Ensure you have all the essential information needed to make an educated decision. It might seem like a lot to take in, but it’ll be worth it when you get the perfect proposal from your team!
To ensure your RFP process is efficient and successful, provide clear instructions for submitting questions and share responses with all participants. Indicate how you will pick a winner; this can be based on client feedback, skill set, comprehensive approach, and deliverables provided, as well as team composition that fits the needs of the project at hand. Additionally, don’t forget to ask for references while delivering them with point-of-contact details throughout the bidding procedure.
Now it’s time to start with today’s episode. Don’t worry if you need help to catch up; we’ve got your back. All of our episodes can be found on Spotify, iTunes, or YouTube for easy listening, and the full transcripts are available in our Thought Leadership section at consultingquest.com if you’d prefer to read along!
Decoding the Consulting DNA: How to Define the Profile of Your Ideal Consulting Provider
In today’s episode, we’ve covered all the ingredients you need to cook up a successful consulting project. Have you ever heard the famous saying by the legendary Warren Buffett that “Price is what you pay, Value is what you get?” As evident as it may seem, this principle is not always applied when buying consulting services. We’ve discussed the vast and diverse landscape of consulting services in previous episodes.
With so many offerings and innovative players, finding the right provider for your business can be time-consuming and complicated. But fear not because if you work with the right provider, you can create value through consulting and maximize the success of your project.
You want consultants who understand your business, have the proper knowledge and expertise, and are available to meet your project needs. In other words, you need a consulting provider with the right “consulting DNA” profile. So, listen to your teams and dig deep to solve your most challenging business problems. With the right provider, you’ll be unstoppable!
Set the Bar with Clear Expectations for the Ideal Consulting Provider in Your RFP
So, you’re probably wondering how to define the “Consulting DNA” profile you need. Well, every project is unique, and so is the RFP. However, you will always need to screen some elements of a consultant profile. The best way to do it is to review your RFP and discuss it with your colleagues to understand their expectations.
What are the main characteristics or markers they are looking for? Doing this lets you finely tune your search and find the perfect consulting provider to meet your needs. It’s all about being thorough and ensuring you get the most value for your money.
Understand Capabilities and Industry Expertise
Let’s get talk consulting 101. It all starts with understanding the basics: capabilities and industry expertise. You want to know what capabilities consulting firms will use to deliver your project, but sometimes their descriptions can sound like gibberish. That’s where you come in – you must act as a translator and ensure you understand what they’re offering.
For example, a company might list its capabilities as strategy, operations, and organization on its website, but what does that mean? It can be pretty broad and confusing, especially for the average executive. But fear not, because if you dig deeper and look for specifics, like supply chain strategy, supply chain organization, distribution strategy, and asset and working capital optimization, it becomes much easier to understand their expertise.
So, to make sure you find the right consulting provider for your project, you need to do your homework and understand their capabilities and expertise. Lucky for you, we have a comprehensive guide on our website called “Global Management Consulting Industry” that can help you out. This guide provides valuable insights and information on the consulting industry to help you make informed decisions. So head on over to consultingquest.com if you want to know more!
Then you need to define the industry experience you’re looking for. It may sound easy, but be warned, it’s all in the details. You need to pick up on the context and expected results to define what breadth and depth of knowledge you need. For example, suppose you’re in the Oil & Gas industry.
In that case, you may be interested in the industry broadly, or maybe your project is focused on Upstream Operations or Exploration/Production and, more specifically, Well Stimulation. So, deep dive into your project and precisely determine what you need. It’s all about being specific and finding the right fit!
Consider Geography and Footprint
The scope of your project can call for a global company or a company with offices in a specific country. You need to consider where the consulting firm will need to work, what languages they’ll need to speak, and what cultures they need to understand. It’s also important to consider where and how the team should interact with project leaders.
Let’s take an example of a lean project for a High-Tech company based in Germany with factories in Korea and the US. You might want to find a company with offices and consultants in both countries, so you don’t end up with a German guy explaining how to organize work in a Texas factory (although that could make for an exciting sitcom).
But wait, there’s more! Don’t forget to factor in travel expenses. When consultants come from far away, the additional costs can go up to 25-30% of your initial project budget. So, ask yourself – do you need the consultants onsite, or can you leverage modern communication technologies? It’s all about finding the right balance between cost and efficiency.
Factor in the Size of the Firm
Now let me tell you an ugly truth: in consulting, size does matter. Regarding consulting firms, you need to consider your policies regarding small firms or even independent consultants. But you also need to think about your project timeline.
You might want to consider a larger company with a global footprint if you have a tight timeline and multiple locations. These big dogs have the resources and manpower to do things quickly and efficiently. But if your timeline is a bit looser, and you only need support in one location, you can probably make it work with a smaller firm.
So, it all comes down to finding the right fit for your project needs. Don’t be afraid to go big or small – pick the perfect size for your consulting provider.
Let’s talk about credibility – the holy grail of consulting. Credibility is usually established through three main channels: brand thought leadership and partner profile.
Now, sometimes you DO need a big brand for your project. When your project has high exposure to the board or is politically charged, you want to work with the big players. They have credibility at the company’s highest levels and with your investors, and their shoulders are big enough to roll with the punches if you need a scapegoat.
But fear not my friends; there are other ways to establish credibility. Companies with relevant thought leadership can bring insights at the right level of expertise and in niche fields.
Let’s say you’re looking for deep expertise in multimodal transportation for process industries. Your team might be reluctant to work with consultants because they “know nothing.” But, if you bring in a consultant who wrote a book or several white papers about network distribution optimization and multimodal transportation, there’s a good chance your team will welcome them with open arms.
And let’s not forget about the partner profile. When building an intrapreneurial program to boost innovation, you want to look at innovation consulting firms with partners who mix entrepreneurial and corporate experience. And when you need to optimize your tail spend without a lot of resources, working with consultants with a past in corporate procurement can be super-efficient.
Do Not Forget Those Oft-Overlooked Elements – Delivery Model and Culture
Let’s start with the different consulting delivery models and which will work best for you. Do you need a consultant to help diagnose a problem or design a strategy? Or do you need support in implementing your decisions? It’s rare to find a consulting firm that excels at both, and implementation consultants are usually less expensive than strategy consultants. So, choose wisely!
Another thing to consider is whether you want a hard or soft approach. Are you prioritizing getting buy-in from your team and a collaborative process? Look for a consultant with a high sensitivity to change. Or, if your priority is getting the work done, you’ll need a consultant focused on the hard aspects of the project.
Lastly, how senior do you need your consultants to be? You’ll need senior consultants with on-field experience to professionalize your team’s processes. But if you’re just after results, you can work with younger consultants supervised by a more experienced colleague. It all depends on your priorities and goals!
And finally, don’t forget to take into account the cultural differences. We all know how diverse and quirky our world can be, right? From finger-patting Northerners to grumbling Southerners, every country has its own management culture, business etiquette, and communication preferences. It’s like trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube blindfolded – but with people!
So, regarding consulting projects in Asia, you need consultants who understand the local culture and language. Trust us, 50% of the message can easily get lost in translation. And you don’t want to nod politely without knowing what’s happening.
For example, in some Western countries, silence means consent. But in Asia, it could mean the complete opposite. And let’s not forget about the embarrassment factor. While some cultures love to air their dirty laundry in public (we’re looking at you, France, or Italy), others might feel quite uncomfortable disagreeing openly (hello, China!).
So, if you want your consulting project to succeed, make sure you find consultants who can easily navigate cultural differences. After all, you don’t want to end up with a Rubik’s Cube that’s even more scrambled than before!
Now that you have a good grasp of the elements that make up a consulting provider’s DNA, it’s time to find your match in consulting heaven. It’s like online dating but for your business! Like on a dating app, you need to know what you want to find the perfect match. So, take some time to consider your needs and create your consulting DNA profile. Next week, we’ll explore the exciting world of searching for your perfect consulting match.
So, what did we learn today? Well, we learned that when it comes to buying consulting services, it’s all about the value, not just the price. We discussed defining your consulting DNA profile and finding the perfect consulting provider for your business.
It starts with understanding their capabilities, industry expertise, and geographic footprint. But we also learned that credibility is vital, and there are many ways to establish it, whether through brand recognition, thought leadership, or partner profile. And don’t forget about the delivery model, culture, and seniority of your consultants!
But most importantly, we learned that consulting projects could be a Rubik’s Cube of cultural differences, so finding consultants who understand the local culture and language is essential. So, take some time to create your consulting DNA profile and find your match made in consulting heaven – it’s like online dating, but for your business!
And that’s it for this week’s episode of our consulting podcast! We hope you enjoyed learning about the elements of a consulting provider’s DNA and how to define the right consulting DNA profile for your project needs.
Finding the perfect consulting match is like online dating for your business – it takes time, effort, and a little luck. But fear not because next week, we’ll reveal our secret to searching and finding the right consulting provider for your project.
Until then, stay safe and happy sourcing, and if you have any questions regarding today’s topic or any consulting procurement-related topic, remember you can always contact me directly on LinkedIn or by email because I’m always game for a chat.
Bye and see you next week, au revoir.