Decision making for consulting projects – Why should Finance & Strategy get involved ?

Launching a large consulting project can be daunting. Often the project will impact several functions and locations. How to make sure the project will deliver?

On this week’s Smart consulting Sourcing podcast, Consulting Sourcing Expert Hélène Laffitte explains why should Finance and Strategy get involved in decision making on large consulting projects.

Key Takeaways

Independent of whether you implement strict Demand Management or just filter projects based on the costs, you need to look closely at the most expensive projects to ensure they are strategic and timely. For that purpose, you will need to have Strategy and Finance involved in the decision.

Transcript

Hello and welcome to episode 31 of our podcast: Smart Consulting Sourcing, THE podcast about Consulting Procurement.

My name is Hélène, and I’ll be your host today.

Each week I’ll give you the keys to better use, manage and source consulting services. This week, I’ll discuss Why should Finance and Strategy get involved in decision-making on large consulting projects?

Last week, I explained How to draft the right consulting agreement?

We saw what to include in a robust consulting agreement template. Because agreements are an excellent way to make that your expectations are understood, and a reference to build your case if the project goes awry.

Launching a large consulting project can be daunting. Often the project will impact several functions and locations. You are already looking at the potential challenges. How to make sure the project will deliver? How to embark our teams on the journey?

But before you start brainstorming on your ideal outcome, let’s make sure that the right people are in the room.

Include the right people in your decision making process

We saw in a previous podcast who does what in the consulting process. SO we know that we will need a project sponsor, the person accountable for the project. They will make sure that the project delivers the expected outcomes, and will champion the project to “sell” it within the project team and the organization.

We need a project manager, the person that has daily accountability for the project. We also need to have a procurement manager in the room to make the process follows company policies and procurement best practices. And we need the main stakeholders to make sure they embrace the project.

And that’s the case for any consulting project launched in your company. But a large project is another animal. It is often also a strategic project (and if it’s not, why are you launching it?). Even though Strategy is not always an explicit stakeholder, the group is responsible for designing and executing corporate goals.

And your project has a good chance to be a key piece of their action plan to make this Strategy happen. They will potentially be your ally in evaluating the strategic value of the project. But they might also have ideas in the scope of the project. In the same way, Finance is interested first hand by on the consulting budget is spent.

If the project is large, you will have to convince them at some point in time that your project is strategic and worthy of the investment. Why not anticipate the objections and involve them early on? You will gain their support and probably shorten the decision-making process.

But what is a large project exactly?

You won’t like the answer… because it depends. The definition is linked to the size of your company and the extent of your consulting spend. In other words, an SME could almost all consulting projects falling in that category, when a large Fortune 1000 company could have a threshold of around $250k.

That’s it. We launched the keyword “Threshold.” It has a special place in our consulting sourcing bingo card, right next to “Demand Management.”

The best way to determine your threshold is to have a look at your consulting spend profile. If you rank all projects from the last two years from the most expensive to the least expensive, where do you draw the line representing 80% of your spend?

Now draw a second line representing 20% of the projects (starting with the most expensive). Your threshold is somewhere between these two lines.

To choose the right threshold, you need to take into account several elements:

  • The degree of centralization for Procurement, Strategy & Finance
  • The workload any given threshold would represent for these functions
  • The flexibility your business lines will need to operate properly

Now I have a threshold, what’s next?

There is no one-size-fits-all organization that will magically get you all the benefits in a snap.
Depending on the volume of projects handled in the year, the level of centralization, or the strategic evolutions expected for the years to come, you have different options that could work.

=> Have a small key committee to validate large projects

The decision to move on for strategic projects or projects above a certain threshold in value is validated through a small committee made with Procurement, Strategy & Finance. Projects afterward are sourced and managed directly by operational teams.

Pros: Simple. Consistent with Strategy. Keeps Users reasonable. Cons: Potential crazy volume under management.

=> Implement multi-functional teams

Suppose managing Consulting is a strategic objective, and the volume of projects is sufficient, but not enough to justify dedicated Procurement professionals.

In that case, you can consider building multi-functional teams to review projects over a certain threshold with a core triumvirate made of Procurement, Strategy & Finance. This option will allow you to have more control over how projects are assessed and led. This option requires very clear processes and excellent collaboration between the different functions.

Pros: Flexible. Can adapt to the specific needs of a project. Cons: Complexity of organization in case of large volumes.

=> Implement a Strategic Committee

For Companies with large Consulting Spend, the best option is assembling a team dedicated to Consulting and integrating governance to decide on key projects. The Procurement professionals will ensure all projects are assessed and involve the right players in the process. They will bring more strategic projects to the Committee that will have representatives of the major functions. The centralization of decisions will allow you to focus your energy and resources on the most impactful projects.

Pros: Still Flexible. Alignment with Strategy. Cons: A lower degree of decentralization can be a challenge for some companies. Requires enough critical mass to justify the costs

Independent of whether you implement strict Demand Management or just filter projects based on the costs, you need to look closely at the most expensive projects to ensure they are strategic and timely.

For that purpose, you will need to have Strategy and Finance involved in the decision. Embarking on them early in the process will help keep the deadlines and smooth the validation.

That’s it for today. Next time, I’ll explain Anticipate your consulting needs to start building relationships and intimacy with your providers

In the meantime, if you have any questions, or want to learn more about what we do at consulting quest, just send me an email at helene.laffitte@consultingquest.com

You can also have a look at our website smartconsultingsourcing.com to know more about our book and download free templates & guides to improve your consulting sourcing.

Bye and see you next week! Au revoir!

decision making. decision making. decision making. decision making. decision making. decision making. decision making. decision making. decision making. decision making.

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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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