Onboarding Management for Consulting

Executives are generally averse to the idea of working with consultants. This reluctance primarily comes from two managerial mistakes: a negative perception of Consulting and inefficient Consulting Procurement capabilities.

However, at times the management cannot just do without some expert help. Failing to avail of this support, it may miss out on a lot of valuable insights and perspectives.

So, onboarding management to work with consultants is the first step to ensuring the success of your consulting project.

Key Takeaways

You hire consultants because you lack the necessary knowledge and experience in-house or because your project is not moving forward quickly enough.

There are two primary explanations you’ll get from your senior management if you inquire as to why they don’t utilize consultancy. They initially think they are squandering their money. It appears to be a sunk cost to them since they cannot see the benefit being produced.

Centralizing your consulting budget is a good practice to ensure good balancing year on year of your resources.

Science alignment is crucial to both plan implementation and organizational performance.

If you want to force senior management to engage with consultants, you must begin building relationships with all of the company’s decision-makers.

 

 

Transcript

Hello and welcome back to Smart Consulting Sourcing, the only podcast about consulting procurement.

I am Hélène and today I’ll be talking about onboarding the top management on consulting.

But before we get into that, let me give you a recap about our previous episode.

Tail spent is even seen as the ugly stepchild of corporate budgeting is the money that’s left over after the big-ticket items have been accounted for. And it can be hard to justify spending on small scale projects when there are more pressing needs elsewhere.

However, tackling the consulting tail spend can actually be a major driver of company’s growth, and it’s important to take a closer look at how this money is being spent.

In many cases, the consulting Tail spent is actually going towards essential but low priority projects such as small operation excellence or team effectiveness projects. By identifying these projects and killing the low priority, once you can free up cash and use it to invest in more impactful projects.

Next time you’re thinking about making a purchase for your business, ask yourself if it’s really tough spend or if it’s just something that doesn’t align with your company’s goals.

Changes are it’s the latter and if that’s the case, maybe resting that purchase before heating up to cart.

In consulting, the management of the tail spend is closely related to demand management and make or buy analysis. That’s why I usually recommend to tackle them first. And once it has sunk in, then you can start working on the tail.

Another requisite is having visibility on the tail and that’s a major limitation since many procurement leaders complain about the fact that they are not informed of consulting projects.

And that’s where investing in a digital solution again really helps you get that information without changing too much the ways of working.

So, you can listen to the entire podcast on major streaming platform or watch it on our YouTube channel, but today we are going to explain how to onboard your top management on consulting or in other words, how to get them to consider consulting as a strategic level.

So, the most successful organizations are those that find ways to take advantage of external resources. When you are running low on in-house expertise or simply can’t get anything done.

Consultants with the right skills will come a big for your business, especially when there’s no run else around.

But you, can’t force your management to work with consultants. If you want to make sure that they are on board, then it’s best that they get an understanding of what is consulting.

It goes without saying, but before launching any initiative with consultants, be their internal or external ones, you may need some insurance that your top management and I mean all your top management is clear on how to create value through consulting.

Why do Executives don’t want to work with consultants?

So let me start off by explaining you why your top management might be reluctant to work with consultants. There is a multitude of reasons why executives don’t like to work with consultants, and some are based on their personal experience, and some are just urban legends.

So, let’s focus on the most common reasons. They don’t always understand what consulting is. So working with consultants is not something that all executives are familiar with.

It’s true, some executives have never collaborated with a consultant before and that’s unfortunate because consultant can be beneficial to any company and there is part of the world, some industry or even some function within a given company that are more reluctant to work with consultants.

But overall, they will always come an occasion where top managers will require assistant from professionals outside their own organization.

And that could be for instance, um, strategy consulting for growth and innovation initiatives. Second reason is that they don’t understand how consulting creates value. So, your top managers might feel that they have the resource in house to do the work or think consultants are just regurgitating what they told them and have little expertise.

And according to the source global research, only 35% of executives say that the consulting firm them worked with have added more value than it took in face.

And indeed, high quality consulting doesn’t necessarily mean superior value creation. They feel like working with consultant is admitting they can’t do their job right.

And to be honest, this is true in certain instances. Your hire consultant because you lack the necessary knowledge of an experience in-house or if your project is not moving forward quickly enough. But does that necessarily mean that you are not performing your duties properly?

You could encounter a lot of a position inside your company depending on how top management presents the consultant team and how it’ll engage with the internal stakeholders but sometimes not working with them, is the problem. So, your executive might think consulting is too expensive.

If you ask your top management why they don’t use consultant, there are too many answers you will hear.

First, they feel like they’re wasting money, they don’t see the value being created, so it feels like the same cost.

Second, they might have worked with the wrong consultants and the wrong project in the past, maybe the consultant lacked expertise or maybe the management was trying to use them on the wrong project. For instance, a strategy consulting firm on an operational project.

In either case, it wasn’t worth it. So they have decided just to go it alone from now.

Of course, the thinking is shortsighted and yes, management needs to be careful about choosing the right consultants for the right projects.

But if they are never willing to use consultants at all, they’re going to miss out on a lot of valuable insight and perspectives.

Sometimes management just needs to suck it up and pay for some expert help. They might not like it, but it’s worth it on the long run. So in order to onboard your management to work with consultant, this is what you can do.

Most of the reasons why executives don’t like working with consultants come from two managerial mistakes, a negative perception about consulting and an efficient consulting procurement capability. You have probably formed a consulting in your teams.

In 2015 there were 30,000 alumni from McKinsey alone working in about 450 running billion dollars plus organization according to the financial times.

If there has spent enough time in a consulting firm, they have a very clear and must probably objective understanding of what consulting is and is not.

They might also be able to explain with example from their practice the value created by consultant, whether it’s tangible like savings or increased revenues or intangible like leadership or process optimization. Another step is to convince them that hiring consultant will not be considered as a failure of execution but rather an acceleration.

Don’t oppose the consulting team to your internal team but rather encourage collaboration. However, make sure your internal or former consultant don’t engage in a competition with your external consultants to prove their value.

First, nobody asks them to demonstrate who’s the smartest and second, those might end up losing sight of the objectives.

Finally, you know that building a solid consulting procurement capability and measuring the performance of your providers and acting on it will increase the satisfaction on your team when working with consultants and impact positively the return on investment of your consulting projects.

So you need to make sure that your top executive will spend consulting in line with your strategy once they grasp the advantage of working with consultants and observing the policies while buying consulting to maximize the original investment of your consulting expenditure.

It’s critical to connect your spending with your strategy as have previously underlined in great detail. When you are in face of written task of your job, it might not be clear, but consulting for better for worse is sticking into account in your budgeting exercise.

As a consequence, the department that use consulting one year continues to budget for it while the department next door should get some help but does not get anything.

Centralizing your consulting budget is a good practice to ensure good balancing year on year of your resources, a gentle reminder of your organization’s goals never hurts.

Science alignment is crucial to both plan implementation and organizational performance.

Spend some time doing a quick alignment exercise with your management team or designate a person or committee to obviously the priority. So, where to start the whole onboarding process.

Where to start the whole onboarding management for consulting process?

Before you do anything, let’s work on the relationship. If you are bound to make the top management work with consultant, you need to start establishing relationship with every decision maker in the company.

And pay attention to their problems and the reasons they don’t want to hire consultants considering that are the misconception that you’re trying to deconstruct.

After knowing what their concerns are, choose one member of the top management who is either a former consultant, has worked with consultants in the past or is an earlier adopter to serve as a pilot or an example for the rest of the business.

As my first management used to say, A good example is always better than alone speech. It will help convince other members of the top management team.

The objective here is to build on the positive experience and gradually win over the entire organization, with your new friend, build the business case to gain the support of the remaining senior management.

If you require input, but like the necessary resources of experience within use an RFI procedure (Request For Information). That’s where you can browse approaches and methodologies with different consulting firms and pick some information.

But be careful though to not already choose the consultant at this state. It has to be as open as possible unless it is a very unique skill set or expertise.

So now in order to make the project accepted by all, make sure to conduct your RFP procedure with care, but there are some general principles that can help.

First, make sure that the goals of the project are clear and that everyone understands them.

Second, involve as many stakeholders as necessary in the decision making process.

Third, be flexible and adaptable to change. And fourth, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it with careful planning and execution. And the organization can successfully navigate the challenges of working with consultants.

During the project, make sure the project sponsor and the project leader are indeed managing the project and ensuring that the results are delivered as expected.

And when the project is solver, get the feedback from the different stakeholders and help your internal clients to spread the news and shine in front of the rest of the top management.

And if you do that right, I’m sure that you will find another member of the top management willing to work with you. And then, rinse and repeat.

In Conclusion,

To conclude to this topic, there is a multitude of reasons why executives don’t like to work with consultants. Some are based on their personal experience, some are just urban legends.

So, executives don’t always understand what consulting is, what value it brings to the table. They think it’s too expensive and somewhere dig down. They feel like by hiring external expertise, they would just showcase the lack of ability to do the job.

So in order to make the top management accept working with the consultants, you need to convince them that they will generate more impact and be seen as a positive accomplishment.

And you can do that by building a solid consulting procurement capability and measuring the performance of your providers and acting on it. It’ll increase the satisfaction of your teams when working with consultants.

But before you do anything, keep in mind that you need to have strong relationship with every decision maker in the company and pay attention to their problems and do reasons why they don’t want to hire consultants considering that as the misconception that you are trying to deconstruct.

And that’s it. I hope that you have everything now to onboard your top consulting. Thanks for listening. That marks the end of a podcast.

So keep an eye up for me next week when I return with another fascinating topic.

Till then, stay safe and happy sourcing and if you have all the questions and how to make your top management embrace consulting, 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.

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

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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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