7 secrets to always work with the best consultants
There are many reasons why executives can work with consultants to create value better and faster. As an outside vendor, a consultant often can see issues that stakeholders and employees too involved in your organization can’t provide.
7 secrets to always work with the best consultants.
Indeed, many companies often work with consulting providers and are managing a panel of suppliers to cover their needs
“The healthiest companies are always characterized by organic talent development.” – Margaret Heffernan
But consulting is a tricky category. How do you get the best of your panel?
Writing an RFP for consulting services is challenging. Project scope is not something you can measure, and it is often the result of extensive discussions within your teams.
1. Think performance measurement & talent development-
The first step is to get a sense of how well your consultants perform. After all, as Karl Pearson once said: ““When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported back, the rate of improvement accelerates.”
When you implement a systematic assessment after each project, you can get precious information of your suppliers’ performance. And what to do with it?
Share the results with your suppliers to help improve and better adapt to your needs and ways.
2. Let Go of Low-performers –
This is a no-brainer. You don’t want to work with Consultants that are not delivering the results expected. Get rid of the companies that are consistently underperforming.
When the feedback is alternating from good to bad, try to identify a pattern.
The poor feedbacks are on the same type of projects. They don’t have good results when they work in a hostile environment. Or they don’t really do well with very operational teams. Maybe you shouldn’t consider them for these projects in the future.
Only one of the Consulting partners has low-performance. Why not ask to work exclusively with the partners that have positive feedback?
3. Build your Bench –
It’s best to avoid tying yourself to only one supplier on your strategic needs. Think Supplier Risk management and apply the same sound principles than for other purchases.
Besides, each Consulting Firms have a different DNA profile and a different portfolio of projects at which they excel.
Find 2 or 3 different Consulting Firms for each strategic need. You might end up with the same supplier for several needs, and that is fine. And competition will keep all providers on their toes.
4. Identity Rising Stars on Your Team –
You will probably realize that you need to find new Consulting Providers for some strategic needs. When you are screening for new profiles, don’t forget that you only want high-performers. Ask for references and check them or ask a third-party to do so (when references are with competitors, or if you want to remain anonymous). Make sure they have done projects that are relevant to the said strategic need.
5. Diversify and Expand Your Sourcing –
Lack of actual knowledge of the current Consulting market leads many Executives into sourcing locally for their Consulting Projects. It’s also a fact of life that most sourcing is based on word of mouth and personal networks.
But you need to know that the Consulting Industry is not one homogeneous block. There some regional specificities, including on the capabilities. If you are looking for Operational Excellence Experts, you might have a look at Europe where companies are more mature in that field. For Leadership capabilities, on the other hand, you should explore the other side of the pond, where North American firms are more numerous and experienced.
Besides, you might need Consultants in locations that are on the other side of the globe. Will you have your Consultants travel thousands of kilometers to work on a project? Or should you just find Consulting Firms in any part of the world, when they best match your project’s needs? You know the answer.
6. Hunt for Freshness of Ideas –
Another key winning component is the freshness of ideas. Independently from the performance of your existing Consulting Providers, you might want to bring in new blood and fresh ideas. The Consulting Industry is constantly evolving, and new concepts are emerging. To stay current on the innovation trends disrupting your market, for instance, you want to look at the emerging players to test them out on projects.
7. Focus On Developing Synergies –
An interesting insight of the portfolio of projects is the potential synergies between different groups or business units, in particular for smaller projects.
For instance, you might find that you bought several times more or less the same project in different parts of your organization. Depending on the feasibility, you might consider grouping these needs in the future, and organize a joint competition.
You might also realize that the same Consulting Firm sold more or less the same project in different business units. Putting all the projects together would have helped you to increase your bargaining power and get better prices.
Last, if one part of your organization has a high-performer of a specific type of Consulting Project, while its neighbor had a low-performer, you probably want them to share the love (while you take out the low-performer from your panel).
Working with the best consulting firms is a no-brainer. But your best consulting partner might not be the same than your competitor’s. When managing your panel of suppliers and keeping track of their performance, you will sort out the good and the bad. And the results will be worth the effort.
As you generate extra value and savings, you will win the respect of the business lines and demonstrate what you can bring to the table. And who knows? It might get you a seat at the C-suite table…
Consulting sourcing tips
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Deciding who should be in the room when making big decisions is one of the most important aspects of any decision-making process. Obviously, those directly affected by the decision should be involved, but there are other key players whose voices need to be heard as well.
Type Consulting Procurement in your browser and look at the results. What do you find? A list of consulting companies that offer their services to help improve your company’s purchasing and/or sourcing capabilities. But is it the same thing as Consulting Procurement?
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Hélène Laffitte is the CEO of Consulting Quest, a Global Performance-Driven Consulting Platform and author of “Smart Consulting Sourcing”, a step by step guide to getting the best ROI from your consulting. With a blend of experience in Procurement and Consulting, Hélène is passionate about helping Companies create more value through Consulting.