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Podcast | What is consulting?

Consulting is often defined as giving expert advice to other professionals. True, but I think it is a bit simplistic...

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This Week In Consulting: How technology will impact the future?

Wednesday, November 24th 2021
This week inConsulting
How technology will impact the future?

This week’s must read

Deep Tech and the Great Wave of Innovation

The impact of the next big surge of innovation will be felt everywhere.

Artificial intelligence (AI), synthetic biology, nanotechnologies, and quantum computing, among other advanced technologies, will drive the next large wave of innovation propelled by emerging technologies. However, the convergences of technologies and ideas that will accelerate and reshape innovation for decades to come are even more crucial.
This Week’s Must Read is an insight piece from Antoine Gourévitch, Massimo Portincaso, Arnaud de la Tour, Nicolas Goeldel, and Usman Chaudhry, BCG about how technologies can solve big problems the world will face.

 Antoine Gourévitch, Massimo Portincaso, Arnaud de la Tour, Nicolas Goeldel, and Usman Chaudhry @BCG

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Thought Leadership

Three ways to maximize the business value of AI

Don’t get caught up in the AI hype, these three essential tips will enable you to rapidily deliver business value from your AI projects

AI, machine learning (ML), and data science have all been surrounded by hype since their inception. We’ve been promised technology that will solve our most difficult problems for us and optimize everything from internal operations to consumer interactions automatically. What is it really like?

 Jarno Kartela and Max Pagels @ thoughtworks

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101: What on earth is the metaverse?

Remember when the internet changed everything? The metaverse could be about to do the same. Here’s our guide to what it is and why you need to know about it.

The’metaverse,’ also known as the mirror world, AR cloud, spatial internet, social internet, embodied internet, or even the magicverse, is… well, difficult to explain. As a result of the lockdown and quarantine, many people were cut off from their friends and relatives. Were individuals interacting with metaverse prototypes? While it isn’t here yet, you may have been unwittingly investigating its origins.

Amy Gibbs@PwC Australia

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Hardware’s business-model shift: Finding a new path forward

New business models present an opportunity for IT infrastructure providers facing a migration in value as buyers demand cloud-like, customer-centric experiences .

IT infrastructure OEMs have no choice but to reinvent their business models to increase the share of recurring revenue from subscriptions, software and services. What actions are required to achieve this business model transformation?

Himanshu Agarwal, Chandra Gnanasambandam, Mitra Mahdavian, and Srinath Nagarajan@McKinsey

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Trends Transforming The Technology Consulting Industry In 2022 | Linchpin

Linchpin SEO - Trends Transforming The Technology Consulting Industry in 2022. Believe in a better marketing agency experience.

Over the last few years, the technology consulting business has seen substantial transformations. It has seen a wide range of fashions come and go over this time. While many of these have made an indelible mark on the industry, others have gone undetected.

 @Linchpin SEO

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This week’s Consulting News

GODSPEED CAPITAL ACQUIRES ASCENT ENGINEERING GROUP, INC. — Godspeed Capital

Godspeed Capital Management LP, a lower middle-market Defense & Government services, solutions, and technology focused private equity firm, announced today the acquisition of Ascent Engineering Group, Inc., an Engineering & Consulting firm that specializes in the engineering and design of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (“MEP”) systems for K-12, Higher Education, Healthcare, and State & Local Government clients.   | @Godspeed Capital Management @Ascent Engineering
 

Globant acquires sales and marketing IT specialist Navint

Navint assists customers in evaluating their go-to-market and monetization models, optimizing their lead-to-revenue operations, and maximizing the return on their technology investments in CRM, configure price quote (CPQ), customer loyalty management (CLM), invoicing, and enterprise resource planning (ERP). Salesforce is the company’s primary emphasis, although it also handles Oracle, SAP, Sage Intacct, and Workday deployments. | @Globant @Navint Partners
 

Ankura Consulting Group Announces Investment from HPS Investment Partners, LLC - Ankura

Ankura Consulting Group, an independent global expert services and advisory firm, announced today a strategic investment from HPS Investment Partners, LLC, a leading global investment firm, which will become a minority equity owner, alongside its lead investor Madison Dearborn Partners, a leading private equity firm. The investment, which is anticipated to conclude this calendar year, values the company at $1.5 billion. | @Ankura
 

Pioneering Leadership Consultant, Egon Zehnder, Dies at 91 - Hunt Scanlon Media

He was the ultimate leadership visionary, inspiring leaders to wrestle with difficult and often challenging issues about themselves, their peers, and their companies. Along the way, Egon Zehnder established a gold standard brand that has endured the test of time as a symbol of honesty and prudence. | @Hunt Scanlon Media

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This week’s media

If we’re being honest, technology is extremely sophisticated now, and we’re making advancements that will allow us to push things even farther. What would be the Future Technology, from items in the air to new things for our bodies?

Consulting sourcing tips

Podcast | What is consulting?

by Hélène Laffitte | Nov 25, 2021 | Clients, Knowing the Consulting Industry, PodcastConsulting is often defined as giving expert advice to other professionals. True, but I think it is a bit simplistic…

Consulting Procurement or Procurement Consulting?

by Hélène Laffitte | Nov 23, 2021 | Post of the Week, Clients, Managing the Consulting Sourcing ProcessConsulting Procurement or Procurement Consulting?Let's play a game. Type Consulting Procurement in your browser and look at the results. What do you find? Procurement consulting companies. It's true ! Consulting Procurement or Procurement Consulting?...

Podcast | 5 Real-Life Lessons About Consulting Sourcing

by Hélène Laffitte | Nov 18, 2021 | Clients, Managing The Consulting Category, PodcastSourcing doesn't start when you select the consultants you want to work with. It starts with a problem you want to solve. You could say sourcing starts even before you identify the projects that are sourcing candidates. On this week’s Smart consulting Sourcing...

Older Entries

Previous Weeks’ issues

This Week In Consulting: How technology will impact the future?

by Hélène Laffitte | Nov 24, 2021 | This Week in ConsultingWednesday, November 24th 2021 This week inConsulting How technology will impact the future?This week's must read[visual-link-preview...

This Week In Consulting: Challenging problems to crack? Start Reframing!

by Hélène Laffitte | Nov 16, 2021 | This Week in ConsultingWednesday, November 17th 2021 This week inConsulting Challenging problems to crack? Start Reframing!This week's must read[visual-link-preview...

This Week In Consulting: Coaching, a skill and a lever for busy managers

by Hélène Laffitte | Nov 9, 2021 | This Week in ConsultingWednesday, November 10th 2021 This week inConsulting Coaching, a skill and a lever for busy managersThis week's must read[visual-link-preview...

Older Entries

Consulting Procurement or Procurement Consulting?

Consulting Procurement or Procurement Consulting?

Let’s play a game. Type Consulting Procurement in your browser and look at the results. What do you find? Procurement consulting companies. It’s true !

Consulting Procurement or Procurement Consulting?
quick Google search of “consulting procurement” returns 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?
Let’s have a closer look.

READ ALSO
When you need to buy consulting services, there are some mistakes that can make the process more difficult…

Consulting Procurement is most of the time internal.
It usually involves hiring someone within the company to buy or specify consulting services. The person in charge is often called a “consulting buyer” and is part of the indirect procurement team.
When a company doesn’t have the critical mass to have a dedicated “consulting buyer”, they can outsource their consulting spend to a sourcing company specialized in the management consulting category.
Consulting Procurement is about only one category: management consulting
Procurement consulting is about providing the services to buy goods and/or services, training on how to source or procure those items. It covers all direct and indirect categories. Some procurement consultants specialize in one or a group of categories to offer deeper expertise to their clients.
But Consulting Procurement is about one category: management consulting. It is an intellectual service, which is part of professional services and the indirect spend.
Both apply the same principles and methodologies
Consulting Procurement relies on the tools promoted by procurement consultants: strategic sourcing, category management, and other procurement best practices.
Consulting is an intangible service. It means that the consultants are selling their intelligence, their knowledge, and their expertise. Therefore it is difficult to describe your expectations and to measure the results. And that’s where procurement should focus when buying consulting services.
Both require the same skills but not the same expertise
Procurement consultants and consulting procurement experts are part of the same big family: the procurement nerds. Moreover, they both require similar skills: analytical thinking, negotiation skills; building relationships with all players (internal stakeholders) involved in sourcing/procurement activities; …
Consulting Procurement requires an in-depth understanding of the company strategy and the company challenges combined with a strong knowledge of the Consulting Category. You need more depth on a narrower segment.
Procurement Consulting requires to excel on the procurement front. It also requires you to be good at selling your services to external clients.
Both need to collaborate with the internal stakeholders
Procurement consultants are usually called when there is a problem. They also need to be able to work closely with the internal stakeholders to help them through change management, decision-making skills… They need to be good in project mode and can afford at times to be a bit blunt as they are 100% results-driven.
Likewise, consulting procurement professionals need to collaborate with their internal clients to source efficiently. The business lines bring their needs and business acumen, while procurement brings their tools and processes to facilitate and guide the purchase. They need to develop deeper relationships and to manage carefully all relationships as they plan to evolve within the company.
Both have to build trust with the top management
A consulting project that does not get the buy-in of the top management is doomed to fail. It is change management 101. You’d rather have half-baked recommendations fully accepted rather than perfect advice rejected by everyone.
Consulting Procurement groups need to build trust and credibility to be involved in the purchase of management consulting projects. Very often, they are only called at the very end to negotiate the price. Because the business lines don’t see the value they can bring to the process.
Consulting Procurement is a tiny niche
Operations consulting represents roughly 30% of the consulting market and procurement consulting is an evergreen need. All companies across industries need to optimize their tail spend, reduce their costs, or improve their sourcing capability.
While consulting only represents 2 to 5% of the overall spend of a company on average. However, the impact on the business is often way bigger, sometimes more than 10 times the cost of the project.
Procurement Consultants rarely cover the consulting category
Some procurement consulting leaders are proposing optimization services for the consulting category as part of a broader offering. But most of the time, they are not fully equipped to support their clients and they have a conflict of interest. For instance, as a tier 1 consulting firm, would you recommend challenging the incumbents and including tier 2 or tier 3 suppliers in the PSL? To address this gap. there is a handful of niche boutiques specialized in the consulting category, Consulting Quest being one of them.
Consulting Procurement teams often do not have the critical mass to be 100% focused on Consulting so they are often addressing other indirect or professional services activities.
If you’re reading this blog post, then you know that consulting procurement and procurement consulting are not the same. Consulting Procurement is most of the time internal and applies to the management consulting category only. Both apply the same principles and methodologies but they require different skill sets. Consulting Procurement professionals and Procurement consultants both need to collaborate with stakeholders and build trust with top management by leveraging their connections in order to be successful. Finally, Consulting Procurement is a tiny niche that procurement consultants rarely cover.
You may have guessed our suggestion for those who want help understanding these two concepts better already – call us! We are always game for a chat.

Author detailsAuthor Bio

Hélène Laffitte

Co-founder & CEO at Consulting Quest

Hélène is the author of Smart Consulting Sourcing, a step by step guide to getting the best ROI from your Consuting. You can follow @helenelaffitte on Twitter.

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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.

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Consulting sourcing tips

Podcast | What is consulting?

Consulting is often defined as giving expert advice to other professionals. True, but I think it is a bit simplistic…

Consulting Procurement or Procurement Consulting?

Podcast | 5 Real-Life Lessons About Consulting Sourcing

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Previous Weeks’ issues

This Week In Consulting: How technology will impact the future?

Wednesday, November 24th 2021 This week inConsulting How technology will impact the future?This week's must read[visual-link-preview...
read more

This Week In Consulting: Challenging problems to crack? Start Reframing!

Wednesday, November 17th 2021 This week inConsulting Challenging problems to crack? Start Reframing!This week's must read[visual-link-preview...
read more

This Week In Consulting: Coaching, a skill and a lever for busy managers

Wednesday, November 10th 2021 This week inConsulting Coaching, a skill and a lever for busy managersThis week's must read[visual-link-preview...
read more

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Podcast | 5 Real-Life Lessons About Consulting Sourcing

Sourcing doesn’t start when you select the consultants you want to work with. It starts with a problem you want to solve. You could say sourcing starts even before you identify the projects that are sourcing candidates.
On this week’s Smart consulting Sourcing podcast, I provide 5 Real-Life Lessons About Consulting Sourcing.
Key Takeaway: There you have five lessons about consulting sourcing that might just change the way you work with consultants in your company and what you expect from them. Anticipate your needs, define the right criteria to find the right consultant, apply a sensible sourcing process, define your expectations and measure the performance. Nothing groundbreaking, just common sense!

Transcript
 
Hello and welcome to episode 65 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.
In Last week’s episode, I discussed how to lead a make-or-buy analysis for a consulting project
The make-or-buy analysis for the consulting category is not different from other categories. Whenever you launch a project, you have to ask yourself if your project is a good candidate for outsourcing to consultants and if it will create more value than leading the project internally. Besides Make-or-Buy Decisions are usually closely related to Demand Management. Therefore, putting together a Framework that allows you to make both decisions simultaneously can save you some time and energy.
In this week’s episode, I wanted to give you 5 Real-Life Lessons About Consulting Sourcing.
Before starting, let me remind you that this Podcast is different from other sourcing-related podcasts. We only focus on the management consulting category. You will find some commonalities with other professional services though since these categories are intangible as well.
But let’s get started.
The first lesson is: sourcing doesn’t start when you select the consultants you want to work with.
It starts with a problem you want to solve. You could say sourcing starts even before you identify the projects that are sourcing candidates.
It is important to start investing some time early on to understand the challenges your company is facing or what strategy you want to develop in the next 2/3 years.
Only by understanding your firm’s vision for the future and its current challenges, you will be able to identify the consulting firms you need in your panel of preferred providers.
It will allow you to verify references, evaluate providers for a specific capability, pre-negotiate the terms and conditions, and sign a framework agreement. Then when your internal stakeholders need something, they’ll be able to speed up the process. You’ll also be able to negotiate better prices and discounts on volume.
The second lesson is:  there is no perfect consulting partner.
This might be shocking, but it’s true! The market for consulting services does not offer a “one size fits all” solution. Not only will you have to make the usual trade-off between quality and price, but also between expertise and geographical coverage, intimacy & stability vs one-time/fresh skills…
The key here is to find your sweet spot in the middle of these trade-offs. You need to be able to profile each potential provider using a set of criteria that are important for your project.
Once you’ve decided which criteria matter the most to your project, it is time to compare each potential provider against these criteria. The best way to do this is to rank them in a given order and then score them against relevant criteria. Keep in mind that your goal here is not necessarily to find the perfect match but rather to identify the best options for your needs.
The third lesson I wanted to highlight today is: the sourcing process is the same as any other category.
Many companies involve Procurement in the last stages of the sourcing process, often to negotiate the price, even for rather large or expensive projects.  And very often they take shortcuts in the sourcing process. Because they think it doesn’t apply to management consulting.
They don’t write requirements, they work with the consultants to help them define their needs. They don’t screen the market, they work with consultants they already know.
Don’t get me wrong. You don’t need to have precise requirements to launch a project. That’s called an RFI (Request for Information) process. And you are not obliged to screen the market or launch a competition when you have perfectly abled consultants in your panel.
But all these decisions can be made within a structured sourcing process and with the support of procurement professionals. Because unless you have worked in procurement and in consulting before, there is a good chance that you’ll be at a disadvantage when sourcing consultants.
The fourth lesson I wanted to highlight today is: consultants expect their clients to know what they want before entering into a project.
I’m sure this sounds like common sense, right? Well, let me tell you a true story. A few months ago, I sourced a project for one of my clients. I called a consulting firm that we have worked with before because they had the right profile for the project and I knew first hand they were delivering high-quality work.
I started explaining to the partner the project and told him that the scope was still a bit blurry and we were working on it. He told me: “That’s why I like working with you. Your RFPs are always clear and reasonable. You save us so much of the back and forth with the clients…”
What does it tell us? That consultants usually hate vague requirements, because they are taking too many risks when they make a proposal.
The fifth and last lesson is:  you should always measure performance.
I hear some of you thinking: “But you just said consulting was intangible…”  It is. But that doesn’t mean you can’t measure it!
And now you are thinking: “Measure performance? How does that work, exactly?”  Let’s go back to the beginning of the process: when you define your requirements.
Everything you want from your project should be translated into what we call success indicators. They are what you check at the end of the project to make sure that what was promised was delivered.
In my experience, consultants love getting feedback on their work. “What was great in their work? What wasn’t? What could they have done better?”
 
They will appreciate the feedback at a personal level and it will help them improve their own processes.
And what about you? Well, measuring the performance early on in the project will help you make sure the projects stay on track. And it can give you input to build improvement plans with your preferred providers.
So there you have it: five lessons about consulting sourcing that might just change the way you work with consultants in your company and what you expect from them.
That’s where our episode ends, thank you for listening. Next week, I’ll try to define what is consulting.  I know not everyone agrees on this. That might not be easy, but I promise to do my best to give you a clear answer that is not too complicated. You will not have to take notes during the episode…
If you want more episodes go to podcast.smartconsultingsourcing.com.
And 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 consultingquest.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!

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Podcast | How to lead a make-or-buy analysis for a consulting project?

You should always check if you have some Internal resources available when you start a project. Because it frequently entails keeping expenditures low and making the most of your internal talents and assets. However, this may rapidly run out of steam if the project team isn’t granted adequate time and responsibilities to manage the project successfully. So how do you decide to launch a project internally or to hire consultants?
On this week’s Smart consulting Sourcing podcast, I discuss How to lead a make-or-buy analysis for a consulting project.
Key Takeaway: The make-or-buy analysis for the consulting category is not different from other categories. Whenever you launch a project, you have to ask yourself if your project is a good candidate for outsourcing to consultants and if it will create more value than leading the project internally. Besides Make-or-Buy Decisions are usually closely related to Demand Management. Therefore, putting together a Framework that allows you to make both decisions simultaneously can save you some time and energy.

Transcript
 
Hello and welcome to episode 64 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.
In this week’s episode, I’ll tell you how to lead a make-or-buy analysis for a consulting project
Last week, I discussed whether you always need worldwide consultants for global projects.
We learned that procuring consulting services is not rocket science. But it’s not easy either. Unfortunately, I find that many buyers are unaware of the complexity of buying consulting services. That is why they often choose to work with big global consultancies instead of taking the time to find a good fit for their projects. And this can lead to major issues down the line.
If you need consulting services, determining how to find consultants can be a complicated task. Selecting which consultants to work with based on their quality, approach, responsiveness, and costs is not always easy. In addition, consultants’ geographical location or cultural fit could push your final decision one way or another. However, before the hiring process starts, you can find the perfect consultant for your project through thorough research.
You should always check if you have some Internal resources available when you start a project. Because it frequently entails keeping expenditures low and making the most of your internal talents and assets.
However, this may rapidly run out of steam if the project team isn’t granted adequate time and responsibilities to manage the project successfully.
Furthermore, because internal project leaders are frequently high-potentials on the fast track for senior leadership, they find it difficult to challenge boundaries and confront more established leaders and influencers who have the power to determine their success.
I mean, would you dare to tell the ugly truth to a member of the C-suite as a young professional? Probably not.
However, assigning an independent team can bring focus, speed, and pressure to the table in some circumstances, which is usually enough for a project’s success.
Most companies and their procurement function work to optimize their external spend and their pool of suppliers to better support the overall strategy.
As a result, they have developed methods for answering a variety of complicated questions: 

What are the key activities that can be outsourced? 

What does the pool of potential suppliers look like? 

How mature is the market for suppliers? 

What providers are appropriate for us? 

Is it worth it to outsource a particular activity for the long term?

The same questions apply to Consulting Procurement. Unfortunately, most companies have neither the experience nor the methods to answer them. Yet, today, all leaders throughout an organization, from the head of procurement to senior executives responsible for signing off on major consulting projects, are expected to align their activities with the enterprise’s overall strategy. 
But when it comes to making decisions about consultants, they fall back on word of mouth, on perceptions of the reputations of various providers, and on the sometimes-outsized claims of the consultants themselves. Or they take the line of least resistance and simply hire the consultants they have used in the past, regardless of whether those consultants are the most appropriate for a particular project or for furthering the company’s broader strategy.
These leaders have no reliable way to determine whether a particular consultant precisely meets the company’s needs, no way to gauge a consultant’s likely level of performance, and no benchmarks against which to compare providers. And until they avail themselves of an independent, credible means of assessing providers and matching them to their company’s needs, they are likely to lag their competitors who have.
But let’s go back to the start. When you look at a project, there are two things that you should check before hiring a consultant. First, is it possible to externalize this project? And second, does it create value?
Let’s have a look at the “Externaliz-ability” of your project
Best procurement practices recommend having a well-defined project that can be handled independently (as much as possible) from the rest of the organization.
For Consulting projects, these best practices translate into the ability to function in project mode with a focused team.

Are you able to define clear deliverables for your project?

You need to describe the results or outcomes you expect from the project. It can be a document (report, presentation) or a meeting (workflow, seminar).

Can you define a firm deadline for the project?

Your project has to be clearly limited in time. Interestingly enough, the ability to define a firm deadline is closely related to your project’s priority level. The higher the priority, the firmer the deadline.

 What is the level of uncertainty of your project?

Another critical point is the level of uncertainty. For example, suppose your project has a lot of interdependencies with other internal activities. In that case, it can soon become impossible to deliver on quality and time if any other party involved does not deliver on quality and time. Therefore, you need your project to be as independent as possible from other parts of the organization.

Do you have access to the necessary resources?

Tricky question. The idea here is to assess if the resources you need for your project are accessible internally or externally. Or in other words, are there individuals in your company or in external consulting firms able to deliver on your project?
Once you have validated that your project was a good candidate for external consultants, you can evaluate the externalization value or the value created through outsourcing the project.

Are the skills involved in the project core for your company?

When you have the right skills and resources available internally, doing the project in-house might make more sense. If that is not the case, but the skills are or will soon be core to your company, you might want to beef up your existing teams and launch the project internally. Will we need this skill for other projects in the next three years?
Using external resources to build the foundation of a new competency, and start up-skilling your teams, can be a brilliant move.

Is there a specific reason to go external?

You might want to take advantage of independent expertise, get third-party validation for your management decisions, or .leverage a consultant’s brand to justify painful decisions. In all these cases, working with external consultants will be a key success factor for your project.

Do we improve the business case if we accelerate the project?

Outsourcing a project should bring more value than doing it in-house. If boosting the project (compared to the time it would take internally) adds value, you want to work with consultants.

Do we have the necessary skills and resources to supervise the project?

You will need to find a project manager who understands the project’s scope and the Consulting Firm’s work. And you will need to free some of his team to supervise the project properly.

 Are there companies that can provide that service?

This is another tricky question. The consulting market is very rich and diverse. There are more than 5,000 consulting firms across the globe! There is a good chance that there is one that provides the service you are looking for. However, if you are looking for a very niche or a hybrid skillset, it might make sense to do a little research.

Is there sensitive IP or information involved in the project?

You don’t want your IP or your strategy to be out there. Some consultants have specialized in working across the board on one industry and selling their benchmark. Besides, from a strict risk management standpoint, the more people involved in a project, the riskier to breach confidentiality.
Now you probably have a better idea of the value you get can from outsourcing the project. And you can get to the next step: defining the scope of your project in more details.
But let me go back to make or buy. Whenever you launch a project, you have to ask yourself if your project is a good candidate for outsourcing to consultants and if it will create more value than leading the project internally.
Make-or-Buy Decisions are usually closely related to Demand Management. Therefore, putting together a Framework that allows you to make both decisions simultaneously can save you some time and energy.
A very common and visual tool to support decision-making when the criteria are difficult to compare is the Decision Matrix. The role of the Decision-Matrix is to remove the subjectivity and thus facilitate the discussion and the reach of a consensus.
That’s where our episode ends. Next week, I’ll give you 5 Real-Life Lessons About Consulting Sourcing.
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!

Podcast | Do you always need global consultants for global projects?

When you start a project, you must select the appropriate consulting firm. A first glance, a global project is calling for a global consultancy. But is it always true?
On this week’s Smart consulting Sourcing podcast, I discuss whether you always need worldwide consultants for global projects.
Key Takeaway: If you need consulting services, determining how to find consultants can be a complicated task. Selecting which consultants to work with based on their quality, approach, responsiveness, and costs is not always easy. In addition, consultants’ geographical location or cultural fit could push your final decision one way or another. Before the hiring process starts, you can find the perfect consultant for your project by doing thorough research.

Transcript
 
Hello and welcome to episode 63 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.
In this week’s episode, I’ll discuss whether you always need worldwide consultants for global projects.
Last week, I covered how to assess the quality of a consultant.
We learned that assessing the performance of your consulting projects may provide the keys to improving the return on your investment and satisfying internal customers. Consultants will frequently argue that consulting is intangible, making it impossible to measure. It is merely a ruse to prevent change from occurring. Other domains have established effective evaluation processes for intangible outcomes.
This week, I wanted to tackle a thorny issue. When you start a project, you must select the appropriate consulting firm. If you listened to my previous episode, “How to Identify the Right Consultants,” you know that several criteria may be used to describe consultants, such as skills, industry expertise, delivery model, and so on.
One of the markers is the footprint of the consulting firm. A first glance, a global project is calling for a global consultancy. But is it always true?
 I’ll make my point.
Let’s start with an anecdote.
A few years ago, I was working with a French consulting firm specialized in strategy & operations. We were working on a project to improve their client’s productivity, an industrial client with factories in Europe (mainly France and Germany) and the United States. We decided to audit one of the factories because it was having trouble performing. The decision was made to dispatch a German professional. The outcome was devastating. The customer was furious, and the project had to be terminated halfway through.
What happened exactly?
There wasn’t a cultural fit beyond the loss in translation. Every country has its managerial culture, business etiquette, communication preferences, etc. However, when executives in most global companies are exposed to cultural differences, this is not the case for employees on the factory floor.
When you work on a productivity project that often rhymes with reorganization and lay-offs, you know you will sometimes face a hostile crowd at some point. Therefore, you cannot afford to create communication problems that could easily be avoided.
But it’s easy to point the finger at only one party. The consulting firm did choose the wrong consultant for the task. But it was a small boutique with somewhat limited bandwidth. Nevertheless, they did their best to staff the project with the best experts at their disposal.
However, the client made far more severe blunders.
Working on a global project with a tiny boutique without checking the availability of the right experts in advance.
And leaving carte blanche to the project leader to staff the team without assessing the culture fit beforehand.
They might hide behind their lack of knowledge of consulting and the subject matter at hand, but this is just a deflection of responsibility. But let’s go back to outsourcing 101: the client needs to understand the elements they outsource, keep control and measure the performance…
I see you rolling your eyes. Yes, I am back to my pet peeve… But actually, let’s focus on the first part of the statement: “understand the elements they outsource”… Any outsourcing done without this condition is half done. But more importantly, you expose your business to potential risks.
So let’s go back to the initial question: “Do you always need global consultants for global projects?”
And I will use my older son’s favorite question: “Define global.”
Let me take an example: imagine working on global megatrends for your Home & Personal Care Busines Units. You want to identify the commonalities between the different regions and the particular trends in emerging markets such as China. This project is indeed global. Or is it? Maybe so, maybe no.
Let me explain. It will depend on your organization, the level of collaboration of the consultants with your teams, and the depth of knowledge you are looking for. Besides, are you interested in some bottom-up analysis?
You get it. What matters here is not the scope of the project itself. Think instead about the locations where they need to be physically present, the languages they need to speak, the cultures they need to understand, and where and how they need to communicate with the project leaders.
Let’s look at another example now. A large company based in Europe wants to define new procedures and ways of working for their marketing strategy function. The project will start with defining the targetted systems and then the implementation in the different regions. The company has strategic marketing teams in France, the US, Brazil, and Singapore.
Funny enough, there is no one-fits-all solution. Another of my pet peeves. That underlines the complexity of buying consulting. And also because I love this expression: there is no equivalent in French.
Most clients would look for one single consulting firm for the whole project. It can be relevant if you have little bandwidth or want to keep tight control on the implementation. But this solution comes with a premium. Indeed, global consultancies tend to be more expensive, up to 5 fold, than boutiques.
Besides, many large consulting firms work with regional P&Ls. Which means that they’d instead fly over their consultants rather than cooperate with their local offices.  But extra costs can reach 25-30% of your project’s original budget when the consultants come from a great distance. So you can end up with a costly undertaking.
Before deciding on this option, take the time to evaluate the pros and cons, particularly the return on investment.
But there is another route. You could split your project into two phases: definition & implementation. First, work with a specialized consulting firm on the definition, based close to your headquarters, and then implement the initiative with your teams or with several local consultancies.
Of course, this option requires enough people to hire and supervise the different consulting firms and some level of decentralization. But at the end of the day, you might get a better return on investment.
But it can be done. Actually, this project is a real one. My clients decided to hire local consultancies, and the results were entirely satisfactory. They pulled it out of the bag again for an organization project a few years later, hiring a consultancy to handle the implementation process. But this company had a very decentralized culture with business units organized as stand-alone businesses. They were used to making decisions and paying for them, as long as they could justify their decision. So it perfectly fit with this project.
The thing is: the way your company is organized and the culture of your teams will impact your decision.
What do these two anecdotes teach us?
I would say two things:
First, there is no one-fits-all solution to solve your problem.
When you want to launch a project to solve an issue, you can start by evaluating the opportunity to use internal resources (or perform a make-or-buy analysis if we’re going to use big procurement words).
The analysis could lead you to go for an internal team, hire external consultants or go for a hybrid solution.
Therefore, the right solution will depend on your goals, your resources, your budget, and other things.
Second, the parameters to consider when hiring consultants go way beyond the scope of the project. Your organization, your company culture, and your availability or willingness to supervise projects, for instance, should also impact your choices.
Mistakes happen because of poor judgments. And while I am in favor of holding consultants accountable for their outcomes, I believe that procurement buyers and project sponsors should take their share of the blame as well.
Procuring consulting services is not rocket science.  But it’s not easy either. I find that many buyers are unaware of the complexity of buying consulting services. That is why they often choose to work with big global consultancies instead of taking the time to find a good fit for their projects. And this can lead to major issues down the line.
Of course, there is no magic potion or single solution that fits all companies’ problems, but there is now at least one way out of hell: find the right partner!
If you need consulting services, determining how to find consultants can be a complicated task. Selecting which consultants to work with based on their quality, approach, responsiveness, and costs is not always easy. In addition, consultants’ geographical location or cultural fit could push your final decision one way or another. Before the hiring process starts, you can find the perfect consultant for your project by doing thorough research.
That’s where our episode ends. Next week, I’ll talk about how to lead a make-or-buy analysis for a consulting project
 
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!

Podcast | How to evaluate the quality of a consultant?

It’s not easy to find a consulting firm that meets all of your criteria, but it’s well worth the effort! By following this straightforward process, you’ll find the best fit for you and your project.
On this week’s Smart consulting Sourcing podcast, I tell you how to evaluate the quality of a consultant.
Key Takeaway: Identify what is important for you. The goal of an Evaluation system is to make sure that the Consulting Firms are delivering according to your expectations. But what are your expectations? What are the key success factors for a Consulting Project? Is it the quality of the delivery? The expertise of the team? The impact delivered?

Transcript
 
Hello and welcome to episode 62 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 tell you how to evaluate the quality of a consultant
Last week, I explained how to qualify a consulting firm for a project
We saw that Having a list of consulting firms perfect on paper is not enough to qualify them for a project. You need to find out how real they are. You can’t just “go with your gut” here. A thorough reference check is the only way to make sure this consultancy is right for you.
It’s not easy to find a consulting firm that meets all of your criteria, but it’s well worth the effort! By following the right process, you’ll be able to find the best fit for you and your project.
But today let’s talk about performance.
Is it worth measuring the performance of Consulting Services? Many consulting firms will tell you that there’s no need to analyze performance any further as long as consumers continue to buy. Is this truly the case?
In most procurement categories, the purchased goods’ receipt and inspection are key steps in the process. When the product is damaged or not compliant with the requirements, it will be rejected. When the product is compliant but not satisfying, the provider’s contract will not be renewed. When a supplier is subject to numerous claims, it will be removed from the panel. It is the ultimate penalty in the Automotive Industry, for instance.
Surprisingly, despite the significant amounts at stake, 57 % of companies don’t have a systematic Performance Evaluation system for the Consulting Category. And as the cobbler’s son often has the worst shoes, even consulting firms don’t necessarily have a robust system for measuring customer satisfaction. They realize the client was unhappy when the account is lost. Quite an accurate measure of satisfaction, but maybe we can do better.
You know the saying: If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.
Consulting Firms are craving for feedback to engage in a continuous improvement process and monitor their relationship with their clients. And their clients are expecting them to listen to them and improve their ways of working. So why are these conversations not taking place?
Executives often see Consulting Services as a black box. Intangible Services, like consulting, are challenging to handle, and measurement can be tricky. It seems impossible to translate impact or trust into metrics. But companies know from experience that even intangible objectives can be measured. Since Peter Drucker has popularized management by objectives in the 50s, it became a standard in General Management. SMART objectives[1] are used across the board to help employees have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities.
The same can apply to Consulting Services. When you hire a Consulting Firm, you have some expectations such as the quality of the deliverables, the ability to understand your business, build trust with the stakeholders, etc.
Why not measure the achievement of these objectives?
Let me tell you another saying that I like a lot: Without data, you are just another person with an opinion.
Consultants are kings for building elaborate dashboards, KPIs, and management systems to track improvement performance. But, strangely, they rarely taste their own medicine. As a result, management consulting remains an informal business when measuring and proving its own impact.
Implementing a systematic Performance Evaluation specific to Consulting Services is a cornerstone of the Consulting Category management. The benefits can be seen at different time horizons.
In the short term, you can use it to trigger a post-mortem analysis. In other words, when a project is over you’ll be able to find quickly what went well and what did not go well in order to find out which lessons can be learned from it.
The beginning of the implementation can be rocky. However, being attentive to feedback from the main departments or business lines using consulting can help procurement identify the Consulting Firm with performance issues and gather the necessary information to build the right improvement plan.
Mid Term: At this stage the entire organization will have a better understanding of how this service contributes to success or failure. A systematic approach means that each team member is involved in the process and has a shared understanding of the purpose of their contributions.
Longitudinal tracking of your providers’ performance is the only objective way to monitor the providers, benchmark their performance, and identify high and low performers: three essential elements to keep a fluid Preferred Supplier List. This analysis will also help you to identify capabilities with insufficient performance. In fact, you can be very well equipped in Marketing and struggling on the innovation front.
Long Term: This information is valuable throughout the year on several levels: you have now an opportunity to benchmark with previous projects and you can measure KPIs across teams within your own business unit.
The purpose of aligning your Consulting Spend with your Strategy is to maximize the Value for Money you invest in consulting. Year-Long performance evaluation of your Consulting Projects’ impact will help you validate your decisions and make sure the money has been well spent with the expected impact.
Don’t forget that you can evaluate the performance at all stages of a Consulting Assignment. Mid-project assessments are a healthy practice on very large projects. Otherwise, post-mortem analysis might well be aptly named.
What do you need to measure? You have built or used a Performance Evaluation System before. It is not rocket science. Keep in mind a few common-sense tips:
Identify what is important for you. The goal of an Evaluation system is to make sure that the Consulting Firms are delivering according to your expectations. But what are your expectations? What are the key success factors for a Consulting Project? Is it the quality of the delivery? The expertise of the team? The impact delivered?
Consistency is key. You can decide to have a specific assessment for each project based on the key deliverables. However, if you want to leverage benchmarking, you have to find the right granularity to build a standardized evaluation. Also, you need to use it on a systematic basis to create statistical relevance. You may also want to use third parties in performance measurement.
Think human. Don’t forget that the driver for a Consulting Project’s success is very often the Partner or the Project Manager in charge. His knowledge, expertise, and behavior are what you are assessing for your project. You can decide to assess the performance of each consultant in the team – pretty time consuming, with little impact for you – up to the performance of a company as a whole on the project – which can make sense for a small consulting firm but is more questionable for a big 4.
When you are building your questionnaire, don’t forget to include a Consulting Project’s soft aspects. The ability to build trust, create buy-in or transfer knowledge, for instance, are things that you might want to look at depending on the project’s purpose.
Do not hesitate to ask for feedback on how the project unfolded and what your company could have done better. Some companies will be very sharp in expressing their needs but fail in achieving internal alignment. Some others might struggle to formulate what they want or define unrealistic requirements (time or budget-wise). Capturing this feedback will help you to increase progressively your capacity to use and manage consultants.
Evaluating the performance of your consulting projects will give the keys to improve the value of your investment, and the satisfaction of your internal clients. Others will claim that consulting is intangible, making it impossible to quantify, but this is merely a pretext to prevent change. Other domains have succeeded in defining solid evaluation systems for intangible results.
And this concludes our episode. Next time, I will try to answer the question: do you always need global consultants for global projects?
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!

5 Mistakes When Sourcing Consultants You Should Avoid

5 Mistakes When Sourcing Consultants You Should Avoid

People make many mistakes when sourcing consultants, and it can be challenging to avoid them all. The following are five of the most common mistakes that people make when sourcing consultants.

5 Mistakes When Sourcing Consultants You Should Avoid
Overlooking the scoping.
One of the most cliche mistakes is not defining your expectations properly before discussing them with a consultant. It is easy to get caught up in excitement about their potential abilities that you forget why you needed them in the first place. As a result, you might end up with a project that doesn’t answer your needs. It is a waste of your time and your money.

READ ALSO
This guide will walk you through 4 steps that will help assess any consulting proposals you may receive in the future!

Most consulting firms I know love nothing more than a well-defined RFP, with minimal back and forth with the client for fine-tuning. Why? Because working on the requirements is an investment for the consultants and is rarely compensated.
Furthermore, a poor scope of work may lead to difficulties throughout the project: misinterpretation of expectations, bill disputes, and staff shortages.
Being transparent to the point of naivete
You must provide enough information about your firm, its sector, and the assignment’s context so that the consultancy can better comprehend the issue and propose tailored solutions.
You may also offer pointers on the budget and the anticipated timeline, so they don’t waste time considering numerous options. With a similar high-level scope of work, one consultancy may produce tens of diverse approaches.
But at the same time, you should keep the consulting firms on their toes until actually signing a contract with them. You don’t want to hand them all your bargaining chips at the beginning.
Don’t be afraid of negotiating but understand the link between scope, staffing, and price.
Working with the wrong consultants
Don’t use personal referrals as the only source for finding out who you want to hire. Indeed, you need to avoid using consultants who do not have experience or expertise related to your industry or company.
For example, if you’re launching a strategy project, don’t hire someone who has never let strategy projects before. On the other hand, if your firm is in the Agrobusiness industry and you need a consultant that understands the specificities of your sector, don’t ask consultants specialized in other sectors, even if they are strategy experts.
Be sure to hire consultants with the right skills for the right assignment! Hiring people outside their area of expertise can lead to disastrous results and might also be expensive if they need support from junior staff or other specialists.
Try not to look for miracle consultants either. There is very little chance you will find the consulting firm that fits your laundry list of expectations. Prioritize your needs. And if it is not enough, meet several consultancies to assess which approach would better solve your challenge.
Don’t forget about internal resources before purchasing external assistance. Though hiring consultants may often seem like the only solution at first glance, it’s important not to lose sight that there are many ways within your company itself to address specific issues.
Taking their claims at face value.
There is no right or wrong way to check references. Remember that sometimes consultants themselves are not entirely forthcoming when asked about their work history, so again, do not limit yourself to asking them directly!
Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions. However, if the consulting firm is unwilling to provide references and other information, you should probably take your business elsewhere!
Build a list of questions that are relevant to your project and your company. For instance, are your priorities… Their expertise? Their ability to build relationships? Their project management skills? Their ability to deliver impact?
Here is a simple method to ensure the references are suitable:

Real: Check the background of the referrals

Relevant: Make sure the projects mentioned have similarities with yours

Recent: The project was finished recently (usually less than 3 years)

Related: The reference concerns the project manager or the team 

Checking references will allow you to minimize the risks and maximize the impact of your project.
Disengaging once the consultant is hired.
When sourcing consultants, the bulk of the work begins after the ink has dried on the contract. You must keep track of and manage the project’s outcomes, as well as the project itself. Consulting projects seldom go according to plan.
Managing a consulting project is first and foremost managing a project. To maximize the chances of success of your project, you will need to address three elements: Stakeholders, Project, and Change.
Please don’t wait until the project is over to analyze its performance. And communicate your findings with the consultants. The reasons for poor performance can be numerous and simultaneous. For example, it might stem from the Consulting Firm (capabilities, skills, experience, etc.) or your teams (low priority, staffing, …).
In any case, it’s usually best to sit down with the Consulting Firm and figure out the problem together.
You must also manage the relationship with external consultants when you work with them. To begin, you’ll need to keep track of changes in the project that impact scope, staffing, timing, and unanticipated events.
If the modifications are significant, you should consider amending the contract. In any case, keep track of the changes in the Steering Committees’ minutes.
Consider the consulting firm as your partner with a shared objective: the completion of your project. Be adamant about the quality of the results. Give them feedback on their performance, as well as visibility on payments.
In the end, sourcing a consultant is an investment in your company. And as with any investment, it pays to do some research before you decide and manage the project. The good news? That’s what we’re here for! We’ve talked about 5 mistakes executives often make when they source consultants and how not to repeat them. If you’re still struggling, though, don’t hesitate to reach out – our team of experts is ready and waiting to partner with you on sourcing the right consulting partners to solve your challenges. So which mistake have you made while sourcing consultants?

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Hélène Laffitte

Co-founder & CEO at Consulting Quest

Hélène is the author of Smart Consulting Sourcing, a step by step guide to getting the best ROI from your Consuting. You can follow @helenelaffitte on Twitter.

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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.

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Consulting sourcing tips

Podcast | What is consulting?

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Consulting Procurement or Procurement Consulting?

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Podcast | How to qualify a consulting firm for a project?

There are several markers that define the “Consulting DNA” of a company: the obvious capability & industry experience, but also the footprint, culture, and delivery model.
On this week’s Smart consulting Sourcing podcast, I tell you how to qualify a consulting firm for a project.
Key Takeaway: Having a list of consulting firms perfect on paper is not enough to qualify them for a project. You need to find out how real they are. You can’t just “go with your gut” here. A thorough reference check is the only way to find solid practice.It’s not easy to find a consulting firm that meets all of your criteria, but it’s well worth the effort! By following this straightforward process, you’ll find the best fit for you and your project.

Transcript
 
Hello and welcome to episode 61 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 tell you how to qualify a consulting firm for a project
Last week, I explained how to find the right consultants
We saw that your first step is to define what you are looking for. There are several markers that define the “Consulting DNA” of a company: the obvious capability & industry experience, but also the footprint, culture, and delivery model.
But building a list of potential Consulting firms is just the first stage in the process. A Consulting Firm might look like a perfect match on paper, but there is only one way to know if they have the right skills, industry experience, and project experience: talk to them!
So you need to put up a list of potential players. And the size of your project will determine the length of your list.
Consider including around fifteen to twenty firms in your first search if you need to find a mid-sized project and compare three prospective suppliers.
When I perform a search, I usually end up with 30% of the firms that don’t have a suitable “Consulting DNA Profile” and 30% that aren’t interested or available for the project as a baseline.
When you have finished compiling your first list, you need now to have a closer look at their characteristics to make sure they have the right profile.
Even though numerous consultancy firms claim to have competence in all capabilities in every sector, their track record shows it’s not true. Most of them, often tiny boutiques, specialize in just one capability or sector where they obtain most of their business. So, examine the case studies or previous projects listed on the firm’s website carefully.
Look also at the company’s previous clients: Who are they, and what do they do?
The background of the company’s founders is another valuable clue to the company’s primary objective, especially for tiny firms. But, first, take a look at the management team.
In their brochures or websites, most Consulting Firms will state their purpose or methodology. You’ll learn about who they are and how they operate. Are they focusing on high-level Strategy rather than implementation consulting? Are they working more on hard or soft aspects? Are they long-term consultants or former executives with prior corporate experience?
These elements will provide you with an understanding of who these consulting firms are and how they would interact with your organization.
Don’t just call any consultant, especially if the consulting firm is rather large. Each Partner comes with a unique set of talents and expertise, which will influence your project.
Consulting organizations are generally divided into industry experience or capabilities (when not both). They may also list the leadership team on their website with their contact information. If not, you should be able to find partners and check out their profiles using LinkedIn.
Thought leadership is also a handy tool. Check for papers or white papers on the subject of your project. The names of the authors and their contact information are often included in the materials.
Make sure they are working for the right firm by checking their present position on LinkedIn. The turnover in consulting is breathtaking; you may be one company behind. After that, you’ll probably add a few consulting firms to your list.
You should now have a list of consulting businesses that appear to have the proper people with the appropriate skills in the right locations. Your next move is to contact them and check their interest and availability face-to-face.
Three factors must be discussed in person: interest, availability, and compatibility. Next, connect with the consulting partners you’ve identified to schedule a call or a meeting after you’ve finished your list.
Here are a few pointers that you can use for these calls:

Listen to them. They’ll describe what they do and how they accomplish it. You’ll discover more about their culture, methodologies, and area of specialty.

Examine your list of criteria to verify whether they are a suitable match.

Avoid giving out too much information about the project. It’s still an exploratory call rather than a briefing, and you haven’t signed an NDA yet. However, you may describe the skills and previous work experience you’re searching for, as well as some information regarding the team in charge of the project.

Give them insight into the project’s likeliness to be launched and timeframe.

Give them a general sense of the budget. You don’t have to give a precise number, but you may let them know if you only have a small amount of money or if it’s a major project for your firm.

It is also critical to test your hypotheses and make sure they are interested in the project you want to start. It’s also a good time to see whether they’ll be able to commit and have the bandwidth for the endeavor.
Once you’ve completed that stage, talk with the project’s sponsor and leader to pick which of these businesses you want to include in your RFP.
After you’ve chosen a handful of consulting companies and begun the RFP process, the final stage is to verify their references. Don’t be fooled by the big display of logos in the presentations or the case studies on the website, which are both anonymous. Request at least two referrals for the project.
Take the time to contact the references and ask the appropriate questions. You may begin by listing the qualities that are most important to you, such as knowledge transfer, team collaboration, or company impact, for example. Make sure you ask all of your references and consulting firms the same questions. You can add a few customized questions to clarify some grey areas.
Consultants have a high turnover rate, with studies showing that it ranges from 15% to 20%. Partners and consultants move from one consulting firm to the next, get hired by clients, or start their own consultancy. Whole teams are replaced every 4 to 5 years by new talent.
A cutting-edge organization practice gathered brilliant people from all over the world in a top 10 Consulting Firm in 2012. Unfortunately, all the consultants had departed five years later, but the firm maintained the white papers and references in their presentations.
The leadership of your project and the experts involved are crucial aspects of success for a consulting engagement. Request references for the key team members. They must have been actively involved in the projects mentioned.
Make sure the reference is relevant.
First, it must be genuine. Don’t “duh” too quickly; we’ve seen consulting firms send the names of their former employees as references. To verify that they are actual persons and have held relevant jobs, check the reference’s name, position, and background.
Second, it must be on a project with similarities to yours. It may be a project with a comparable context, methodology, or industry. You want to make sure the consulting firm understands how to execute your project.
Third, the reference has to be current—the more recent, the better. Set a time limit (no more than five years is reasonable). The rate of progress in every sector and area has accelerated over the years. A project successfully led fifteen years ago may not tell us much about what would happen today.
You’ll want excellent references from the experts that they’ve made a significant contribution to their client’s company. It will also provide you with some data on their performance on the various dimensions crucial in your decision.
If you’ve chosen cultural fit as an important element of your project’s selection criteria, investigate how the consultants interacted with the teams and how they adapted to potential cultural differences.
Don’t accept compromises on the references. If the consulting firm is using confidentiality as a pretext to avoid reference checking, call Consulting Quest, we are a third-party expert and we can verify the credentials for you.
Having a list of consulting firms perfect on paper is not enough to qualify them for a project.  You need to find out how real they are. You can’t just “go with your gut” here. A thorough reference check is the only way to determine the performance of a consulting firm.
It’s not easy to find a consulting firm that meets all of your criteria, but it’s well worth the effort! By following this straightforward process, you’ll find the best fit for you and your project.
I spent a little time this week on the importance of checking references. In a way, you will need to get some measure of performance on similar projects. It is not very different from measuring the performance of your own consulting projects. And that’ll be the focus of next week’s episode: how to evaluate the quality of a consultant?
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.comYou 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!

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  • Knowing the Consulting Industry
  • Spending on the right Consulting Projects
  • Managing the Consulting Sourcing Process
  • Defining the Needs and Finding a Consultant
  • Contracting and Managing the Consulting Project
  • Managing The Consulting Category