Few Simple Points for a Faster and Smarter Decision on Your Make or Buy Consulting Dilemma
“Whenever you see a successful business, someone has made a courageous decision.” – Peter F. Drucker
To help you decide whether it is better to make or buy your consulting, or in other words, to use your Internal or External resources, always focus on the benefits and the specifics of the particular project. Companies, constrained by limited operations budgets, must carefully prioritize and efficiently organize their projects, which may include external consulting services.
1. What are the different options for your project?
Launching a project with Internal resources is top of mind for any executive. It means keeping the costs at a minimum and optimizing the use of your internal skills and resources.
But this option can very quickly reach its limits if the project team is not given the appropriate time and responsibilities to lead the project efficiently. Moreover, because the leaders of internal projects are often high-potentials on the leadership fast track, they find it challenging to push boundaries and confront the more established leaders and influencers who hold the key to their careers.
Assigning an independent task force can bring focus, speed, and pressure to the table, which is sometimes enough for the success of a project.
As an executive and an organization, you are always finding ways to add value to your product, improve processes, productivity, and revenues.
2. Simple steps to solve the Make or buy dilemma-
Most companies and their procurement function work to optimize their external spend and their pool of suppliers to better support the overall strategy. They have developed methods for answering a variety of difficult 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 overall strategy of the enterprise.
3. Helping executives make faster and smarter decisions when buying Consulting services –
When it comes to making decisions about consultants, executives often fall back on word of mouth, on perceptions of the reputations of various providers, and on the fancy claims of the consultants themselves. Also, 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 broader strategy of the company.
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.
4. Advantages of using External consultants –
Because they are very familiar with the problem, these Consultants can usually solve it more efficiently and at less cost than Internal resources. They can also make up for lack of internal resources and flexibility that prevents internal personnel from being diverted from their regular jobs.
How can your company utilize the expertise of Consultants?
Clients may also want to use consultants for broader purposes than the project itself. These could include training of executives on new skills, introducing external change agents, learning best practices in the industry or a capability, exposing the organization to a fresh perspective, or relying on the stamp of a recognized consulting brand to reassure board members or investors.
But even under those conditions, hiring external consultants is not always the best solution. For example, consulting services that meet your needs may not be available in your industry or your country.
On the other hand, leading an internal project can be tricky. The internal team may be unaware of the latest trends in the industry or capability. They may waste time reinventing already well-established improvement methodologies, resulting in longer projects and higher overall costs. Again, the fact that the team members are part of the company can make it difficult to disrupt the established order.
5. Hybrid Execution – The Best of both worlds –
And maybe to achieve the best performance, we need to look at the middle. There is a middle path that can bring you the best of the two worlds: a hybrid execution. There might be parts of the projects that can be isolated as stand-alone workstreams, where confidentiality or service availability will not be a challenge. You can then, under the direction of a highly-experienced project leader, outsource parts of your projects and keep in-house the rest.
6. Centralizing the Category as an important initial step –
It’s critical to be able to monitor your budget, and centralizing the Category will provide that capability. Some companies have responded to what is mostly a ‘Make or buy’ dilemma by centralizing Consulting procurement. The aim is to have a more global vision of consulting efforts, better understanding of the costs, and more powerful levers for negotiating volume discounts and creating synergies across functions and business units. Recognizing that Consulting is an accelerator of change, these companies make Consulting Management the responsibility of the head of Strategy or a Transformation leader. Generally, putting the accountability of the Consulting Budget and, therefore, the monitoring of the Consulting Expenses, close to the group in charge of the Strategy, is the right move. This team needs to define what are the rules when procuring Consulting Services. Demand management, Make or Buy strategy, and Consulting Spend analysis should go through them to ensure alignment with the overall strategy and their consistency across the board.
Ready to launch your next project?
Need a fresh point of view? We will be happy to help.
Please give us a call today, at no obligation, to get the conversation started
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.