Strategy buying guide

November 22, 2016 Jorge Zazueta

This guide gives you details of the main kind of scenario you are likely to encounter, where you will need a consultant to deliver a strategy project for you. It will explain the advantages of the different skills and experience of the consultants available on our platform. 

How do I know that I have a strategy project?

Strategy crafting is not a recurring activity for most organizations and with increasingly limited resources, execution naturally takes priority. The result is a lean team focused on delivering ongoing value that—more often, than not—is being pulled in many different directions at once. Some of these directions pointing towards strategy projects.

Beyond crafting the right strategy, it is important to assess it and properly communicate it to all stakeholders not only for clarity, but as an important step in developing ownership and accountability. Proper implementation demands a roadmap and carefully designed metrics that can be efficiently tracked and are aligned with the right players. Attempting to staff those skills permanently can be both frustrating and costly.

A more sensible approach is to work with a core internal team and complement it with external resources as-needed. Providing flexibility and significantly expanding your available talent pool while lowering cost; as specialised consulting talent can be tailored to the project at hand.

Key considerations when choosing a consultant

A strategy project demands a variety of skills ranging from researching and option modelling to articulating and communicating value to stakeholders and, of course, implementing and managing it. Some projects lend themselves to be completed by a small team throughout their lifecycle while more complex ones might benefit from different levels and types of expertise and experience at each stage.

How to plan and create a brief for your strategy project

Think modularly - the key to a successful strategy is that it emerges from within the organisation, incorporating its resources and capabilities as well as its culture. The role of consultants is to facilitate this emergence by providing expertise and specialised knowledge along with an objective outsider perspective. Some projects can benefit from a versatile consultant who can provide guidance and consistency throughout the process, while others can leverage help for different aspects, or modules, of the process. With the internal team at the core, modularity can help you in two ways:

  1. As a complementary competence during the whole project.
  2. As a specialised function at a given stage.

Maybe the internal team has a strong hold on strategy development, but needs support crafting the message and developing powerful presentations as the process progresses, or maybe the team can be best served during the initial phase by engaging an expert on financial modelling and simulation or at the final stages by fine tuning KPIs and governance.

To take full advantage of modularity and tailor your talent investment to perfectly fit your strategy project needs, it is useful to break out the project by competency needs through its lifecycle. Think of it as a tile with different sized rectangles representing talent depth as height and duration as length, giving you a clear visual indication on what competencies you need, for how long and when you need them. It also helps you pinpoint which of those competency needs can be delivered by the core team and which are best delegated to an external consultant.

What should your consultant look like?

Once you define which competencies are needed at each stage to complement your core team, is time to hire a consultant—or a few.

When choosing a candidate is important to think in terms of competencies, rather than skills. Being good at MS Excel or understanding how to perform Discounted Cash Flow Analysis (DCFA) are skills. Being able to independently put together an analytical model that leverages DCFA and is implemented in MS Excel is a competency.

While the ideal consultant should obviously be technically competent, it is vital to evaluate candidates holistically, so that their contribution is better assimilated and even synergistic.

The 4 competency categories to look for in a strategy consultant

We suggest looking at four competency categories supported by relevant professional experience.

  • Technical competency is at the centre of the selection process as it strengthens the team’s ability to deliver results. By doing this modularly, it is possible—and affordable—to summon a wide range of experts to complement the team at every stage.
  • Communication is an indispensable tool for a consultant to be effective. Being an external resource, often working remotely, poor communication can break a project despite of technical expertise.
  • Managerial talent includes Project Management; prioritization skills and critical thinking. As an external party, it is essential than the expert can cope effectively with tight deadlines and competing priorities.
  • The Social dimension of consulting is frequently underestimated. But influencing others without authority and pushing stakeholders out of their comfort zones is easier on a built relationship.
  • Relevant Experience binds together these four competencies and lends credibility to the expert. Similar project work within the same industry provide comfort to the core team, but sometimes exploring beyond the immediate environment can power up that outsider’s perspective so valuable in a consultant.

3 reasons on demand consultants are better for your strategy project

  1. By their nature, strategy projects demand a wide range of ad hoc competencies that would be difficult to maintain internally in most of today’s lean organizations. Tapping into on demand expertise not only resolves the issue, but provides a much richer set of resources.
  2. Using on demand consultants from Talmix to resource for your project allows access to a broader and deeper talent pool than a traditional route to consultancy, such as your own network or a firm, could.
  3. To stay lean and get your strategy project off the ground quickly you need a process that moves fast – an on demand consultant from Talmix can be found, briefed and hired in just four days!

About the Author

Jorge Zazueta

Jorge has 20+ years of combined industry and consulting experience working on a broad gamut of areas from finance and capital planning to procurement and operations in more than ten countries, developing a pragmatic perspective that allows him to craft innovative strategies that recognize the complexity of real world operations. During his professional life, Jorge has helped his clients achieve cumulative savings of hundreds of millions of dollars though efficiency improvements and optimized operating models.

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