In-House, Big Consultants or a Boutique Firm?

May 20, 2011
May 20, 2011 Duncan

At the inaugural IBF London meet-up on Tuesday ( to hear an interesting presentation from the Business Integration Manager at McCormick (UK) Ltd. on the efforts they have been making to improve demand planning and S&OP within their business. One of the topics which came up in the pub later was whether it was best for businesses to try and do everything themselves, use a big team from a large consultancy or work with a specialist consultancy.

As usual no one size fits all!

Doing it in-house gives you great buy-in – you own your process and one of the fundamentals of change management is that people support what they have contributed to, BUT it can take a long time as we heard from McCormick, and sometimes the internal expert is ‘the prophet without honour in their own land’. Senior management may listen better to the external expert. On the coaching side too, the external consultant can give challenging messages about behaviour to senior management, which the internal team will shy away from.

Getting in a large consultancy is the opposite extreme. Providing you can pay, you will get lots of resource, lots of structure, more speed and an IT application as part of the project.  However you will get a supply chain and/or systems perspective on S&OP/IBP, rather than a business perspective, and there is often a ‘packaged’ or ‘checklist’ approach to ensure the project can be repeated in other clients.  Then there is the general criticism of the big consultancies – you see the partner during the sales pitch, and occasionally thereafter, but what you get during the project is a team of junior consultants learning at your expense.  Finally in stark contrast to the ‘doing it in-house approach’ there is the ‘not invented here’ syndrome. “They flew in, railroaded through their version of S&OP/IBP and disappeared leaving us with the problem”.

The boutique consultancy approach is different – but obviously not for everyone. The value here is in combining the ownership (and cost) benefits of doing most of the work in-house with the best of the external consultant benefits – time to value, deep expertise in the field, an independent voice, senior management respect, ideas, methodologies and the call to action etc., but without the huge team of junior consultants.

With StrataBridge who you see is who you get. Partners only, internationally recognised specialists (and, we like to think, pretty good guys too!), who will work with you to make your ideal world your real world. So if you want an informal chat about how we might be able to help you, please give us a call.

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