Consulting services companies in the consumer goods industry are trying to differentiate themselves as the market constantly changes. The shift spans from implementing ERP to installing analytics. Today, it is hard to differentiate, and many of these deals are largely based on relationships. Here, Supply Chain Insights Founder, Lora Cecere further discusses these shifts and how to get the best talent among ongoing changes.
Can you comment on this list?
Cecere: With the belt tightening in 2015, there are few major projects and consultants are already feeling the pinch. Accompanying this is the need for small iterative projects, as well as building test and learn capabilities. As a result, this requires a shift in talent and rethinking business models.
Within the consulting landscape, the shifts of partners from one firm to another are large, as the consulting firms redefine their strategies. The large ERP projects are winding down to a close, and the impact is substantial.
The consulting list here as chosen by consumer goods readers is the list that I would expect, however there are three conspicuous absences: Clarkson Consulting, Ernst and Young (E&Y), andKPMG. The consulting firms listed here, plus these three, have invested deeply in the consumer products space.
How would you characterize investment in this area? What other trends are affecting the consulting landscape?
Cecere: Another change that is affecting this market is a shift away from business process outsourcing. The pendulum is swinging back on outsourcing. Why? The labor wage differences are less than they have been in the past, and the level of expertise that companies expected with outsourcing have not been met.
The disappointment is particularly acute in the area of supplier resource management (SRM) and call center management. While outsourcing for data management — master data management and demand insights continues — manufacturers are beginning to bring core processes back under tighter control.
Can you share some best practices for working with consultants?
Cecere: For the buyers of solutions in this space, it has never been a better time to get the best talent at a fair price. Consultants are hungry and the competition is stiff. They are each struggling to define a unique space.
Accenture has the Accenture Supply Chain Academy, and Capgemini has the Accelerated Solutions Environment (ASE) and Accelerated Solutions Network (ASN), and Infosys has the Advanced Learning Center for analytics, expanding its capabilities for analytics and other service offerings on Microsoft technologies.
While they each offer these various programs, the differences between the consulting firms are lessening as the market becomes more competitive. For all, it is a new day, a new game, and a tougher field of play.