I have no faith in management consultants — how are Bespoke Performance Solutions different?
We understand that you may well have unfavorable perceptions of management consultants, very possibly based on experience. Our clients however do not have this view; they value the highly personal, dependable and beneficial relationship that they enjoy with us.
I need to be sure that any outside help is good value; can Bespoke Performance Solutions guarantee that together we will get results?
We are very focused on results and are happy to demonstrate this commitment through arrangements where we share the financial risk. Commercial discussions are ongoing through the engagement and we encourage collective challenge of value for money.
The Bespoke Performance Solutions Company Vision and Principles speak of “long term relationships with clients”; I can see why BPS might want one, I’m less sure what is in it for me?
We believe that the “tools and training” approach and the “hit and run” style intervention with which it is often associated, offer poor value in the long run. Our premise is that a good understanding of the context of your organisation is vital in developing improvement work that delivers significant and sustainable benefit. Having that understanding of your organisation’s culture, your people, the nature of the challenges and the perspective of your customers results in a much more effective and cost efficient client-consultant collaboration.
Long-term the relationships may be, but intensive, continuous and expensive they are not; our model of engagement is to co-design value adding interventions that build the capability of your people, facilitate a steady-state rate of improvement at which stage we get out of your way! Our mark of success is that performance continues to improve long after we have left, without the need for further external input. In that way, the next time your organisation needs some assistance in some other area you will have no need or justification to shop around for help; in us you have a trusted and reliable partner who also arrives on day one with a good understanding of your organisation.
Consultants are expensive, right and at what cost improvement?
Day Rates for the senior ranks of big firm consultancies can be quite staggering (£2,000 to £5,000). At these levels no one is going to argue that they are cheap, this however won’t stop such organisations extolling them as being “good value”. These consultancies have considerable overheads and often measure the performance of their people on delivering back to the organisation four or five times their salary in fee’s each year.
Compare that if you will with independent consultants (very often the same individuals who used to work for the big consultancies) who, working from a modest or even home-based office have few if any support workers, let alone an executive hierarchy and city stock traders to finance. The Result? You pay for the service you receive and not anything else.
Some would argue that the resources (knowledge and people) that such large organisations can call upon makes them the “only choice”; for some huge assignments. This is quite possibly true. However, independent consultancies such as ourselves work in very effective networks of associates, that can quickly establish sizable teams with both depth and breadth.
What is the cost of your people?
£65k Salary + Company car or cash equivalent £8k, Bonus say £6.5k + Employers pension contributions £3.25k + NI Contributions £6k, £1k health insurance + £5k training & CPD + not to mention the costs associated with office, administration, communications and IT support … for that £65,000 employee you very quickly end up at a number fast approaching £100k.
Now lets look at the number of working days per year: Well that’s easy, it’s 260…or is it? Don’t forget the 5 weeks holiday, the 8 bank holidays, 10 days out for training, 7 days sickness, compassion, etc. From 260 you get down to the ‘real’ figure of 210 or so.
So the real daily rate of your £65k executive or manager, is something in the order of £475 a day… more than you were expecting? It can come as bit of a shock! Do not forget that we have also assumed in our calculation that recruitment costs you nothing and you carry no liability should you have to make him/her redundant.
What is Systems Thinking?
In this context, Systems Thinking is a management discipline that helps people see the organisation from a systems prospective, enabling improved understanding by examining the linkages and interactions between the components that make it up: people, processes, performance measurement, customer demand etc. Management actions have both direct consequences and cause indirect reactions. The conventional perspective of the organisation (the functional hierarchy) masks these reactions as well as distracting us from delivering our purpose — to delight our customers.
Systems Thinking offers an entirely different perspective; it requires a process focus rather than a functional focus and a collaborative rather than competitive/commercial approach with suppliers and customers. By viewing the organisation from the perspective of our customers, a very different set of opportunities presents itself.
Service happens at the point of transaction. Customers can only judge performance based on those transactions and nothing else. By focusing attention on doing those things that the customer truly values (exceptionally well), and eliminating or at least reducing those which are not valued, we find that service improves, costs fall and delays are reduced. What is more, the people involved in delivering the service have better visibility of purpose and their contribution towards it, they are engaged more of the time in value adding activity and spend less time being frustrated by those activities that we know are a waste of time.
The concept of a reduction in cost resulting from better service is both counter-intuitive and a direct challenge to conventional management norms, but if we are able to change the way we think, we have the opportunity to realise benefits far in excess of those we imagined possible with a conventional way of thinking.
I’m confused by business improvement approaches – I just want the one that will get me results – the question is which one is it?
Our improvement focus has always been on training, personal development, and if that doesn’t work re-structuring the organisation and recruiting new people. Are we to believe that we have been wrong all along?
Right or wrong you certainly are not alone! Such approaches have been the prevailing pre-occupation of management for the last couple of decades. In the new century however more organisations are realising that the biggest opportunity for improvement resides within the organisations processes (the System), not the people who have to work within them. (Deming suggested that the ratio was 95 to 5%).People performance is of course an important aspect of improvement work; however performance of even the best people is limited by the processes within which they work. As Honda once said about themselves: “Outstanding performance from average people, working in fantastic processes”
I don’t like surprises, least of all in the management accounts. We really need to get better at managing our performance. How do we identify the right KPIs?
We have improved our performance of late. I’m not sure that a significant improvement opportunity exists in my organisation. How do I find out what is achievable?
We understand that Bespoke Performance Solutions’s grounding principles of organisational improvement are closely aligned to the work of Dr Deming, isn’t all that stuff about 50 years out of date?
We are not Japanese and we don’t build cars. What can service organisations possibly learn from companies like Toyota?
Is Bespoke Performance Solutions just another consultancy touting the tools and “5 steps to heaven” offered by “Lean”?
As an organisation we now recognise that we need a more structured approach to our projects. How do we know what is going to be appropriate for us regarding methodologies and training?
By recognising that the management of project based work requires special attention and a different approach to the “day job” activity, you have made a vital step to achieving successful project outcomes. Your organisation is unique and therefore deserving of a tailored process through which you can manage your project based work, understanding the nature of the portfolio of projects is the first step, identifying training needs will be one of the last.
So much of what we do at the moment seems to be a one-off. How do we manage such a wide range of initiatives through a consistent approach?
This is where the power of a scalable, agile project management process is so beneficial. As Einstein said “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” We adopt the same philosophy when helping organisations develop project management processes, ensuring sufficient structure, transparency of status, clarity of accountability and communication whilst minimising risks with the minimum bureaucracy.
How do we reconcile project roles, responsibilities and priorities with the line management of our organisation chart?
Easily! If your business is dynamic, facing challenge or change, then it is likely that delivering successful project outcomes is important and that the majority of your people will have some project responsibility. Meeting the expectations inherent in those responsibilities is therefore part of that person’s line management role. Priorities are sometimes more difficult to reconcile. Good people will always be in demand, meaning that project and line managers contest for their input. In such instances the decision has to be arbitrated at a senior level, where the accountability for both work streams rests.
Our projects are never on time and/or within budget. What are we doing wrong? Will software like MSProject and/or a more formalised approach like PRINCE2 help?
It is unlikely. Project management software is attractive because of its impressive functionality (95% of which most users never use), however it is important to first understand how best to run your projects and then consider the enabling technology that would help rather than the other way round. Prescriptive processes (like PRINCE2) designed out of context are likely to be even more unhelpful
I’m really confused by the number of approaches to managing project risk. I just want one that works!
There are no “one-size-fits-all” solution. The project context should inform your decision here. Our paper on Project Risk may be useful in refining your thoughts.