13 Steps to Remember While Implementing Demand Management for Consulting

by | Nov 26, 2022

Implementing demand management for consulting—now that’s crucial for or both procurement professionals and businesses to understand. In a siloed organization, the various departments often find themselves working in isolation, each orchestrating its own set of projects, with little to no synchrony in their strategic visions.

This fragmented approach usually results in an unexpected revelation when the higher-ups finally consolidate the spend data: the cumulative expenditure on consulting has ballooned to a figure tagged as “too much”.

This is not just a fictional narrative but a recurrent tale in many corporations. The solution to averting such an unpleasant surprise is rooted in the proactive implementation of demand management. This approach is not about curbing initiative or stifling progress; rather, it fosters foresight, setting a clear perimeter of guidelines that help streamline expenditures while ensuring alignment with the grand organizational strategy.

To facilitate this transition from chaos to order, from reactive to proactive management, we have outlined a structured path through thirteen key steps to steer your demand management initiative towards success. Read on to discover how to anticipate needs accurately and maintain a robust check on your spend without dampening the innovative spirit of your teams.

1. Understanding Demand Management

Demand management is a supply chain management system that aligns demand with operational capability. Essentially, it’s the compass directing you to spend on the right priorities. Yet, while its concept is straightforward, its execution often poses formidable challenges. Many companies, even with the best intentions, stumble in its implementation.

The culprits behind these missteps are manifold: a lack of support from top leadership can leave the initiative rudderless; an overly complex procurement or decision-making process can bog down momentum; fragmented spending across different departments can muddy the clarity of priorities; and, not to be underestimated, ingrained resistance to change from various stakeholders can stymie even the most well-planned initiatives.

2. Defining a Clear Strategy for Implementing Demand Management for Consulting

The foundation for consulting demand should be projects that are in sync with the company’s strategic objectives. In essence, before implementing demand management to ensure spending aligns with priorities, those priorities must first be clearly defined and anchored to the strategic goals.

It’s vital for executives to bridge this by translating the overarching strategy into demand management principles and decision-making processes. Doing this makes the path clearer, making it easier for top management to get on board. In simple terms, the question becomes: Which consulting projects will propel our strategy forward?

3. Adopting an Effective Decision-Making Approach

While some companies invest millions in consulting, tackling hundreds of projects, it’s vital to recognize that not all projects are created equal. Implementing a one-size-fits-all approach can inadvertently spawn an administrative behemoth, leading to unnecessary bottlenecks. It’s crucial to be both pragmatic and strategic.

Companies can maintain a balance by segmenting potential consulting needs and tailoring the decision-making process for each segment. This involves setting clear thresholds for which projects are managed directly and designating responsible individuals for decision-making within each segment.

Moreover, retaining a degree of flexibility in the process is essential. This not only ensures smooth execution but also fosters the buy-in of internal stakeholders, preventing any resistance or friction.

4. Setting Defined Budget Constraints

Demand management’s cornerstone lies in budgetary constraints. Before diving into any projects, the company’s top management must first determine the funds available for consulting endeavors. This isn’t merely about allocating resources; it’s about ensuring those resources are funneled into the most deserving projects that align with the company’s financial capacity.

But what exactly defines a ‘deserving’ or strategic project? While some projects may not scream ‘strategic’ at the outset, they may offer tremendous value in the long run. This is where the concept of ROI becomes invaluable.

Not only does it gauge a project’s potential return, but it also helps in discerning those hidden gems that, although they might not seem pivotal at the onset, could provide significant yields in the grand scheme of things.

5. Choosing the Right Degree of Centralization

Fragmented spend poses a real roadblock to effective demand management. Without a holistic view of expenditures, how can a company ensure it’s channeling resources into the right projects, all while staying within budget? The challenge then becomes determining the most effective oversight system. Every company’s answer will differ, influenced by its organizational structure, legacy processes, and unique culture.

Digital tools have emerged as game-changers in this space. They allow companies to maintain existing processes while providing a comprehensive view of total spend, eliminating potential bottlenecks.

In this win-win scenario, while the decision-making might still require centralization or be allocated to specific strategy or transformation teams, digital oversight ensures seamless alignment between consulting investments and overarching strategy, whether managed at the Corporate or BU level—or both, contingent on company-specific nuances.

6. Securing Top Management Backing

As demand management reshapes the way companies procure consulting services, it’s bound to be met with some resistance—especially from higher-ups accustomed to older methods. Securing buy-in isn’t just about getting nodding heads in board meetings; it’s about genuine commitment. Most key stakeholders for consulting often occupy the higher echelons of the organizational hierarchy.

To genuinely pivot to a new system, it’s paramount that the C-suite doesn’t just understand demand management—they must wholeheartedly champion it. This isn’t a realm for half-measures; when top leadership, right up to the C-suite, fervently embraces and commits to demand management, it sends a powerful message: adapt and adhere, with no exceptions.

7. Aligning Stakeholders for a Smooth Launch

Successfully implementing demand management for consulting is far more nuanced than just announcing its adoption and setting thresholds. At the heart of the process lies alignment. To start, the target process needs to be formalized with meticulous care. What exactly defines a ‘strategic’ project? What criteria are we using to evaluate? Which documents should be in place to support decision-making? Are exceptions permissible, and if so, under what conditions?

Clear and equitable methodologies and prioritization criteria are non-negotiable—they pave the way for transparency and consistency. Once these foundations are set, and key stakeholders are in sync, it’s time to communicate the blueprint to your teams.

As a best practice, running dry tests on historical data or within major units can offer insights, allowing for refinements in the methodologies. After refining the approach, it’s essential to consolidate project evaluations, ascertain resource needs, and then set the wheels in motion by marking a definitive start date for demand management.

Steps to Remember when Implementing Demand Management for Consulting

8. Prioritizing and Launching Key Projects

In demand management, as in life, pacing is crucial. While it’s tempting to kick off all high-priority projects simultaneously, especially at the start of a quarter, this can swiftly deplete your resources and drain your budget. The art lies in striking a balance.

Naturally, you’d prioritize projects based on their strategic significance. However, avoid being so rigid that when priorities shift—like when a previously ‘non-strategic’ project becomes urgent—you find your hands tied with no budgetary wiggle room.

Remember to also account for urgency in your prioritization process. Though appealing or ‘nice to have,’ some projects can be earmarked for later and queued based on budgetary considerations. As for smaller projects that fall under a set threshold, leave those for managerial discretion, provided resources allow.

Any project demands exceeding a specific threshold should be fielded by the strategic or indirect procurement teams, ensuring a structured and sustainable approach throughout the fiscal year.

9. Refining Strategies Based on Outcomes

In demand management, governance isn’t just king; it’s the entire kingdom. Every project must come under strict scrutiny, with the explicit understanding that any underperforming initiative can be halted. Such rigorous oversight means that the close of each project isn’t truly its end.

Instead, it marks the beginning of an introspective post-mortem analysis, evaluating the Consulting Firm’s performance and the validity of the initial priority criteria.

But it’s not about mere analysis; it’s about evolution. The findings should not collect dust on a shelf. Based on real-world results and forward-looking forecasts, the strategic team might find it necessary to recalibrate the decision-making process. The procurement team might reevaluate and update the roster of Consulting Firms they engage.

In essence, a demand management system that remains unchanged year after year is one that’s failing to learn and improve. To truly maximize its value, it must be a living, breathing entity, ever-adapting to the lessons of the past and the demands of the future.

10. Optimizing the Project Timeline

Strategically spacing out your projects throughout the year is crucial, yet it’s a detail that often slips under the radar. It’s essential to strike a balance: on one hand, you have visionary, transformational projects. These are the game-changers, the initiatives that push your strategy forward and set the stage for long-term value, but they often come with significant costs.

On the other hand, there are projects meticulously designed to deliver quick wins, immediate returns, and tangible cost savings. These quick-yield projects can be the financial catalysts, generating the capital necessary to fuel those broader transformational efforts.

In essence, smartly leveraging the immediate benefits from some projects can seamlessly pave the way for strategic, future-facing initiatives without straining the coffers.

11. Smartly Allocating Costs

Striking the right balance is paramount when merging Demand Management principles with the Consulting Category’s fluidity, all while respecting the Company Culture. Consulting demands are often dynamic and multifaceted.

A system that is too stringent might see executives sidestepping it, while one that is too lax won’t capture its full advantages. The magic lies in a system that can effortlessly adapt and evolve alongside the company’s needs.

Digital tools are game-changers here, providing automation of decision workflows. This digital edge allows for on-the-fly adjustments to thresholds, criteria, and decision-making processes, ensuring the system remains both robust and flexible.

12. Embracing Best Practices

Finding the perfect equilibrium between the fundamental tenets of Demand Management, the nuanced needs of the Consulting Category, and the company’s inherent culture stands as the cornerstone of success. In the fluid and versatile landscape of consulting, the system needs to embody a chameleon—adaptable yet structured, pivoting gracefully in response to evolving company needs.

Should the system be excessively rigid, executives will inevitably bypass it, but an overly flexible system risks losing efficacy and failing to harvest the potential benefits. Thus, it’s incumbent to forge a strategy that marries flexibility with structure, ensuring a dynamic tool responsive to fluctuating demands while holding the company to its core objectives.

13. Maintaining Open Communication with Suppliers

Open dialogue with your suppliers is a crucial final step. It’s imperative to clearly convey the why and how behind the implementation of Demand Management, detailing the effects it will have on them. Suppliers should be brought into the fold, comprehending the new rules to effectively collaborate within them.

Demand management, while a familiar tool in the procurement arsenal, can often meet with complexity when applied to intangible categories such as consulting. It’s a nuanced playing field where traditional approaches may falter. However, adhering to the structured yet adaptable steps outlined above can significantly bridge this gap, steering you toward establishing a best-in-class consulting sourcing capability.

Embarking on this path not only cultivates a more strategic and efficient sourcing environment but fosters collaborative relationships with suppliers who are tuned into your company’s strategic vision ready to play their part in a well-oiled, harmoniously functioning system. This isn’t just about prudent management; it’s about forging partnerships that are attuned to your strategy, propelling your company closer to its objectives with every project undertaken.

Conclusion – Implementing Demand Management for Consulting

Implementing demand management for consulting isn’t the final destination; rather, it’s the launchpad for a more strategic journey in consulting sourcing. This transformative path often begins with a realization—an unsettling discovery that the organization is either overshooting its budget or misdirecting its funds away from the right projects.

Yet, identifying the problem is only half the battle. The true key to unlocking solutions lies in a meticulous spend analysis. By dissecting your expenditures, you can pinpoint not only where you faltered but also discern which units or departments deviated the most from the strategic vision.

Moreover, demand management is more than just setting benchmarks and spending caps. It evolves into a holistic approach encompassing clear decision criteria, established thresholds, and redesigned procurement processes. It reshapes the very fabric of decision-making within the organization, leading to the establishment of a curated list of preferred suppliers, among other things.

In essence, what we’re talking about isn’t merely monitoring spend but reshaping the entire ecosystem of consulting sourcing. By stepping into the world of demand management, organizations embark on a journey to optimize, streamline, and align their consulting endeavors with their overarching mission and vision.

implementing demand management for consulting implementing demand management for consulting implementing demand management for consulting
implementing demand management for consulting implementing demand management for consulting implementing demand management for consulting
implementing demand management for consulting implementing demand management for consulting implementing demand management for consulting
implementing demand management for consulting implementing demand management for consulting implementing demand management for consulting
implementing demand management for consulting implementing demand management for consulting implementing demand management for consulting
implementing demand management for consulting implementing demand management for consulting implementing demand management for consulting
implementing demand management for consulting implementing demand management for consulting implementing demand management for consulting

13 Steps to Remember While Implementing Demand Management for Consulting

How Consource Can Help?

Consource can help you treat consulting as a strategic investment by enabling you to choose projects that align with your company’s strategy through the implementation of demand management, in addition to budget adherence and spend analysis. Consource ensure optimal results and maximize ROI.




Get more delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up now.

Related Posts