I have developed systems (IT, Finance, HR, Sales, Marketing) for over fifty Fortune 500 companies. I am a systems expert with a focus on process optimization. Having worked in 8 countries and speaking 5 languages allows me to draw from a wide array of experience to better understand problems. I currently am a national practice leader for a cyber security firm. From cloud computing, M&A integration, to entrepreneurial development, I solve problems for a living.
Having worked a consultant with global consulting firms and served over fifty of the Fortune 500 companies, I have been a consultant for over 15 years.
Although the type of work will vary, consultants need to know why they are being hired. What does your client expect from you? If consultants are armed with that knowledge, they can best apply their skills. I have seen many consultants who jump right into the problem without understanding the context of why they were hired and what success will look like from the client's perspective.
A very specific visual that I use is to imagine what the bullet point on my resume needs to look like after I am done. What am I going to do for the client that they can measure and be happy with that I can put down as an example my advice had on the organization. Once I have that in mind, I make sure the client wants that too and the rest is just doing my job.
Another thing that consultants may need to know is the type of company culture. If the organization has a lot of certain types of folks, like passive decision makers, the approach to take will accommodate this. The culture of an organization can shed a lot of light on what a consultant can realistically accomplish, especially as the consultant's approach and personality will have an effect on how successful they can be in that organization. I have worked with some organizations where I was not a good fit, while others made working together easy. Being aware of the culture can help the consultant modify their approach accordingly and even know when they may not be the best fit. It is a mature sign for a consultant to read the problem well enough to know that they are not the best person for the job.
I was hired by a major movie studio to increase its revenue. They had global operations spread across many divisions such as Theater, TV, DVD, Video on Demand, Video Games, and so forth. They were further divided by regions and countries, which made this process one of the most complicated. However, there is a simple formulaic approach that works for almost all companies.
First, you need to get a good handle on what your revenue is and what you need it to be. Looking at your financial statements is one way, but this finical data often times goes through so much analysis and AICPA translation that its origin and nuance is lost under the category of Revenue. The reason to have a revenue target is because that will drive the next set of questions. If you want to grow 10% or 40% matters because the strategy to get you there is very different.
Common questions the consultant will ask may include:
1. What is your revenue now? Show me the sources and explain the process to getting this number.
2. What is your target for this year, next year, and looking out 3-5 years? Where do you see the growth coming from?
3. Share with me a profile of a customer for each section of your revenue generating business. Is this profile typical? How did you compile this profile? Do most customers fit this profile?
So basically you begin to narrow down the questions and get to the driver that is producing the revenue.
Tasks that can be assigned include:
-Fill out templates with revenue questions that will get you to think about the macro process.
-Reflect on questions like "why are you in business?" and "what do your customers buy from you?" These may seem obvious, but often times the product or service you sell is not the only thing they are buying.
The workload will be significant. You need to have executives with insight into the end-to-end process, as well as specialists who can ensure that what the executives tell you is accurate. There is a tendency for the executive to overly simplify the process, just like there is a tendency for a specialist to get into excessive detail. Once you find the right balance, things move smoothly.
The entire level of effort on your organization can range depending on how intense you want the process to be. I would say at least 100 hours of your executive's time will be spent on it and on large scale projects, this can balloon to 500-1,000 hours.
The initial data gathering part is easily two to three weeks of your time. Then there will be a pause while the consultant consumes the data. Then will be lots of questions and additional request for information. Each request can take a few days to a few weeks. The more you give the consultant, the better the analysis and strategy that you will receive. The final portion where the consultant shares the strategy with you is a good time to compare it to your strategic mission and purpose to ensure that the direction presented resonates with your organization. If it does, you can begin enacting the plan and you will certainly reap the benefits of increasing your revenue with strategic purpose.
I have started several PMO departments for companies that have demonstrated a need to have one.
The objective of a PMO department is to centralize how you are delivering projects. It usually happens when you have too many projects, or ill equipped project managers and there is misalignment between your projects and your company's objectives.
The nature of a project is to create a change within the organization. When you have too many projects, you have too many competing changes in progress.
There is not a single strategy on building a PMO department because the business rationale for one will vary. For this reason, starting a PMO department should be treated as its own project. Define a business plan, change management plan, budget, and ensure you have stakeholder support. Only until you have done the proper research and planning should you embark on building a PMO department.
PMO departments will carry serious overhead and your organization needs to weigh the pros/cons of this based on the changes your organization is trying to undertake using a project management approach.
I have started multiple companies that began pricing web solutions in the price range you quoted. It's tough and it takes time.
My recommendation is to focus on word of mouth. You already have an existing install base so send them a survey and identify how they found you and why they like you. Armed with this market data, start creating profiles of the type of customer that would buy your services. Track more people who fit that profile--websites they visit, schools they attended, age demographic, type of solution they want built, etcetera.
The fact that you have high costs is a bit of a concern, but without knowing the specifics, I would say that you should aim for a 3-5% cost of sales figure. If you are not investing that much into your sales, you are probably under investing in your sales process. At this price point, volume is your best friend.
There is no short cut to get to your next stage. I have worked past this by asking my existing clients for referrals, really understanding the profile of my customers so that I can find them online, and understanding that its a numbers game--you get more clients when you try more prospects.
Meeting face-to-face is important, but certainly not the only way to do business. You just need to find the right profile customer that will appreciate your service offering and highlight the benefits without getting stuck on your remote location, or high costs.