Broadly speaking the consulting industry falls into 3 categories: strategy, change management and operational. Strategic consulting tends to be dominated by the large consultancy practices that we’ve all heard of, as does change management. This is primarily because strategic and change management initiatives are usually top-down deliveries and often require large teams of consultants covering a broad spectrum of functional expertise.
Choosing the Right Type of Supply Chain Support for Your Needs and Budget
For operational consulting there is a much wider choice on the market, and its operational consulting that tends to be the main market requirement for supply chain and logistics development.
The market for specialised supply chain support broadly falls within 3 categories; the offering is either a supply chain consultancy firm (large practice with multiple consultants), an independent supply chain consultant (individual professional) or an interim supply chain developer. But which type of offering is suitable for your requirements?
Supply Chain Consulting Firms
There are many supply chain consulting ‘firms’ in the market and mostly they are focussed on operational improvement. There are of course also consultancies that specialise in supply chain strategy and change management but, as said before, on the whole these tend to be divisions of larger management consultancies.
Typically people engage supply chain consulting firms when they require end-to-end supply chain transformation, or global standardisation of supply chain practice. This may require the deployment of a team of consultants, with different specialist areas, addressing issues in parallel over a protracted period.
For many people looking to bring in supply chain expertise for a short period to address a specific operational issue or development opportunity, then supply chain consultancy firms, and their associated overheads, are not the best option and those people will tend to look for an independent supply chain consultant.
Independent Supply Chain Consultants
Independent supply chain consultants face the market with the same skill proposition to supply chain consultancy firms. The key difference is that independents are often engaged to address specific performance or development requirements that can be done in sequence, rather than in parallel, and consequently can be achieved by a single supply chain consultant at a lower cost.
Consequently, objectives like inventory management, logistics outsourcing, logistics network design and S&OP tend to be initiatives where an independent consultant brings a more dedicated and cost efficient offering to the market.
It should also be noted that a good independent career consultant will carry the same kind of credibility as a supply chain consultancy firm in terms of experience, professional memberships, codes of conduct, professional indemnity, contingency planning and client references.
Interim Supply Chain Developers
Interim supply chain developers tend to be used where there is a host of initiatives that need to be addressed or implemented over an extended period, often 6 to 12 months. Whilst a supply chain consultant may identify and plan improvements for you, an interim supply chain developer may be contracted to implement those improvements.
Companies tend to engage interim developers either directly, or through recruitment agencies which specialise in supply chain and logistics.
In summary if you expect to need a large team of supply chain consultants, then go to a supply chain consultancy firm; if you need a single consultant then engage an independent supply chain consultant, and if you need more generalised development over a protracted period of time then you should consider an interim solution.
If you’re not sure what option you will need then please contact us to discuss your requirements.