We have become a lot more efficient in our consulting practice (we've had to with the 2002 and 2009 recessions), but wonder what other consulting firms are doing to streamline operations.
Response to a tough economy depends on your location, practice size and specialty. Larger companies have been hit hard, many shedding offices or partners, and very small, specialized firms have often lacked the breadth and agility to adapt. However, firm efficiency is really not about responding to occasional threats, but about sustained efforts to improve productivity and reduce waste. Sound familiar? It should, since "lean consulting" should be part of every practice. We can all take advice from Tim Wood.
Don't know Tim? Let me introduce you:
- T is for Transport Waste - Do you have needless documentation and routing, whether in paper or electronic form? These can be non-value added.
- I is for Inventory Waste - Do you have supplies you have not used in a year? What capital do you have tied up in inventory or underutilized assets?
- M is for Motion Waste - Are you going to meetings you could hold on the phone or online? Are you making separate trips that could be consolidated?
- W is for Waiting Waste - Do you have to wait for clients, suppliers, vendors, your own staff? What is the cost of that lost time?
- O is for Over Producing Waste - Are you doing more research and analysis than the situation calls for?
- O is for Over Processing Waste - Are you delivering more elaborate work products than the client needs or wants (e.g., the 50-page PowerPoint show)?
- D is for Defect Waste - Do you have in place a robust quality control process, even on those "simple" processes you execute all the time? What defects have you uncovered lately?
We mistakenly think that since we are a service business, and that a lot of our processes are "creative" or "custom," we are in no position to apply lean processes to our businesses. Whether you have a sixty person practice or are a solo practitioner, Tim can help you reduce waste.© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA