OK I have been here a week and here are my findings – You need to buy completely new machinery and hire a whole new workforce! – Please make your cheque payable to………
This first statement may seem quite flippant and unrealistic, but in many cases this is the short version of what a consultants report would say. Many reports point to inadequacies in the equipment and staff of the client company and while they may make the findings more acceptable by taking 25 pages, with tables and graphs to say this. The truth is that these are the easy fixes from the point of a consultant and a bench marking study. If a client company decides that they need someone from the outside to advise, then it is fair to say that they have been around for a few years and the equipment and processes are well established. The equipment can vary from ancient to a few years old. The processes and working practices will have been handed down for many years with both the good and bad practices being passed on. So for a consultant to say you should replace all your dyeing machines with the latest ones is a quick if impractical fix. Similarly to undertake a wholesale change of the workforce is similarly impractical.
How many factories can afford to throwaway all there machines and start again? How many factory owners when seeing these types of recommendations would think anything other than the whole exercise has been a waste of time and money. If you are going to work with a client on anything you have to show true value, work with what the client has and make it better. Do it in a way that has minimal capital expenditure and gives maximum value back to the client. True the big expenditure can come later, if it is truly needed but in the first instance look for the quick wins and ‘low hanging fruit’
When you are in the day to day of a business it is difficult to see the little things you can change that would make a big difference. Senior management have the big picture to see so the detail is lost. This is where a consultant and the external view can prove the most value to a company.
A recent Textile Consult consultancy identified a change in practice that ultimately saved the client $50,000 / month just from a procedural change. These are the kind of results your clients want to see, the ultimate win win. The true value of a consultant is being able to go into the minute details make small changes and give maximum benefit.
There have been comments on Linkedin, in other threads, about consultants who are working just to get the retainer or top up the pension, with no apparent value to the clients. This is a very sad situation, I have seen factories who have employed consultants for many months and spent thousands of pounds, with no end in sight to the project or resolution to the initial problems. This cannot be a good situation and only serves to continue the perception that their is no benefit to these highly paid consultants.
It is time for a change of mindset, I called this piece ‘The COST of Consultancy’ towards the end I spoke about the VALUE of consultancies when the mindset of many consultants changes from the desire to get retainers to giving VALUE to their clients. The textile industry will start to see the true VALUE of consultancy.
Ian Smith is a Textile Consultant with Textile Consult Ltd – a business consultancy practice that services the textile industry, offering training, consultancy and project management.