Specialists:

The Right Consultants for the Task

Photo credit: Todd Quackenbush

October 24, 2017 12:32

While many of the larger firms in the consulting industry seek to be a ‘one-stop-shop’ for clients, offering a broad range of services, there are others who only aim to be very, very good at a few things. Today we profile three of these firms that, while they may not have the scale of the Big 4 or an MBB, offer capabilities that can rival these larger firms in their individual areas of focus.

The first is MuSigma. Founded in 2004 by former PwC and Booz Allen consultant Dhiraj Rajaram, Mu Sigma is the number one ranked company in the WhoKnowsAbout Global Ranking in the Data Analytics category. MuSigma largely invented the role of the modern data scientist and now has more than 3,500 professional staff. More than a quarter of the Fortune 500 turn to MuSigma for assistance in capturing the value opportunities that derive from Big Data in production, sales and logistics.

Based in North Carolina but with offices in China, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Germany and the United Kingdom TBM works with manufacturers to drive efficiencies in their operations and supply chain. TBM’s focus is on standardizing and optimizing production processes to drive productivity and safety. TBM’s consultants bring expertise in Lean Manufacturing, Quality Management and Continuous Improvement that cannot be matched by any of the mainstream large consultancies.

We also see firms with deep expertise in particular industry sectors. While Huron Consulting Group operates across several industry sectors, its deepest expertise is in the Healthcare sector, where it holds the number one position in the WhoKnowsAbout rankings. Over the last 15 years publicly listed Huron (NASDAQ: HURN) has worked with more than 450 health systems, hospitals and academic medical centers, primarily in the United States, to improve operational performance and respond to changing regulatory environments. It has made a number of recent acquisitions particularly in the areas of electronic health records and large-scale data processing.

Huron has leveraged its expertise to build strong practices in Pharmaceuticals and Biotech, in Financial Services and in the Education sector, but it is in Healthcare that it has distinctive competence and remains the premier consulting supplier.

There are many other examples of smaller firms who are very competitive with mainstream firms in their chosen areas of specialisation: ZS Associates in Sales and Marketing, especially for the Pharmaceuticals industry; YSC in Leadership Development; Partners in Performance in Operational Improvement, especially in the Resources industry. There are also firms that have regional strength - Roland Berger Strategy Consultants in Europe, ABeam Consulting in Asia - but which may not be well known to managers in other geographies.

The mainstream firms have strong capabilities in many areas, but the specialists offer strong alternatives. The ‘one stop shop’ offer clearly has appeal for many clients but we would advise that, given that consultant expertise is the key driver of consulting project success, it is worth understanding which firms and individuals have the strongest capabilities. Previously this was difficult but WhoKnowsAbout now makes it easy for a manager to search for and connect with the companies/consultants with the specific expertise required to deliver the highest value on the consulting investment.

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