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“Developing a strategy for sustainable and profitable growth”
Contemporary rapidly expanding technology-driven business environment continuously present companies with numerous challenges. Among these challenges are developing high level of agility in order to survive and adapt to dynamic markets and conditions of competition, leveraging new technological developments to drive innovation in operational capabilities, developing long-term vision that guides strategic decisions and allows for sustainable growth in presence of high uncertainty, and many others. Overcoming these challenges and making provisions for future challenges an integral part of the company’s business processes are crucial to establishing and strengthening sustainable competitive advantage.
Purpose of strategic consulting is to strengthen competitive position of a company through focusing on fostering innovation and increasing operational efficiency. This, in turn, is done thorough planning and precise execution of long-term vision in various areas from corporate strategy to sales & marketing, from investment to change management, and from IT to operations.
Between 2011 and 2015 market for strategic consulting services has been growing at CAGR of 6.6%, increasing in value from $28.2bn in 2012 to $35.4bn in 2015. Representing 14% of the global consulting market, strategy consulting sector is expected to witness accelerated growth fuelled primarily by increasing recognition of importance of the service in developing markets.
Protobase Laboratories focus on three key areas of strategic consulting:
Corporate strategy is tasked with formation, implementation and evaluation of overall business strategy and the one of individual business units. Taking into account array of internal and external factors, well-crafted corporate strategy allows companies to effectively create and capture value in their markets.
By critically assessing past performance of the company and thoroughly analysing current industry environment, strategic business plan identifies key business objectives and overall strategic direction, in which the company should move in order to take advantage of opportunities present in the market. One of the key purposes of a business plan is to keep businesses focused on achieving previously defined goals. Such consistency brings considerable operational efficiency and allows for objective assessment of business performance.
Market entry and growth strategies aim to evaluate current markets, in which businesses operate, and explore new ways for companies to grow, develop their points of differentiation and strengthen their competitive advantage. This segment of strategic consulting looks at potential new geographical markets to enter, new customer segments to serve and current processes that can be improved to accelerate growth.
Value-based management (VBM) takes value of the company as the primary indicator of business success. Simple yet effective, this metric can be utilised both in long-term strategic planning and executing day-to-day operational tasks. The underlying principle of VBM is that every investment and action a business undertake should create value for the company. Using value as a key universal metric aligns business objectives with managerial processes, allows companies to remain focused on achieving those objectives and provides unbiased indication of business success for internal and external stakeholders.
Designing organisation strategy involves critically and honestly assessing current state of organisation, defining a desired form the organisation should take in the future, outlining key differences between current and desired states of organisation, and determining what actions need to be taken to bridge this gap. Guided by the company’s mission and vision, organisational strategy not only determines general direction, which should be taken to fulfil this vision but also feeds into lower management decision-making process, thus, creating more coherent organisational environment.
In the attempt to maximise economic performance and achieve full operational potential, business unit strategy looks at which markets to compete in and how to achieve sustainable competitive advantage in these environments. Either through implementing incremental changes to the company’ processes or initiating a full strategic turnaround, business unit strategy aims to identify ways for specific businesses to satisfy needs of their customers better than anyone else in the market.
Any strategic vision must be supported by effective organisational systems that enable strategic change to take place. Business success is not solely dependent on actions of few top decision-makers in the company. Appropriate infrastructure and behaviours must be in place throughout the company in order to allow for achieving ambitious objectives. Organisational design develops internal structures and frameworks that ensure that all strategic and operational initiatives are carried out successfully and efficiently. It reinforces the company’s focus and reduces waste by eliminating processes that do not add value to the company.
In contemporary constantly evolving environment businesses can’t thrive if they avoid change and adaptation. Change initiatives that are guided by chaotic and spontaneous thinking most of the time result either in wasting scarce resources or even in businesses crumbling under the weight of change. Strategic change management takes into account businesses’ goals and plans and aligns them with current market dynamics. Only through structured and thoughtful change management can companies thrive in the today’s highly uncertain environment.
Functional strategy moves away from guiding the overall strategy of a company or individual business units and instead is tasked with improving performance of a particular department or functional unit, like sales, marketing, operations, finance and technology. Functional strategy supports implementation of the overall corporate strategy by defining objectives of and ways in which various disciplines within the company operate.
Without appropriate sales & marketing strategy in place, businesses may struggle to target and reach correct audiences. Well-defined and executed strategy allows businesses to concentrate their efforts on customers that are right for them and appeal to these customers in appropriate and efficient way. Having long-term marketing strategy in place helps businesses position themselves in unique, meaningful and consistent manner. Creating the right image in customers’ minds and talking to these customers in the right way is often acts as a foundation of competitive advantage.
Possessing a unique set of scarce resources, each organisation strives towards using these resources in the most efficient way. Without structured approach to utilising these resources, however, companies often find themselves wasting them. Operations strategy is designed to align company’s resources and capabilities with wider strategic objectives. Through assessing company’s facilities, processes, workforce, supply chain and distribution operations strategy develops ways for the company to achieve outcomes of desired quality with minimum waste and maximum efficiency.
The primary objective of the firm’s financial strategy is to ensure that there are sufficient resources to fund operational costs and future investments. Financial strategy manages the company’s assets, liabilities and cash flows, and aligns those with long term organisational objectives. As a result, in the absence of solid financial strategies companies risk to be unable to take advantage of upcoming opportunities in the market and even to keep business afloat.
Being deeply integrated within most businesses’ operations, if managed correctly, technology can bring both operational efficiencies and even act as a source of competitive advantage. Technology strategy covers wide range of issues from hardware and software management to human capital and risk management. Adjusting the company’s IT infrastructure taking into account wider strategic considerations is absolutely crucial in order for a company to arrive at the leading market position with minimal wastage of resources.
The three main tasks of a strategy consultant are assessment of the company’s performance and resources, strategy development, and subsequent strategy implementation. As no strategy fits all companies, thorough assessment of the company’s current position is a prerequisite for strategy development. Through intensive research consultants come to understand the current market position of the company and resources the company operates with. Having assessed strengths and weaknesses of the company’s current state strategy consultants then look for ways to amplify the strengths and mitigate negative impact of the weaknesses. Working closely with top management, consultants help the company decide where it wants to be in the long term and which direction it should take to arrive at the desired position. Despite implementation of strategic plans is predominantly carried out by management consultants, strategy consultants play vital role in monitoring the implementation process, making sure that all decisions are designed to achieve the defined objectives, and making amendments to the strategic plan if circumstances call for this.
“Strategy creates vision for the whole organisation. It’s important that all members of the team understand what the direction of the organisation is and their role in it. When you don’t have a strategy it’s akin to sending your staff to a desert to follow mirages in search of water”
“Business leaders don’t like lottery odds and neither do investors who back them. So [strategic consultants] look for patterns in what value-creating growers do to achieve that success”
“Most organisations do certain things very well and there’s something they do not so well. The key to success is doing those things that are most important very very well. It’s also critical to stop doing those things that aren’t important, regardless of how good you are. Redeploy resources, priorities, make decisions and move the resources away from those activities that are not valuable”
“Strategy is focusing on where the leverage is on the things most critical to the future of the company. And that’s what [strategy consultants] do”