Why Internal Resources Need More Help Than You Might ThinkJuly 28, 2021 Topics: Network Strategy, Productivity & Labor, Project Support & Management, Retail & CPG
Why does a company seek help from an outside consulting firm? Usually the reasons are simple: they lack the manpower, bandwidth and/or skillset needed to complete their projects. A company’s internal resources, which are comprised of Engineering, IT, Operations, Facilities, HR, etc., are typically tasked with running and maintaining the day-to-day business, and they often don’t have the capacity (time) to take on additional projects. As a result, small to medium-size companies with fewer resources are more likely to seek help from consultants, but consulting firms can help companies of all sizes, including larger companies with more robust staffing.
Internal resources that are spread too thin can benefit from the addition of consultants as short- or long-term resources. Consultants can concentrate on filling in gaps or assisting with larger projects, allowing the in-house team to focus on key tasks, such as running and maintaining the business. Consultants can be engaged in any capacity, from managing projects to acting as an extension of an existing project team. It’s important to note that consultants can be held to a higher level of accountability for testing, budgeting, process flow, and delivering results on schedule.
For example, Sedlak assisted a large retail client that had recently been devastated by a peak season impacted by capacity and operational constraints. Their management team needed immediate operational improvements throughout its North American (U.S. and Canada) distribution network in order to meet (or exceed) the next peak season’s forecasted volumes. Therefore, they engaged Sedlak to develop a long-term strategic plan to increase distribution network capacity and optimize their supply chain.
As a result, Sedlak identified approximately $50M in savings by adjusting the network size and developing racking plans to accommodate increased storage capacities. We then worked with the retailer’s team to reconfigure the distribution of best-selling items to the retail stores surrounding the main distribution centers, enabling lower transportation costs. The optimization resulted in lower overall costs, reduced transit times and fewer buildings to maintain. This project is an illustration of how consultants can provide the additional manpower and expertise needed to solve a company’s time-sensitive challenges.
Furthermore, internal teams of any size may need help from a consulting firm if they don’t have the knowledge to complete a project. Another client of ours with a large team could not meet the significant SKU requirements of a Tier 1 mass retailer’s direct-to-consumer business after they acquired an additional company. They needed a master plan for fulfillment to support aggressive growth plans for their electronic retailing business, so they reached out to our team of consultants. We, in turn, created a best-in-class fulfillment center design to meet their growing needs.
In conclusion, there are many different reasons companies choose to hire a consulting firm. Perhaps your internal team’s time would be better spent working on forecasting models for the coming peak season, trying to squeeze additional capacity out of your already tight reserve areas, or doing design work on that process you’ve been trying to improve, instead of adding another project to their already long list of to-do’s. Or perhaps your team needs the specialized knowledge and independent perspectives that a consulting firm can offer on a variety of subjects, from facility design and Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) to omni-channel fulfillment and network strategy. Regardless of the need, what’s important is that when consultants are added to a team, the internal resources can focus on the tasks that add the most value. Keep in mind that the best consultants aren’t there to steal your thunder. They’re there to collaborate, add significant value and make your team look even better.