In practical terms, companies make choices on both an annual and tactical level about where to allocate time and resources. They need to ensure that allocation is optimised. At PIP, our consultants work with clients to make sure they are investing in priority areas, geographies and services that will foster growth and expansion.
We know that strategy in isolation does not work. In addition to looking outwards to the market environment, we know that any strategic recommendation needs to recognise a company’s organisational capabilities and be executable within the required time frame. PIP brings a practical perspective and a commercial maturity to strategic questions. We stay involved with the companies we work with to ensure strategy becomes reality – and is truly embedded in the day-to-day operations of the business.
Our approach has a number of different, critical elements:
Rigorous external and internal research and analysis: a robust strategy is grounded in facts and reality, so we work with our clients to build a view of the macro external factors that affect their business – for example, market growth, competitor positions, pricing and geographic issues. We will often involve industry and subject-matter experts to build the most comprehensive view of the external forces that affect the business. Complementing this approach, we build our understanding of a client’s internal operations and in-house capabilities. We collect information, interview and observe staff and survey the organisation to build a view of what is possible with the existing company resources.
Work with the line management to determine how to deliver the strategic objectives: we believe that it is not only important to have an outward focused strategy, but also equally critical to develop creative tactics and plans to deliver the strategic goals as rapidly as possible. We believe in getting out of the boardroom and working with the line management to identify the best approach for success. This also ensures line management’s engagement and ownership to help with accelerating implementation.
Wire the organisation to ensure all aspects support the delivery of the strategy: to deliver a strategy, all elements of a business need to be aligned. A significant part of our value comes from our experience embedding strategic goals in an organisation. We work with managers to ensure incentives are aligned, progress against goals is monitored weekly or monthly, and the leadership walks the talk. We ensure that the appropriate, sustaining disciplines are in place so that strategy becomes more than just a document in the boardroom.
Our strategy practice supports clients in a number of ways:
The core of our work is helping companies create value. Our strategy practice helps companies develop a clear perspective on how they create and maintain value in a competitive environment. We do this by helping companies objectively assess their competitive advantage along every lever that creates value – whether through superior cost positions, better customer relationships and customer retention, or perhaps though advantaged price realisation. In short, we help companies understand how they compete and maintain leadership positions in their industries. This ‘winning perspective’ comes from a synthesis of multiple assessments – customer needs, technology developments, competitive position and competitor strategies, political and policy direction, and company capabilities. We help companies develop strategies that will allow them to build and defend competitive advantage. And, most importantly, we ensure that the strategies are truly implementable by the company. Good strategies only become great strategies when the organisation is fully aligned on implementation. We work with companies to ensure that the strategy is understood throughout the organisation, and that the strategic vision is translated into day-to-day actions that are implemented by front-line employees.
We have an extensive Transaction Services practice. Here we assist our clients with commercial due diligence for acquisitions and mergers, post-merger integration or turnaround, divestment strategy and execution. Where relevant, we co-invest with our clients on acquisition targets.
Customer sales and service
We work with companies to help ensure that their sales and service operations are aligned to deliver to customer needs. The first element is to focus on what the customer wants. What is important to them? How do their needs differ across different segments and geographies? The second element relates to positioning. How is our offering different to that of our competitors? How can we best explain and distinguish the value proposition to the customer? Answering these core questions is essential when developing a highly focused sales or customer service strategy.
Often businesses have to make tough decisions about where to allocate their resources between different sites or business units. Before we work on optimising operations at a particular location, our approach is to step back and ask: is this the right place to be investing time and energy? Should improvement at this site be the highest priority of the business? When we undertake a business portfolio assessment we often find that highly profitable, small sites have been starved of capital, supplies or sales attention. When we undertake a portfolio review our goal is to help identify the best and biggest opportunities for both revenue and margin growth in the business.
At times, a company’s portfolio of capital projects needs reviewing – especially after major shifts in the industry or economic cycle. We bring our technical, capital, operations and financial expertise to bear to help create a rigorous, thoughtful challenge and review process with our clients. We also help our clients to review their existing capital approval and portfolio management processes and, where relevant, help establish the rigorous frameworks and review processes for a healthy capital portfolio that meets company and shareholder objectives.
Often the most complex strategic question in business is not what to deliver to the customer, but how to deliver it in the best way possible. When a business has developed a new offering, or is rolling out in a new geography, it is critical that the operating model of the business be well designed. We work with clients to design operating models for the delivery of strategic goals. Linked to our organisational work, we seek to answer questions such as: how should the delivery unit be structured? How should responsibilities be divided? How will key processes run? We are very experienced at designing the best and most efficient operation to ensure success is delivered and our deep operations experience means these solutions are grounded in the reality of ‘what will work’.
Most strategic reviews turn outward – focusing on the needs of the customer and the positioning required to grow the top-line revenue of the business. But it is just as critical to think strategically about the cost base of the company. Which functions should remain in-house and be managed as core to the business? Which functions can safely be outsourced in order to achieve the cost advantages of scale? Outsourcing key elements of the business should not be committed to lightly, and we have extensive experience of reviewing internal operations and identifying the right strategic options for sourcing the inputs to the business differently.
Working with PIP was a really positive experience for the management team, especially compared to other consultants. They were terrific around the problem-solving, and really constructive around the major issues. They engaged the management team well, and did so without bugging us all the time. They also showed real tenacity in getting a result in a short time frame.