Debunking Myths About Operations Management Consulting
Operations management consulting is a discipline designed to improve your company’s internal operations and processes, making them more efficient, streamlined and ultimately, profitable. It’s what we have been doing at USC Consulting Group for more than 50 years now. During that time, we’ve run across some misconceptions about operations management consulting. In this article, we’ll give you a short rundown of what operations consulting is, and highlight (and debunk) some of the more common myths that are floating around out there.
Operations Management Consulting 101
Operations consultants are outside experts (like us) who can look at your operations with a fresh set of eyes. If your business has a problem or obstacle you can’t solve — a slowdown in throughput, trouble on the line, machinery problems, supply chain issues, demand outweighing supply and more — it’s time to bring in an operations consultant. Operations consultants will first look at your current operations model, systems and day-to-day processes of getting the job done. They talk with front-line workers, executives and everyone in between. Listening is a big part of the job. They employ methodologies like Lean Six Sigma, SIOP, the Five Ms and other tactics to uncover what’s bedeviling your operation and create ways to solve those problems.
Some operations consultants are advisory consultants, or “boardroom consultants” who perform a two- to three-week study and provide a book of recommendations to help you out, and then hand it to you and go on their way. Implementing consultants, like USC, roll up their sleeves and work with a company’s internal teams for as little as 12 weeks to upwards of around 40 weeks depending on the scope of the project to help affect change, and ensure those changes will stick.
For a deeper look at operations consulting, read our blog: “What Is Operations Consulting and Can It Help My Business?” Now, here are three common myths about operations consulting, debunked.
Operations Consulting Myths
Myth: Operations consulting is all about math
At USC, we like to say we’re 80% people and processes, 20% numbers. Yes, some data crunching is involved. But we’re more about getting into your operations, talking to people from the front-line workers to the boardroom, and listening to the pros on the line who do the job day-in and day-out. We use common-sense methodologies to find opportunities for efficiency that you might have missed. We’re not a bunch of pencil-pushing statisticians. Anything but.
Myth: Operations consulting is only for the manufacturing sector
We work with a wide range of industries, including chemical processing, forestry products, food & beverage, life sciences, mining & metals, oil & gas, transportation & logistics, private equity, and yes, manufacturing. We also work with a wide range of disciplines and departments within these industries, including organizational operations, supply chain, sourcing & procurement, maintenance, finance, business process management, shutdowns & outages, research & development and outsourcing.
Myth: Operations consulting has no strategic importance
We’ve got to admit it, this one stings. People somehow got the notion that operations consulting looks only at the day-to-day aspects of getting the job done, and not the big picture, so there’s no strategic importance in what we do. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
One example of how operations consulting is all about strategic importance: SIOP. What is it? It’s our enhanced methodology on Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP). S&OP is a business management process that involves sales forecast reports, planning for demand and supply, and other factors. The goal is to help companies get a better, clearer look at their operations and create better-informed strategic decisions, allowing them to deliver what clients need in the most profitable way. It’s a useful process, but we’ve found it’s missing a critical area: Inventory. Hence, the addition of the “I” in the acronym.
Adding inventory into the mix is just one additional step, but we find it can be the key to the whole thing. When you’re focusing on inventory, it requires a more careful strategy and elevates the entire planning process up a notch. When your inventory is optimized, which is not an easy mark to hit in these days of supply chain disruption, things tend to fall into place. With SIOP, you can make your inventory work for you.
Sales, Inventory and Operations Planning is a holistic process that integrates customer-focused demand plans with production, sourcing and inventory plans, resulting in improved tactical and long-term decision-making.
So, you see, it’s ALL about strategic importance. Three common myths, debunked!
Want to see more myths busted? Catch the second installment Debunking Myths about Operations Management Consulting: Part 2 here.
To read more about SIOP, download our free eBook, “Sales, Inventory & Operations Planning: It’s About Time.”