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“Bigger is not always better. We cut through the fog, and rapidly generated deliverable, cost-effective solutions. It's what we do, and why clients keep coming back to us”

Dave Cameron, Harlaw

Evidence Three: Intellectual Horsepower & Delivery. Better Than The Big 4 Management Consultancies

The Situation

A global FTSE 100 company was getting itself tied up in knots with one of the Big 4 management consultancies trying to reform the processing and distribution of non-financial management information.

The project itself was an example of what was wrong with systems - and the management company was perhaps complexifying, not simplifying the situation.

The Challenge

Harlaw was brought in to see if it could cut through the fog, and rapidly achieve some clarity because this sort of problem was one where we already had a lot of relevant experience, and we had a reputation for delivering real world solutions.

What we started doing was intensively analysing the metrics - getting down to the nub of the matter. That enabled us to quickly produce a quality framework and a toolset which enabled systems and practices to be assessed consistently. There could be no politics about: we were presenting and basing everything on indisputable data - facts!

The Solution

By establishing a sound structure and metric assessment model, we were able to work with the whole team to produce major improvements in efficiency, and reductions in costs.

Data - hard facts - could once again be used for decision making, so the decisions were better informed, more quickly reached, and more often the right decisions. The risks of getting it wrong were dramatically reduced.

This improved performance by developing confidence in the quality of data, which enabled better business decisions to be made.

It facilitated better (faster, more reliable) external auditing and reporting, which improved the company's perception in the City and among consumers - as well as significantly reducing their auditing costs.

The Change Dividend

The management solution: we were able to re-empower managers to make decisions - and the right decisions - by giving them the tools they needed to do a good job. They were more satisfied, and could produce better results.

Risk reduction: in the long term, it might be argued that the most important effect of these changes was to de-risk the business to some considerable extent: better data, better decisions, less risk of very costly errors.

The benefits of scale: although we did not intend to demonstrate it, this project showed that size of consultancy and scale of operation can be crucial. Smaller is often better - more flexible, more responsive, more willing to stand up for real solutions, and have the quality of experienced personnel to implement them quickly and efficiently.

The Change Dividend summary: aside from the unquantifiable potential savings from reducing expensive risks and disasters, the estimated gain was $4.3 million over 5 years - nearly $1 million a year - and our fee was not anywhere near that figure. We could not say how near that figure the Big 4's fee was.

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