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Specialist consulting: Spotlighting everyday business principles

As Specialist Consultants, we get great satisfaction from helping improve the future prospects of our clients.

Originally, many of our clients wanted help with costing and pricing. We helped many organisations better understand the true cost of their products and services. We helped them understand their cost challenges, given market prices. Much of the time, we would also develop tools to enable them to do this better on their own. This advice helped clients meet the “how much?” challenge. In other words, these engagements helped our clients understand how much their costs differed from the “best in class” and how far they had to go to match it with the best on price.

The “how to” questions

Now, however, we are being increasingly asked to help with the “how to” questions. These require a deeper and more insightful look into organisations. Typically, they involve questions about culture, leadership, structures, systems and relationships. Answering these questions often requires years of managerial insight.

A changing landscape

Originally, most of our work was with disability sector providers. The introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme stimulated many organisations to ask questions and introduce changes that previously were not on their agenda. There is a growing need for our services in the community health sector. Competitive reform and constrained funding has stimulated demand for help with fee-for-service business planning for dental clinics, therapy services and other user-pays models. Aged care providers are also seeking help with successive waves of reform.

Many of our engagements involve helping clients understand and adapt to emerging reforms, which often have unique language, operating models and acronyms associated with them.

Reconnecting with basic business principles

What we see time and again in engagements is the need for organisations to reconnect with basic business principles. What are these principles that often get overlooked in a world of rapid change?

More often than not, they include the following:

The market – Where we fit in and how we are different
We help businesses understand the market in which they operate. More specifically, we help our clients understand what they do that customers really value, compared with others. It is particularly satisfying to help clients identify why they stand out in a competitive market.

A plan – The manual for a better future
Many businesses neglect mapping a pathway for future success. When a client explains the basis of past success, we can help work out what needs to be happen in a changing world. This energises their leadership for action.

Building a culture – Getting there together
Never underestimate the power of collective effort. We help our clients develop a set of messages that help make all stakeholders feel valued.

Checking progress – Measuring the things that really matter
We help management redesign reporting processes so that boards can efficiently discharge their “oversight” roles and get on with focussing on the big picture.

Governing – Assigning responsibility for the big picture
Sometimes boards need help getting the right balance between oversight, insight and foresight. With more focussed management reporting, we help boards set up structures and systems to really focus on the big picture. Sometimes this is “opportunity focussed” and other times it focuses on risk management and scenario planning.

Returning to the “tried and true”

Our Specialist Consulting team operates in a unique space; dealing with the technicalities of specific sector reforms and helping our clients avoid being swamped by waves of change. We then return our focus to a set of tried and true business principles to help organisations build a brighter business future.