Tag Archives: Operations Management Consulting


If your business is experiencing challenges with processes and operations, it isn’t as efficient as it should be, or if you are striving to increase throughput while cutting costs, it may be time to bring in an operations management consultant.

However, before you sign on the dotted line, you should know the advantages and drawbacks to hiring operations management consultants to help. Let’s take a behind-the-scenes look at operations consulting, how it can benefit your business and some pitfalls we can help you avoid.

Pros and cons of operations management consultants

Operations consulting is what USC Consulting Group has specialized in for more than half a century, and with that, we have been exposed to various situations around the world. But it’s not always easy bringing in people from the outside to tackle the challenges you’re having internally. Here are some pros and cons to consider.

Pro: Process improvement expertise. Your company is in the business of whatever it is you do. Consultants are in the business of process improvements. It’s all we do. We are experts in techniques like Lean Six Sigma (LSS) — there aren’t many companies out there with many in-house black belts in this discipline. LSS is focused on eliminating waste and improving throughput, and it takes years to become an expert in it. External consultants like USC goes beyond LSS to focus on both your people and processes.

Con: Lack of accountability. Some external consultants “fix it and forget it.” They swoop in, offer recommendations for change, hand you a file stuffed full of info about what they found and then swoop out, on to the next project. This is a serious drawback. (Note: USC does NOT work this way)

Pro: Industry expertise. At USC Consulting Group, we have 55 years of experience under our belts. We’ve seen it all. And while every situation and challenge is unique, we are coming at those challenges with decades of experience as our solid foundation for success.

Con: Learning curve. Consultants lack knowledge of in-house procedures and it takes a couple of weeks to get up to speed with a company’s specific processes. USC performs Feasibility Studies to build the business case for the project and at the same time get acquainted with the client’s facilities and operations. We start by listening, hastening that learning curve.

Pro: Training and improvement for staff. If you’re working with the right outside consultant, that is. At USC, we aren’t just about fixing challenges for companies. We coach and teach our clients on how to sustain those changes, instead of just fixing and forgetting. In other words, we provide the training and know-how for you to take it from there. The result is the upskilling of your employees as part of the bargain. That’s an added bonus not all consultants provide.

Con: Lack of sustainability. This is another potential downside of hiring the wrong consultant. Sure, it’s great to highlight challenges and offer recommendations for change, but those changes don’t stick if the consultant leaves it to you to implement them. That’s why we work with your team to implement the process improvement changes and train your people along the way so they can sustain the success long after we’ve left.

Pro: Unbiased third-party advisors. Consultants are not part of a company’s internal politics. We are above the fray. This comes in handy when recommending process changes, because who takes direction from whom can be tricky in companies. We’ve seen it time and time again: recommendations for change go down easier when they come from outside the organization, rather than from within it.

Con: Don’t know the unwritten or unspoken rules. Yes, we may be the aforementioned unbiased third-party advisors, and that’s a big advantage. But it also can be a stumbling block because we don’t know the unwritten rules in your organization. These are cultural norms, do’s and don’ts, that aren’t in any company handbook. Depending on the company, this may be good or bad.

Pro: Cost. Bringing in an outside consultant is actually less expensive than doing the project in-house. If you use an internal process improvement team made up of current employees from different departments, you’re not only paying the cost of the project itself, but the cost of lost productivity when team members are away from their usual duties. If you have a dedicated internal process improvement team, we’re talking about costs involved with salaries, benefits, perks and the whole nine yards. On top of all of that, you are risking the costs associated with failure because you don’t have experienced pros on the project. At USC, there are no net annualized costs due to the results and benefits achieved within the first year that continue for many years after.

Con: Cost. Yes, there are both pros and cons to cost. With consultants, you’ll have a large upfront investment. There’s just no getting around that. But, in the immortal words of the author Kurt Vonnegut, you get what you pay for. Hiring a consulting firm, you’re paying for process improvement expertise. At USC, we have 55+ years of it under our belts. One important thing to note: The breakeven point, when you’re reducing operating costs and improving productivity and throughput, this offsets the cost of the project and is usually realized within six months or sooner.

Pro: Fresh eyes to overcome challenges. You know what they say about forests and trees. Sometimes, internal people are simply too close to the problem to see their way out of it. We can look at the big picture and shine a light on processes and gaps that may be weighing you down.

Pro: Horsepower. USC Consulting Group empowers employees with the tools and techniques that drive optimal performance, adding “horsepower” to your teams. We can augment your team’s efforts and achieve results quicker.

So what does this all mean? Yes, there are drawbacks to be aware of when bringing in operations management consultants. However, when done right, the benefits they bring to your team and process improvement projects completely outshine those concerns.

USC Consulting Group stands ready to help you. Operations consulting is what we do. We know we can come in and get the job done, helping our clients achieve greater efficiency and throughput, improved processes and ultimately a healthier bottom line. We’ll be happy to talk with you about how we can augment your operations.

Already have an internal improvement team? Read more about both options in our article: “Operations Management Consultants vs. Internal Improvement Teams: What’s the Difference?”

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There are a lot of myths swirling around out there about operations management consulting. At USC Consulting Group, we (good-naturedly) take issue with a good majority of them. We’ve been committed to operations consulting for more than a half century. It’s what we do.

In a previous blog, “Debunking Myths about Operations Management Consulting,” we took on some of the top misconceptions about operations consulting, namely:

It’s all about math. At USC, we like to say we’re 80% people and processes, 20% numbers. Yes, some data crunching is involved in what we do, but the key to it all is getting into your operations with our own boots on the ground.

It’s only for manufacturing. Not quite! We work with a wide range of industries, including food & beverage, mining & metals, chemical processing, forestry products, transportation & logistics and a whole lot more.

It has no strategic importance. This one stings. It’s ALL about strategic importance, like Sales, Inventory and Operations Planning (SIOP), which helps companies get a better, clearer look at their company in order to make better-informed strategy decisions.

But there are more myths out there about operations consultants and what we do.

Debunking operations management consulting myths: Part 2

Myth: Consultants work only with the C-suite

We can’t speak for other consultancies out there, but at USC, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, we meet with the top brass, but that’s only the beginning. The secret weapon to our success is getting down on the shop floor and listening to your people on the front lines. People doing the job day to day have valuable input about efficiencies, how processes could be done better and ideas for improvement that top management may not see. Plus, if you don’t have the buy-in and respect of the people doing the job, making changes to how that job gets done is going to be an uphill battle. Involving them from the outset is the key.

Myth: Consultants offer cookie-cutter advice

In other words, they take what worked at one company and bring it to another. That may be true elsewhere, but we understand that every company is unique, even if they work in the same industry. You can’t just overlay one company’s solution onto another company’s problem. We use tried-and-true techniques that we tailor to each individual challenge or situation. It’s about digging into your processes, finding opportunities for operational improvements, and devising ways to best leverage those opportunities.

Myth: Consultants think they know best

This may be the most common beef out there for companies considering or avoiding hiring a consulting firm — consultants swoop in, tell everyone what they’re doing wrong and offer their lofty advice on how to fix it. This misconception gives consultants a bad rap. It induces fear and mistrust among employees that this interloper is going to change or eliminate their jobs. When we go into a new project, we never come in with that agenda. Our first job is to listen and learn in order to make improvements to the process.

Myth: Consultants set it and forget it

Admittedly, some other consulting firms can and do operate this way. They come in, diagnose problems and provide a playbook for how to fix them, bidding the client adieu when that process is complete. We don’t work that way. This is one area where USC stands out from the crowd. We are change management experts who don’t just recommend changes, but help our clients implement those changes as seamlessly as possible. We are ongoing support partners for the duration, boots on the ground to work side by side until our clients are good to go on their own. This ensures sustainability so the solutions stick long after our engagement.

Myths and misconceptions bedevil every industry. We hope we’ve debunked some of these for you about ours.

If you have questions about operations consulting and what it can do for your business, give us a call or email us at info@usccg.com. We’re happy to walk you through the process so you can feel comfortable and confident bringing in some help.

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