Jason Busch at the SpendMatters blog has a great post describing AT Kearny’s procurement-related consulting offerings. His description of AT Kearny’s services is instructive for anyone interested in packaged services:
Procurement Solutions is focused on creating repeatable, expert solutions to Spend Management versus a more traditional management consulting approach which looks at each new procurement and supply chain opportunity from a generalist, one-off analytical lens.
[M]ore sophisticated organizations are most likely to use their services to augment their own capabilities where there is a specific need. In contrast, the management consulting organization is typically a better fit from a sourcing and category basis with clients who are less mature and need greater process help and all around Spend Management expertise and guidance.
The exception to this are more sophisticated companies looking to solve abstract problems or those that demand industry specific expertise — these situations are also a better fit with AT Kearney’s more traditional management consulting services arm. But quite often, the two organizations cross pollinate on projects, joining forces to help clients. Management consulting type-engagements, however, such as a complex make / buy manufacturing analyses, which are large and transformational in nature, are more likely to be led by generalist firm resources than specialized Procurement Solutions ones.
Jason makes a couple of key points to which I want to call attention. First, he emphasizes repeatable vs. one-off solutions: productized services are all about defining repeatable activities, documenting them, and delivering them more efficiently. Second, he correctly notes that the packaged approach is not always a good fit; for example, on large strategic projects where the dynamics are unique and complex.
Packaged, productized services can substantially reduce software implementation time and cost, lowering the risk of project failure. If you are a consulting company or services group inside a software vendor, get on this train, as I have recommended here and here and here.