Keeping abreast of industry trends, clients’ needs help us deliver value – Nwariaku

Harold Nwariaku, managing partner, Harold & Co Procurement and Supply Chain Consulting shares insight into practices that has helped the company grow in a competitive market in this interview with BusinessDay’s FOLAKE BALOGUN

How will you describe growth for your business?

Growth for a professional services consulting business can take many forms, and the specific approach will depend on the business’s goals, target market, and resources. The following is evidence of growth for us. We now offer an expanded range of services; this includes new services that are related to our current offerings and branching out into new areas that complement our existing services. We are identifying and targeting new potential clients, as well as retaining and expanding relationships with current clients. Marketing and networking are key to this process. As the business grows, it is necessary to bring on additional consultants or other staff members to meet the increased demand for services. Relying on a single type of client or a small group of clients can be risky for a consulting business: diversifying the client base helps mitigate this risk and provide a steadier stream of revenue. Depending on the pace of growth, we may be expanding into new geographic markets either through partnerships or by setting up a physical/virtual presence in those markets. Many consulting businesses are leveraging technology to streamline their processes and improve efficiency, which allows us to handle more clients and projects without necessarily increasing the size of our team. Growth for us can be described as continuously seeking out new opportunities and finding ways to deliver value to our clients.

Which practices have you employed to improve the services you render to your clients?

We have improved services to clients by developing a deep understanding of the client’s business and their specific needs. We gather information about our client’s operations, objectives, and challenges to provide relevant and effective advice and support. We provide timely and responsive support. This involves responding to inquiries and requests in a timely manner and being available to assist clients when needed. We offer a range of services and solutions that are tailored to the specific needs of the client. We provide a variety of consulting and advisory services, as well as tools and technologies that can help clients to improve their procurement operations. We have improved services to clients by maintaining high standards of professionalism and ethical behavior. We treat our clients with respect, maintain confidentiality, and ensure that all our activities are conducted in compliance with relevant laws and regulations. We set clear expectations with clients from the start of a project, including the scope of the work, deliverables, timeline, and any other relevant details. This helps prevent misunderstandings and ensures that our clients are satisfied with the result. We use project management tools and techniques to stay organized and manage projects efficiently: this includes creating project plans, setting milestones, and keeping clients informed of progress. We have built strong relationships with our clients which has helped establish trust and foster loyalty; this involves regular communication, providing timely responses to client inquiries, and going above and beyond to meet their needs.

Keeping abreast of industry trends and staying current on the latest tools and techniques has helped our consulting business deliver the most value to our clients. We take the time to understand clients’ specific needs and objectives, and tailor solutions accordingly. This has ensured that the consulting services we provide are relevant and effective. Regularly soliciting and acting on client feedback has helped identify areas for improvement and ensured that clients are satisfied with the services we provide.

We also provide ongoing support and training to help clients implement and sustain improvements to their procurement operations. This involves providing ongoing advice and guidance, as well as training and education programs.

How have you been able to apply lessons from previous challenges encountered running the business?

Our approach is to review the successes and challenges of our projects and consider what contributed to each. This helps us identify areas that are working well and areas that need improvement. We use the lessons learned to inform changes to business processes and systems. For instance, if a particular service delivery method was successful, we incorporate it into the business’s standard operating procedures. We document and share the lessons learned with team members and relevant stakeholders to ensure that others in the organization are aware of the business’s experiences and can apply them to their own work. The lessons learned are used to inform decision-making, both in the short term and long term. This ensures that the business is making informed, data-driven decisions that are based on real-world experiences. We recognize that operating a service business is an ongoing learning process and we strive to continually learn and improve. We seek out new training opportunities, stay current on industry trends, and seek feedback from clients and team members. We analyze the procurement processes and identify any issues or challenges that may be impacting business performance and help them to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of these processes. We have helped businesses to identify and manage risks in the procurement process by developing and implementing strategies to mitigate those risks, finding alternative sources of goods or services, and developing contingency plans to respond to potential disruptions. We have supported businesses to adopt best practices in procurement by providing guidance on processes, tools, and technologies that can improve efficiency and effectiveness, and we have fostered open and effective communication and collaboration with suppliers and other partners in the supply chain to identify and address any issues or challenges that arise.

What impact are you making in your community?

Investing in the development of human capacity in the community has led to economic growth and development, as individuals are better equipped to contribute to the economy through their skills and knowledge. Through the foundation, we have developed the capacity of individuals and helped enhance social and economic mobility, as individuals are better able to access opportunities and achieve their full potential. Developing the capacity of individuals has led to improved quality of life, as individuals are better able to meet their needs and achieve their goals. Investing in learning and development has helped to build social cohesion, as individuals are better able to participate in and contribute to their communities. Developing the capacity of individuals has helped to reduce poverty and inequality, as individuals are better able to access opportunities and improve their socio-economic status. Through our training workshops, we are transferring knowledge and skills to the community, which is helping to build capacity and improve the overall quality of services.

Can you highlight the remarkable experience in your training workshops?

Our workshops are engaging and interactive, with a mix of activities and techniques that keep participants interested and involved. The learning objectives of our workshop are clearly defined and communicated to participants, so they know what they can expect to learn and how it will be relevant to their work or personal development. The content of our workshops is relevant and practical, with a focus on skills and knowledge that participants can apply in their work or personal lives.

Our facilitators are experienced and knowledgeable in the subject matter and can effectively convey information and facilitate discussions. We conduct workshops in a supportive and inclusive environment, where all participants feel welcome and able to contribute. Participants can ask questions and provide feedback throughout the workshop, which helps ensure that they are getting the most out of the experience. By developing the skills and knowledge of individuals, our client organizations have improved productivity and efficiency. This has led to cost savings and increased competitiveness. Developing the capacity of employees has helped to foster a culture of innovation, as individuals are better equipped to think creatively and come up with new ideas. Investing in the development of employees has helped to enhance their career prospects and increase their value to the organization. This has led to increased job satisfaction and retention. Developing the capacity of individuals improves their problem-solving and decision-making skills, which has led to better outcomes for the organization. Employees have also adapted to change and new challenges more easily, which is particularly important in today’s rapidly changing business environment.

How do you monitor performance in achieving the company goals?

There are several ways we measure our business performance which include financial metrics such as revenue, profit, and return on investment provide valuable insights into the overall health and performance of our business; customer satisfaction such as gathering feedback from customers provides valuable insights into the quality of our products or services, as well as our overall performance; employee satisfaction which includes surveying client employees has provided valuable insights into the overall culture and performance of businesses, as well as highlighting areas for improvement; process efficiency which includes measuring key process metrics such as cycle time, error rates, and throughput has provided insights into the efficiency and effectiveness of our operations; market share which can provide valuable insights into a business’s competitive position and its overall performance in the market.

Which coping mechanism has been employed in running a business in the Nigerian market?

A well-written contract can help to reduce the risk of misunderstandings or disputes by clearly outlining the scope of work, deliverables, payment terms, and other important details. We get to know our clients and build strong relationships with them to help us better understand their needs and concerns., this helps us identify and mitigate potential risks. Having a diverse client base also helps to reduce the impact of any one client’s problems or issues on our business. Project management tools help us track progress, identify potential problems, and take corrective action to mitigate risks. Carefully monitoring and managing our finances has helped us to identify and address potential financial risks before they become problems. Keeping up with industry trends helps us anticipate potential risks and stay ahead of the competition. Lastly, have a plan in place for handling unexpected events or problems that may arise. This could include backup plans for key employees or systems, or a plan for recovering from a natural disaster or other emergencies.

How will you describe your growth in the years of operations?

One of the most obvious signs of significant growth in business is an increase in revenue. Secondly, we have observed an increase in sales, and overall revenue. Thirdly, we have expanded our customer base, as more people have become aware of and become interested in the products or services we offer. We are also gradually increasing our market share and gaining a larger share of the overall market. We have managed to increase our profitability, by increasing revenue and decreasing expenses.

Growth in expertise and specialization has made us more valuable to potential clients. Improved marketing and sales efforts have helped us reach new clients and drive growth through increased networking, building relationships, and promoting the services of our business. Our improved quality of service has attracted repeat business and positive referrals, which has helped to drive our growth. Lastly, good financial management, including effective budgeting and cost control, has helped us grow over the period.

How will you describe the services you render to your clients?

We help organisations develop and implement procurement strategies that align with their business goals and objectives. This includes identifying potential suppliers, establishing contracts, and developing processes for managing and evaluating suppliers. Our consulting firm helps organizations understand and analyze their current spending on goods and services, which can help identify areas for cost savings and efficiency improvements. We help organizations manage their relationships with suppliers, including establishing contracts, negotiating terms, and monitoring performance. We support organizations to review and improve their procurement processes, which may include identifying and implementing automation or other technology solutions to streamline the process. We identify and select appropriate suppliers based on their specific needs and requirements. This may involve evaluating proposals, conducting site visits, and negotiating contracts.

How are you able to identify trends in the market and improve the service you render to your client?

We gather and analyse data on key indicators such as sales, market share, and customer feedback, using tools such as market research, customer surveys, and data analytics software. We monitor industry news and developments to identify trends in the market, read industry publications, attend conferences and events, and follow industry leaders and professionals on social media or other online platforms. We engage with customers and stakeholders, such as suppliers, partners, and industry experts, who provide valuable insights into trends in the market. We conduct focus groups, host customer roundtables, and participate in industry forums and conferences, support our clients to implement market intelligence systems – such as competitive intelligence software or market monitoring tools, and these have been helpful for identifying trends in the market. These tools provide real-time data and analysis on key indicators, allowing my business to stay up to date on market developments. We also conduct trend analysis to identify patterns and trends in the market over time using data and analytics tools to identify trends in areas such as sales, market share, or customer behavior, and use this information to inform business strategy and decision-making. We train and empower employees to handle customer inquiries and complaints effectively and can improve client service.

We support our clients to develop a customer service strategy that outlines the company’s goals and objectives, and how they will be achieved. We support our clients in implementing technology such as eProcurement, Contract Management, Warehouse systems, Inventory Management tools, etc. which help to streamline and improve client service processes. Lastly, we regularly monitor and measure the performance of clients to identify areas for improvement and adjust as needed.

How can you measure the impact your business has made on people?

The impact of a consulting business on people can vary depending on the specific business and the services it provides, as well as the broader context in which it operates. Some impacts of our consulting business on people include the following: Job creation which has had a positive impact on employment and income levels. Improved efficiency and effectiveness help organizations improve their efficiency and effectiveness. Transfer of knowledge and skills to individuals and organizations, which helps build capacity and improve the overall quality of services. For businesses is identifying specific KPIs can help to measure the impact of consulting on both the individual and the business. For example, the individual’s KPIs might include things like the number of projects completed, client satisfaction ratings, and new skills acquired. Business KPIs might include things like increased revenue, improved efficiency, and increased market share. Gathering feedback from clients, employees, and stakeholders can provide valuable insights into the impact of consulting on the business. We do this through surveys, focus groups, and one-on-one interviews. Analyzing data and tracking trends help to identify any changes or improvements in the business because of consulting. This involves looking at financial data, customer satisfaction ratings, and other key metrics. Evaluating the outcomes and results of consulting projects can provide a clear picture of the impact on the business. This involves analyzing the success of specific initiatives or projects or comparing results to pre-consulting benchmarks.

What are the constraints with delivering commercial targets as regards turn-around times and cost reduction?

We conduct a thorough analysis of current processes and identify opportunities for improvement in terms of turn-around times and cost reduction by looking for bottlenecks or inefficiencies in the process and identifying ways to streamline or automate tasks. We also engage with stakeholders such as employees, customers, and suppliers to gather insights and ideas for improvement. This may involve conducting focus groups, surveys, or holding workshops to solicit input. Based on the information gathered, we develop a plan for improving turn-around times and reducing costs, implementing new technologies, streamlining processes, or negotiating better terms with suppliers. Once the plan has been developed, we implement it effectively and monitor its progress. This may involve setting benchmarks and tracking key metrics such as turn-around times and cost savings. We identify and eliminate unnecessary steps or bottlenecks in the process and implement automation or other technology solutions to streamline the workflow. This helps reduce turnaround times and improve efficiency. We go further to look for ways to eliminate waste in the process, such as by reducing rework, eliminating unnecessary activities, or finding more efficient ways of completing tasks. We provide training and support to team members to help them develop the skills and knowledge they need to deliver high-quality work efficiently by empowering them to take ownership of their work to drive process improvement. Then we regularly monitor and measure progress against targets and use data to identify areas for improvement. Bottlenecks or other issues that are causing delays or increasing costs are clearly brought to the fore. We encourage strong communication and collaboration within the team and with clients can help ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals. We are prepared to adjust as needed to ensure that the plan is effective in delivering commercial targets and to revise the plan or implement additional measures as needed.

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