Aug 6, 2011

I have arrived as a consultant

Have you felt this before? You are in a customer meeting. This is the initial stages of negotiations for a major deal. The customer says, I have A, B, C problems. And you go with, 'Have you tried this?', 'Why don't you do that' and like
All the time, you are concious of the fact that you are talking generic stuff. You are not sure of the details of what you are saying. You will definitely fumble if customer asks pointed questions asking you to go into detail of your solutions
So, the questioin is, How do you know you have arrived as a consultant?
Yesterday, I was in a casual call with a friend of mine. He wants to start a manufacturing company, and knowing that I was a consultant working with XYZ company in the area of manufacturing industry solutions, he asked me what are the problems that he could expect.
Knowing that he was talking about starting a Dairy manufacturing company I told hin the following.
"There are multiple challenges in Dairy Manufacturing. First one is the mismatch between Demand planning and Raw material planning. Milk products have a short shelf life and hence the demand planning has to be short term in nature. However when it comes to the supply of raw material, that is milk, you can't plan short term. You can't expect your cow to produce more milk this week than it produced last week because the demand of yougurt is expected to go up this week. The milk supplier needs a commitment of about 4-6 months for milk supply. So the demand - supply planning horizon mismatch is a key problem for the dairy industry.
Another issue is relating to raw material quality. The milk supplied by different vendors will be different in quality. So there is a challenge to have a standardized quality for your costing purposes but to maintain differentiated quality standards for payment to your suppliers. Obviously you cannot pay a supplier who supplied a bad quality the same amount as you pay to a supplier who paid good quality milk
Third challenge is to determine the cost of milk. Milk normally contains about 8-10 percent of different solids like Fat, Chemicals, Vitamins etc and the rest is water. How do you maintain consistent costing of milk considering the quantity of solids (Solid Costing) is a key problem in Dairy industry"
While I was talking to him I was never self consious. I knew that I had value to offer and I knew that the customer also knew of the value that I was bringing to the table. I was talking from my heart, fully confident that the customer is benifiting from what I was saying to him.
I had arrived as a consultant....

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