An overview of pan-European supply chain advice

Internationally active companies who are looking for supply chain management advice in Europe have plenty of choice. The supply chain consultancy landscape is fairly chaotic, with a number of recent mergers further adding to the dynamism. Following on from its European subway maps of supply chain software suppliers and logistics service providers, quarterly magazine Supply Chain Movement has now designed a version for the supply chain consultancy sector.

 

The supply chain consultancy market appears to be an interesting one from a business perspective, with various large-scale mergers in recent years. PwC took over the Dutch firm TruEconomy, Belgian S&V Consultants and the international company PRTM two years ago, which was followed by the acquisition of Booz & Company, employing 933 consultants worldwide, in late 2013. EY purchased the Dutch/Belgian Beco Groep, a consultancy firm specialised in sustainability and corporate social responsibility with 42 consultants, in 2012. In that same year, KPMG took over the international consultancy BrainNet which employed more than 300 consultants and was specialised in sourcing. KPMG Advisory had previously acquired the supply chain arm of Grant Thornton in the USA in 2010.

Other noteworthy acquisitions in this sector have been those of Lodestone by Infosys, Celerant by Hitachi Consulting and ROCE by Chainalytics. There will no doubt be more takeovers in the years ahead, not least because the major accounting firms are generating an ever-greater proportion of their turnover from consultancy. And the increasingly international field of supply chain management is an attractive growth market for them, especially in the current economic climate. It is notable that Deloitte seems to be keeping out of these takeover battles, probably because it – in contrast to the others – did not divest its consultancy division at the start of the millennium in the wake of accounting firm Arthur Andersen’s role in the Enron scandal.

Subway map

In order to provide some degree of insight into the European market for consultancy, the editors of Supply Chain Movement have designed the European subway map based on information provided by the consulting firms themselves. A combination of the number of consultancy projects completed and the market share by revenue for each specific area of advice determines whether a company gets its own subway station on the relevant line, thus visualising the company’s proven experience in a particular field. To be included on this subway map, a consulting firm must have offices in more than one European country.

The consultancies were also asked to name the three competitors that they come up against most regularly when pitching, for each specific area of advice. Companies that named each other often are located close together on the map. As a result, the subway map shows distinct clusters. In the so-called ‘Accountancy Area’ are the ‘Big Four’: Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC, although their profiles differ. The neighbouring ‘Technology Area’ is dominated mainly by Accenture, Capgemini, CGI and IBM. In the ‘Corporate District’ are the strategic consultants such as McKinsey, BCG and A.T. Kearney, who are also increasingly moving into the area of supply chain management and operations.

Supply chain boutiques

In between the areas mentioned above, there are a handful of larger, more specialised international supply chain consultants such as Chainalytics, Horváth & Partners, Miebach Consulting and Camelot Management Consultants. A few firms set themselves apart with a targeted approach to training, such as Oliver Wight (long-term coaching), Involvation (with the business game The Fresh Connection) and Hughenden Consulting (blended learning).

This study of the market reveals that specific consultancy projects related to lean, sales & operations planning, supply chain network design, sourcing or supply chain strategy feature in almost all the clusters of consulting firms, apart from strategic consultancy. The popularity of these projects is easy to explain in today’s challenging and rapidly changing economy. The number of sustainability-related projects, for instance, is very limited, and implementation projects for often expensive supply chain and logistics software do not score particularly highly either. Meanwhile, a couple of firms have clearly specialised in supply chain risk management.

 

Download: SCM Consulting Subway Map 2014

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