5. Thinking you can’t execute a transformation on your own.
CEB is careful not to call itself a consulting firm, and Raiswell is not short on dismissive commentary about consultants. Here is the difference between a consultant and an adviser, in his view: “You decide you need a new accounts payable process. A consultant says here, we have one, it’s in this box, and to implement it 10 of our best people will unwrap the box, roll it out and after 12 months we’ll leave and you’ll have the best AP process there is.”
What CEB does, he says, is help you learn how to do the work yourself. “You sit down with one of our advisers, put your data into our system and we’ll tell you if your accounts payable system is in fact broken. If it is, we’ll show you the top two or three accounts payable processes used by other companies. Then we’ll advise you how to put together a project team. We can help train and guide that team, but what we won’t do is put bodies in your office for months.”
Under CEB’s business model, its members pay an annual subscription fee to get access to the firm’s ongoing best-practice research, benchmarking database and advisory services. The cost of all that is spread out among CEB’s thousands of clients. “It’s a more cost-conscious model,” Raiswell opines.
A Picture of Success
After considering all those common mistakes, it might be difficult to picture a fully successful finance transformation. But CEB says it has identified some trends about what works, as well as what doesn’t, as shown in the table below.