4C Associates launches procurement and cost management solution

16 November 2018 Consultancy.uk

European procurement consultancy 4C Associates has launched a range of software modules, collectively the 4C Analytics platform, to address procurement and cost management issues. With the approach of Brexit likely to complicate many logistics chains in the UK and EU, the new line of insight-as-a-service products is hoped to offer clients a way to analyse and rapidly improve their procurement mechanisms.

Founded in 2000, 4C Associates today has over 100 consultants working from offices in the UK and the Netherlands. The consultancy helps blue chip organisations optimise their procurement and sourcing organisation, and deliver bottom line savings across spend areas. 4C Associates works for medium sized enterprises and large corporations, including AstraZeneca, BAE Systems, Boosts, GlaxoSmithKline, Hunkemöller and WorldPay. The firm is anticipating a busy coming period, thanks to issues thrown up by Brexit, and has been investing in its operations in recent months to strengthen them ahead of that.

Most recently, this saw 4C Associates announce a partnership with Scanmarket, one of the world’s premier providers of software solutions for sourcing. As part of the alliance, 4C Associates, which became Scanmarket’s tenth major consultancy partner, can leverage the technology in engagements – to the benefit of the firm’s clients.Threat of trade war hits global procurement industry

Now, the pan-European consultancy has launched a new range of software models to help its clients more rapidly address procurement and management issues. The insight-as-service series of products consists of several focused solutions helping businesses to address their emerging needs as they develop their digital procurement strategies. The 4C Analytics platform combines the knowledge of procurement and subject matter experts with cutting-edge data analytics technology, while a ‘light touch’ integration process means 4C believes businesses will be able to quickly collate, visualise and action insights.

Among the models offered are three platforms. First is 4Spend, an application that uses machine learning, semantic analysis and associative rules to analyse third-party spend data and generate savings opportunities. Then, 4Margin, an application mainly for retail applications to rapidly identify low-margin products in their range and produce negotiation packs that identify the most appropriate levers to improve margin follows. Finally, 4Risk offers a way to connect to credit and ratings providers such as DNB, Achilles and Experian to profile suppliers, while integrating CSR policies & supplier code of conduct to enable procurement to become the owner of third party risk within their organisation.

Commenting on the launch, Steve Harrison, Chief Technology Officer at 4C Associates, said, “Our clients all have significant investments in procurement technology, however it is our understanding of the problem domain and nimble approach to deployment that is encouraging them to engage 4C technology in order to gain greater insight into their spend and to identify opportunities to manage cost more effectively.”

Related: Threat of trade war hits global procurement industry.

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First Consulting helps BDO to build new RPA capability with UiPath

22 March 2019 Consultancy.uk

Global accounting and consulting firm BDO is working on its own digital transformation, as it looks to pioneer the use of Robotic Process Automation in its work. Business consultancy First Consulting is helping BDO with designing the RPA journey and building its internal RPA capability.

Robotic Process Automation describes a process that utilises software programmed to autonomously carry out basic tasks across applications, reducing the burden of repetitive, simple tasks on employees.  Able to be developed and deployed in a matter of weeks, RPA is highly cost-effective and can typically demonstrate returns on investment within a few months. It has been known to dramatically improve the speed and accuracy of processing, resulting in a quicker and higher quality of service to customers.

Last year, BDO explored the value of Robotic Process Automation, concluding the technology has the capacity to bolster the firm’s service offerings as well as internal operations. On the back of this analysis, the professional services firm incorporated RPA into its ICT strategy for the coming years. This has already seen the first robot delivered at BDO, which has since been taken into use by the business.

First Consulting helps BDO to build new RPA capability with UiPath

First Consulting is advising BDO on all aspects of deploying and scaling up the technology across the organisation – from capability building, governance structure and processes to architecture and IT infrastructure. The joint team of BDO and First Consulting have, meanwhile, also taken the first steps to set up an internal RPA capability.

BDO faces a key year for its operations, particularly in the UK where it has recently become the fifth largest provider of audit and advisory services in the country. As the firm looks to further grow its junior auditing market lead over the Big Four, the effective deployment of innovations such as RPA could prove key in the coming period.

With RPA on board, BDO’s ICT department aims at increasing the satisfaction of employees by removing a range of often boring (repetitive, administrative) tasks. By automating such tasks, productivity can also be increased at the professional services firm, as its staff will be freed up to spend more time performing value-adding activities. On top of this, RPA can execute tasks and processes with a lower margin of error compared to humans, enhancing BDO’s internal operations.

Working with RPA vendor UiPath, during the project at BDO, First Consulting has sought to apply its best practice RPA growth model methodology. The approach differentiates between three different growth phases, starting with RPA, structuring RPA, and scaling RPA.

Project results are delivered through an agile approach. According to the engagement partners, the following results were achieved in a period of six weeks:

  • Developed a first robot process that directly creates value for the business and contributes to the 360 degree customer view by migrating information from two systems to another system;
  • Advice and implementation plan on the technical design in relation to RPA, ICT guidelines, a security questionnaire and a basic infrastructure;
  • A roadmap for setting up an internal RPA capability, including the following components: processes & governance, change management and capability building & training;
  • Plan for setting up benefits tracking / monitoring as well as reusability of robot process components.

So far, First Consulting and BDO have enjoyed a pleasant and productive cooperation, achieving “tangible results” along the way. According to First Consulting’s team engaged by the project, the close match between the firms’ norms and values proved a key success factor. In the coming period, First Consulting and BDO are investigating opportunities to develop a digital capability in other areas of BDO’s business.

Roel van Overdam, Head of RPA at First Consulting, said of the collaboration, “Our pragmatic, no-nonsense approach has clearly paid off.”

Related: First Consulting: Is RPA implementation going in the right direction?