About UsOur ServicesOur Track RecordOur PeopleJoin UsContact

Pepper Foster consultants have been trusted to advise, elaborate, and lead the strategy, analysis, and execution of a host of mission critical initiatives and projects, for a wide variety of clients. Here are some of those successes. And, you can read through our white papers, because the more you know about what we do and how we think, the more you will want to work with us.

New Product Opportunity Analysis

Market Leading Manufacturer

Opportunity

Anticipating that low-cost Asian competitors would soon enter a key market, the innovation group within a leading international manufacturer identified a strategy that would allow it to quickly introduce its own lower cost, but potentially higher margin, product offerings. Before moving ahead with this strategy, the manufacturer needed to understand its feasibility and viability, the current and potential market demand for the new products, and the potential impact to existing business lines and pricing.

Solution

Research and analysis was conducted to understand and document regulatory, environmental, tax, duty and tariff regulations, policies, and implications; engineering challenges, supply chain, manufacturing capacity and quality thresholds; current and anticipated competitive product offerings; potential market, revenues, customers, applications and needs; and impact to current product pricing, market share, revenues, margins, brand perception, and customers. The results of the research and analysis was summarized in a business case and presented to the executive team for review.

Outcome

The feasibility and viability of the strategy was proven and the project was green-lighted to move forward to the next stage - execution planning.

Partner Services Strategy

Global Not-for-Profit Educational Services Organization

Opportunity

This global not-for-profit produces and sells the market-leading educational assessment software and has a mission to partner with schools and districts to ensure all kids learn. The partner services division is responsible for supporting partners (customers) in the implementation and use of the software. Historically many of these services have been included and provided as part of the license fee, but commercial competitors are changing the market by breaking out and charging for services separately. As a result, there is increased price competition and it is becoming increasingly difficult to generate enough income from license fees alone to cover all of the services provided.

Solution

Pepper Foster was engaged to help develop the strategy, and business model for partner services going forward. Key stakeholders from all areas of the organization, and key external partners (customers) were identified and interviewed. The current state and competitive landscape were assessed, and opportunities and challenges identified and documented. Future State workshops were held with key leaders and stakeholders during which the current state assessment findings were discussed and the future state vision and strategy for Partner Services developed and agreed upon. A gap analysis between the current and future state vision, and a roadmap of projects and initiatives to close those gaps, was developed and presented to senior leadership for approval and funding.

Outcome

There is alignment across the organization about what services should be provided 'in the box' as part of the license fee, and which should be charged for separately as 'out of the box' services. Charters and revenue estimates for the 'out of the box' services have been produced and a program launched to productize, standardize and sell the highest priority services. New chargeable services will be launched to partners over the next 12 months.

Growth Strategy Development & Alignment

Publicly-Traded Restaurant Franchise Business

Opportunity

This market leading, publicly-traded restaurant franchise company was not achieving the growth or financial results it wanted, or that its external investors were demanding. The executive leadership team and board of directors had a number of ideas for strategies and tactics that could accelerate growth, but had not yet had the opportunity to elaborate, analyze and prove the feasibility of those ideas, and were not yet aligned on a path forward.

Solution

Pepper Foster was engaged to work with key members of the leadership team to analyze and elaborate the identified concepts and strategies, and to facilitate two separate full-day offsite strategy sessions with the leadership team, and board of directors. Pepper Foster developed detailed current state and historical financial analyses; analyzed competitors and industry trends and performance; identified trends, correlations and causations for growth and store performance; developed and elaborated strategies, tactics and concepts to accelerate growth and improve financial performance; facilitated strategic discussions and workshops with the leadership team and board of directors; identified and achieved alignment on the goals, metrics, guidelines and constraints that will measure and guide the business over the next 2, 5, 10 and 20 years; fleshed out and confirmed the strategies and tactics that will be employed to achieve the goals.

Outcome

The executive leadership team and board of directors are aligned. Key goals, constraints, strategies, and tactics have been identified and proven. Morale and positivity within the leadership team and the board has improved. The company is executing a strategy that should result in both short-term improvements as well as provide and enhance a solid foundation for long-term growth and sustainability.

Competitive Analysis & Customer Retention Strategy

Global Not-for-Profit Educational Services Organization

Opportunity

A leading educational software nonprofit had seen its normally high customer retention rate drop in recent years. Although the company’s product had long been considered the best on the market, other products had started to gain ground, and the company feared they were no longer competitive on price or performance. The sales team hoped to identify a course of action to regain their competitive status.

Solution

30 former clients of differing sizes and profiles were identified and interviewed. They were asked about their overall experiences with the product and services offered by the company, their reasons for canceling their licenses, the factors that had led them to choose another product, and to compare the old product with their new solution. Their responses were catalogued and analyzed for common themes and specific action items.

Outcome

Prior to the outreach, the company believed its retention rate had dropped due to product deficiencies that were being addressed through product updates. The interviews revealed that while the product enhancements already underway would be beneficial, addressing a different set of challenges would likely yield even greater results. Based on this knowledge, a precise set of recommendations for product and service enhancements was developed that would directly address the issues that had prompted customers to move away from the product.

Opportunity Analysis

Oregon 2028 Summer Olympics

Opportunity

Hosting the Summer Olympics can not only bring huge global exposure and billions of dollars of revenue from sponsorships, TV rights, tourism and business, it can also provide host cities with a catalyst and platform to effect massive positive change. For example, as a direct result of hosting the games in 1992, Barcelona halved its long term unemployment rate and went from an industrial backwater to the world’s 11th most popular tourist destination. Could Portland and Oregon benefit in a similar way from hosting the Summer Olympics in 2028?

Solution

A feasibility study was conducted to understand if Portland and Oregon are capable of hosting the Summer Olympics and meeting the stringent requirements outlined by the IOC. In order to be selected, a city needs to have achieved the support and engagement of their community and government, secured private and public funding to pay for new infrastructure and facilities, and put together a bid that proves it can successfully host the world’s greatest athletic spectacle. Before moving forward with constructing a bid, it was therefore necessary to first understand if Portland and Oregon hosting the 2028 Summer Olympics was feasible.

Outcome

Portland and Oregon offer the perfect combination of geography, climate, infrastructure, and culture to host the Games and support is being generated from local business and community organizations to support the bid.

Innovation Workshop

Publicly Traded Restaurant Franchise Business

Opportunity

A publicly traded restaurant franchise company had recently experienced declines in comparable store sales and store openings. Efforts were underway to increase sales and accelerate franchise growth, but some of the leadership team felt that the company should explore broader changes to its existing business model and core product offerings. They wished to identify and investigate a number of innovation opportunities that would differentiate the company in an increasingly competitive market.

Solution

Company executives and industry experts were invited to an offsite innovation workshop designed to facilitate brainstorming and out-of-the-box thinking. The workshop included a number of exercises meant to inspire creative ideation and spur open conversations about the future of the company.

Outcome

During the workshop, executives explored any personal biases they may have brought to the table, and committed to discarding those in order to explore new approaches to the business with open minds. They discussed their vision for the future of the business and offered new product, marketing, and strategy ideas. Each idea was considered in further detail and prioritized based on its feasibility and expected outcome. Ultimately, the group agreed on an innovation portfolio filled with short-term, incremental goals, and long-term, transformational goals.

IT User Experience Transformation

North American Division of a Global Manufacturing Giant

Opportunity

The executive leadership team of the North American division of a global manufacturing giant was unhappy with the service and focus of IT, and were growing increasingly frustrated with the IT related problems and issues their employees were experiencing.

Solution

Pepper Foster was engaged to facilitate and conduct a year-long series of focus groups and workshops with over 50 key IT and business stakeholders. These stakeholders had been identified by the executive leadership team, and represented all areas of the business and IT. The full day, quarterly workshops provided a safe and productive forum within which frustrations, issues and constraints were raised and worked; solutions and workarounds identified; progress and changes communicated; and IT and business stakeholders collaborated building solid working relationships. In between the workshops, Pepper Foster worked with the IT stakeholders and leadership to identify and manage changes to the policies and way IT was delivered, supported and communicated to the user community.

Outcome

There has been a complete turnaround in the perception and relationship between IT and the business. North American executive leadership is very happy. 100% of the business stakeholders now agree that IT cares about users. In a survey to measure progress, the average score to the question "On a scale of 1 - 5, where 1 is 'it's gotten much worse' and 5 is 'it's gotten much better', how would you rate your overall IT user experience now compared to a year ago?" was 4.6. The business stakeholders who participated in the workshops now act as IT Champions within their departments. The worldwide CEO suggested to the North American CIO that the changes made as a result of this project be adopted worldwide.

Technology Leadership

Global Not-for-Profit Educational Services Organization

Opportunity

This global not-for-profit produces and sells the market-leading educational assessment software and has a mission to partner with schools and districts to ensure all kids learn. The product engineering division is responsible for creating and operating many web-based systems from two data centers. Management turnover, however, created a leadership gap in the operations team, placing several mission-critical technology projects at risk during a peak time in the annual business cycle.

Solution

Pepper Foster Consulting was engaged to manage a technology team and its projects. Daily workflow was reorganized around existing-but-underutilized agile and collaboration tools. Two urgent projects were planned and delivered in a short timeframe, avoiding a service outage to customers. New vendor contracts were negotiated and signed in conjunction with purchasing. New engineers and a permanent team manager were interviewed and hired in collaboration with human resources and engineering division leaders. A multi-year roadmap was developed and a framework for project management was established.

Outcome

Crucial expansion projects were completed on time, adding capacity to service impending customer growth. Capability of the technology team was expanded and matured, and the organization is better positioned for new challenges in the coming year. Streamlined tools and processes increased efficiency and response time.

PMO Team Building & Coaching

Market Leading Manufacturer

Opportunity

Every three years, the PMO function within a market leading international manufacturer is refreshed and staffed with new professionals from a wide array of functions and departments within the business. Although all of the team are strong, dedicated and capable, they have not worked together as a team before and have varying levels of experience and skills in project and program management.

Solution

A series of one and half day team workshops were developed and facilitated with the PMO team over the course of several years to develop team unity, establish operating norms, and train members on proven best practices. Individual Program Managers and the PMO leaders were also coached one on one to help them achieve their goals and grow as professionals. Custom PMO templates, frameworks, processes and cadence were developed and rolled out to the team. Additional ‘client’ facing workshops were developed and PMO team members coached on how to facilitate those sessions.

Outcome

Standard operating cadence was established. Team trust and accountability was developed. The team’s ability to program manage the work streams they were responsible for improved. Work stream leaders and project managers began looking to the PMO for guidance and support. Over $1 billion in operational benefits were realized.

Establishing Product Benchmarking Capability

North American Division of a Global Manufacturing Giant

Opportunity

The Engineering, Technology and Finance leadership teams were not satisfied with existing competitor benchmarking capabilities and outcomes. In the previous two years multiple benchmarking initiatives did not yield expected results and occupied significant resources. Leadership understood they must continue benchmarking to maintain competitive advantages and understand relative position to inform strategic decision making. The focus of the upcoming benchmarking must mitigate stakeholder objections and perceptions while cultivating a collaborative and engaging environment across 7 departments. The engagement should also establish an operational approach to benchmarking through embedding strategy, knowledge, process, technology, and approach for each department.

Solution

Pepper Foster was engaged over a 6 month period to unearth benchmarking objectives, develop a strategy to achieve them, and execute while building a repeatable and efficient benchmarking capability. Throughout initial stages Pepper Foster developed the plan to achieve objectives, maximize investment, and minimize cost. Pepper Foster engaged stakeholders from each participating department to ensure commitment and alignment with objectives, timelines, and departmental roles and responsibilities. During the next phase Pepper Foster ran over 30 workshops which included more than 230 employees across 22 cross functional teams. Pepper Foster communicated interim goals to each team and how they align to objectives, as well as what is required of each individual team. Each team spent between 2-4 hours focused on benchmarking, in which assessments considered product design, cost, manufacturing, customer impact, reliability, and post sales impact. Throughout the next phase Pepper Foster analyzed results and developed next steps to continue minimizing resource occupancy and align actions with objectives. This included transitioning product design improvements and cost reduction opportunities to various departments (to execute), and developing an innovative method to estimate the product cost difference (to inform strategic decision making). Finally, Pepper Foster presented relative product costs to leadership for strategic decision making and handed off the benchmarking playbook to client partners, enabling them to repeat benchmarking on an ongoing basis at a fraction of the cost.

Outcome

Key outcomes included achievement of the following objectives:

    ·   Elevated strategic decision making (competitive strategy, pricing, etc.) through understanding relative cost between client and competitor

    ·   Identified opportunities for product cost reductions, design improvements, and learning opportunities

    ·   An operationalized benchmarking capability (at low cost and high quality)

In addition, the project was delivered months ahead of schedule and 35% under budget expectations.

From a qualitative standpoint participant survey results were generally favorable, including:

    ·   78% of respondents understood what the benchmarking project was trying to achieve (remaining 22% of responses directionally neutral)

    ·   65% of responses recommending the approach moving forward (remaining 35% directionally neutral)

IT User Experience Transformation

North American Division of a Global Manufacturing Giant

Opportunity

The executive leadership team of the North American division of a global manufacturing giant was unhappy with the service and focus of IT, and were growing increasingly frustrated with the IT related problems and issues their employees were experiencing.

Solution

Pepper Foster was engaged to facilitate and conduct a year-long series of focus groups and workshops with over 50 key IT and business stakeholders. These stakeholders had been identified by the executive leadership team, and represented all areas of the business and IT. The full day, quarterly workshops provided a safe and productive forum within which frustrations, issues and constraints were raised and worked; solutions and workarounds identified; progress and changes communicated; and IT and business stakeholders collaborated building solid working relationships. In between the workshops, Pepper Foster worked with the IT stakeholders and leadership to identify and manage changes to the policies and way IT was delivered, supported and communicated to the user community.

Outcome

There has been a complete turnaround in the perception and relationship between IT and the business. North American executive leadership is very happy. 100% of the business stakeholders now agree that IT cares about users. In a survey to measure progress, the average score to the question "On a scale of 1 - 5, where 1 is 'it's gotten much worse' and 5 is 'it's gotten much better', how would you rate your overall IT user experience now compared to a year ago?" was 4.6. The business stakeholders who participated in the workshops now act as IT Champions within their departments. The worldwide CEO suggested to the North American CIO that the changes made as a result of this project be adopted worldwide.

Business Process Optimization

Health Insurance Payer Organization

Opportunity

The largest US Health Insurance Company had a high operational cost based on benchmarking industry competitors. Across core functions (claims, billing, enrollment, etc.) the cost per member was significantly high and the need to drive operational cost reductions was evident. Organizational leadership considered reducing cost and enhancing operational performance through technology but the level of investment and change was too significant.

Solution

With a moderate investment (relative to technology) the organization looked to develop and strengthen business processes to drive operational cost reductions. Through end-to-end business process review it was found that gaps existed in roles, unnecessary redundancies and rework occurred within and across units, metrics captured did not measure business outcomes, and existing technology was underutilized. A number of recommended process improvements, role revisions, technology utilization and SLAs/KPIs that measure business outcomes were recommended to operational leads and organizational leadership.

Outcome

The company reduced its operating cost by over 20% while positioning itself for even greater cost reductions in the longer term through increased visibility.

Optimizing for Growth

Startup Apparel Company

Opportunity

An early-stage apparel brand landed major nationwide retail accounts and needed to optimize its global supply chain and operations in order to deliver. Specifically it was essential that key business processes were automated, target margins and lead times achieved, and a new third party logistics provider (3PL) that could meet the service demands was identified and engaged.

Solution

To automate processes, Netsuite, a cost-effective, cloud-based ERP solution that would allow the immediate integration of necessary operations and scale for increased functionality over time, was identified and implemented for accounting, order management, reporting, and later CRM, including the training of all impacted team members. To increase production capacity and margins, an additional supply chain was opened in India and raw materials were sourced in-country to reduce transit time and costs. In addition, production process improvements, from product design to demand planning and inbound shipping, were identified and implemented. Finally, a new 3PL that had the ability to scale with the company’s needs was identified and warehouse operations were transferred from the previous 3PL, reaching a 98% on-time ship rate within three months.

Outcome

The company doubled its revenue two years in a row, while maintaining a small, efficient workforce and reducing operational costs as a percentage of revenue. The company used insight from Netsuite’s sales reporting to increase production on high performing styles, while trimming less profitable styles. Overseas manufacturers delivered higher quality standards and firm lead times, and the company was able to put its largest and most successful collection on shelves in time for the holidays.

Business Process Documentation

Global Technology Company

Opportunity

A new ERP implementation was being rolled out to a new region. Documentation on the company’s business processes for production planning, materials management, sales and distribution, service management, and financials and controls needed to be updated to reflect current state processes in regions where the ERP had already been implemented, to support testing and development of the latest version of the system.

Solution

Pepper Foster was engaged to work with the leaders of each of these business areas to update any existing documentation, create new documentation where needed, and identify any gaps or redundancies in the documentation. Pepper Foster held dozens of workshops with the business leads and their team to walk through the business processes. The information from these workshops was incorporated into flowcharts documenting the business processes. In addition, Pepper Foster created a walkthrough for the system testing effort that combined the high-level business processes with step-by-step work instructions and test scenarios, so users in the new region would have all of the information they needed when sitting down with the system for the first time.

Outcome

Within days of the resulting documentation being uploaded to the company’s internal file-sharing system, the business leads began to use the documentation to push for process improvement, and help current users better understand the system and the business processes it supports when troubleshooting errors.

Operating System Roll-out

Global Software Company

Opportunity

A global software giant was rolling out its latest operating system (OS) for internal use and testing ahead of its general production release. Internal IT developers were unclear about what changes were necessary to ensure existing internal websites and applications would be compatible with the new web browser included in the OS, and also unaware of the specifics of new corporate branding design principles that had been developed to ensure a uniform look and feel.

Solution

The key new features offered by the web browser, the critical code necessary to ensure compatibility, and the underlying design principles of the new branding were identified and documented in a simple update process and reference tool for developers. A SharePoint site that incorporated each step of the update process, and provided developers with a comprehensive library of documentation for each step was created and publicized.

Outcome

The SharePoint site and update process bridged the communication gap between the OS development team and internal IT developers and site owners. IT owners were then able to leverage the new browser features in their site code, creating a uniform look and feel across the internal IT sites.

Behind the Curtain - How Consulting Really Works as a Business

At Pepper Foster Consulting, we believe that transparency with clients and employees is essential to building relationships that are based on trust and mutual respect. And, that a shared understanding of the pressures and realities we are all working under, is key to building mutually beneficial relationships. This white paper explains how the financials of consulting work, the impact of those financials on the different consulting models operating in the U.S. market today, and how those models drive culture and client service. It also helps readers estimate how much they should be paying for consulting services, and how much they should be getting paid as a consultant. And finally it explains the model, tenets, culture and value proposition of Pepper Foster Consulting.

Read More

The Changing Role of Business in Society

Historically, business has been focused on making money. But that is about to change. A new generation of employees and leaders are making their mark on corporate America, and they have a very different vision: They believe companies should focus less on products and profits and more on people and purpose. This philosophical change will bring about a massive shift in the role of business in society. This presentation explains why this change is happening, and how those changes will impact people’s lives, careers, and possibly the world.

Read More