Archstone Actualizes

Continuing in my effort to overview the smaller specialty service firms in the sourcing and procurement space in addition to the product companies with some of the more innovative offerings, even though I wasn’t able to connect with Archstone in their San Francisco office last month, I made a point to track Bob Derocher, partner and head of their operations and procurement practice, at my earliest opportunity.

Archstone consulting was founded in june 2003 by senior, experienced, consultants from the likes of A.T. Kearney, BearingPoint, Booz Allen, Cap Gemini, Deloitte and PWC who wanted to form a different kind of consulting company that focussed on high value independent advisory services from a technology-agnostic and partner-agnostic viewpoint. In less than four years, they’ve grown to 235 consultants, 7 global offices, and have served over 25 of the Fortune 100 and 65 of the Fortune 500.

Like Denali, whom I overviewed a couple of weeks ago, they primarily hire experienced sourcing professionals with deep expertise in the service areas they practice in, and deep process and category expertise in strategic procurement practices. This is to ensure that they can maintain a flat organizational structure where all of their professionals, including their most experienced principals and partners, are able to work with clients on a day-to-day basis and consistently deliver value.

What I like about Archstone is that they take a client-centric viewpoint on each project and understand that good category sourcing is a combination of strategic sourcing, cost management and control, and supplier relationship management. They don’t have a set solution for their service, like a good consulting firm they work with the client to figure out what the client really needs, and they know that one approach doesn’t fit all when it comes to getting the maximum value on a category. They’re also comfortable on a wide range of projects, anything from helping you with your one-off category project to helping you build a global strategic sourcing function from scratch. I also like the fact that, like many of the good specialty firms popping up these days, they focus on making their clients self-sufficient and continually work on knowledge transfer and change management so that when the sourcing project ends, the client will continue to succeed. And they are comfortable on small to mid-size projects that only require 3-5 consultants and 3-5 months.

For those of you looking for a specialist consultancy in sourcing and procurement, the industry segments in which they have expertise are the automotive, industrial, and high-tech manufacturing sectors; the apparel, CPG, and food and beverage industries; life sciences, pharmaceuticals, and biotech; and financial, consumer and entertainment services. They also have deep category expertise in dozens of categories, which include IT Hardware, Software, and Services, Marketing and Advertising, Overhead and Support, Retail Specific Items, Capital Expenditures, Facilities, Outside Services, and Direct Materials, and on hundreds of commodities within those categories. Furthermore, they’ve sourced over $15B to date with an average savings of 13% ( as they’ve saved over 2B ).