Efficio – Moving Beyond Procurement Consulting

Efficio has been one of the big success stories in the procurement “service provider” world over the past couple of decades. It’s a firm I’ve never worked with closely, so it was an education as well as a pleasure to spend an hour recently with James Jenkinson, a VP and a veteran of almost 15 years with the firm, for a chat about what they are up to and their plans for the future.

Founded in 2000, Efficio has grown steadily to around 200 staff now, making it one of the largest pure-play procurement consulting and services providers, certainly in Europe. Its recruits range from experienced procurement practitioners, to existing consultants from other firms, to school leavers, Jenkinson says.  And talking of Europe, some 50 percent of its work is on the Continent and beyond, making it also one of the more international of the UK-based firms in our space.

Efficio has grown mainly on the back of what we might call fairly traditional procurement and cost management work. It still sees 50 percent or so of its work coming from what Jenkinson calls “big direct categories” – working with clients on massive construction or capital investment programmes, where the firm has considerable expertise and experience. Network Rail is a major client in that market, for instance.  “That type of work requires sophisticated programme and project management skills from our teams as much as procurement,” explains Jenkinson.

Often its work involves going into organisations, getting a grip of current spend data, then proposing and implementing sophisticated category and cost-reduction strategies. It is relatively easy to describe, but as anyone who has been around a while knows, harder to implement successfully. Efficio has certainly managed to build a reputation for delivering in that space. “What we bring is intelligence, process, experience and analytics, but it is typically the insight that comes from the data which is key.”

And for some clients, an improvement programme can turn into a full-scale procurement transformation. “That typically involves looking to up-skill the client’s own staff, and often a major technology development as well to embed change,” Jenkinson explains. “That can take two years to make it all happen.”

Efficio is happy to be “creative on deals,” and work with different fee models, including contingency, cash flow related payments and so on.  And increasingly the firm has moved from pure consulting into the managed service / outsourcing space as well.  For instance, Efficio runs a large chunk of Thames Water’s procurement operation, following a major contract win in 2011.

Not satisfied with those consulting and managed services / outsourcing offerings however, Jenkinson is developing a software offering as a strong third leg to the proposition. Efficio has already developed a certain amount of its own software to meet its regular consulting needs, including around analytics and project management, as well as working with a number of software firms regularly in its day-to-day consulting assignments. But Efficio has seen an opportunity for its own products to develop into a self-standing element of the firm, with its own clients. As a result, Efficio’s technology offering or “backbone” is currently being used in over a dozen clients both in the UK and on the Continent.

We’ve said more than once that there is a definite trend in our solution provider space for firms to expand their scope. Xchanging moving into software (from its outsourcing heritage), GEP offering a wide range of services, software firms providing managed services around their products. Efficio is yet another example, with a consulting firm (initially) looking now to have three pillars to their business, with managed services and software alongside the original core. So we’ll keep an eye on how those ideas develop, particularly in the software field, and see if Efficio can continue its successful growth and expand further, both geographically and from a product perspective.

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Voices (2)

  1. Londonprocurement man:

    Is it it me or is Spend Matters becoming a way for consultancy firms to indirectly advertise themselves. Its either 4C, Efficio or Proxima…who cares! They will rip you off with expensive graduates. Lets stick to the interesting stories and leave this consultancy rubbish aside please.

    1. Peter Smith:

      Fair point London Procurement Man! However, we do genuinely think that procurement practitioners need to know who is out there in our field (solution providers I mean), what they’re up to, etc. It is a challenge sometimes to get inside what we’re told by firms – talking to clients is great when we can do it, but sometimes yes, we are mainly reporting what we are told although I try and add some personal views or experience when I can to the article. (Spend Matters is also one of the very few publications that does publish critical stuff about providers sometimes, as evidenced by one very large firms that won’t deal with us because of “something we said” a while back!) And actually, this is the first article about Efficio I’m pretty sure that we’ve published in over 4 years, so it is not exactly saturation coverage. But I don’t want to sound defensive – we’re very conscious of trying to balance things, so we do limit the number of solution provider focused articles we publish per week, just as we do for public sector, for guest articles (generally a max of 4 per week), even music …etc! It is not a strict quota but it isn’t purely random either, so if you look over a period of two or three days, you should always get a good mix of content. And we’d love to know what readers would like more or less of, so any similar thoughts are very welcome – thanks for taking the time to comment!

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