This year, we have focused heavily on the Consulting Practice and how it has grown from ideation to the build out of the four functional areas. In case you missed this in April’s ‘Sit Down with Summus’, the four functional areas are identified as Practice Areas, Career Architecture, Consulting Standards & Professional Development, and the highlight of this month, Collateral Development and Management.
Upon working with the Consulting Practice Lead, Brett Brenkus, and identifying high priority initiatives, the evolution of the Collateral Development and Management functional area naturally progressed. With an eye towards producing consistent value for the leaders of the firm, the urgency for creating standardized collateral arose. As well as focusing on the ease of accessing information for all areas of the firm, this functional area quickly became the most essential internal initiative since the creation of the Consulting Practice.
In this month’s edition of Sit Down with Summus, we sit down with the lead of Collateral Development and Management, one of the four pillars that makes up the Consulting Practice, Juan Patiño. If his name sounds familiar, it is because of his integral role with developing and leading marketing initiatives internally within Summus Group. This sense of leadership and drive to take action ultimately led him to the Collateral Development and Management arena in which he has stood up to the robust group it is today.
Take us back to how you joined the Consulting Practice and how you became the lead for the Collateral Development and Management function.
It was all about ‘right timing.’ At the end of 2019, an internal team led by Consulting Practice Leader Brett Brenkus had an interest in branching out of Summus Group’s current offerings and find additional value to the firm. Upon conversations with my direct internal mentor and [Brett Brenkus], I gained an understanding of the initiatives that were on the horizon and how the practice was structuring itself. From there, I was hooked and wanted in. Brett mentioned he had a role in mind for me that warranted plenty of opportunity to grow and the ability to give me ownership of something critical to the firm both internal and external. When I think about my career path and value to Summus Group, this is what comes to mind and a goal of mine to get involved with.
The opportunity consisted primarily of organizing a team to standardize our existing business development collateral in the forms of engagement case studies and associate profiles. Essentially, the need was to establish consistency and elevate our current templates above how they are today, in collaboration with our Recruiting and Account Management areas, focusing on our internal and external audiences.
Going back to timing, I was in search of transitioning my internal marketing role to allow my peers the opportunity to lead an important Summus Group area. Having worked closely with Brett on past and current initiatives, I have truly enjoyed working alongside him and under his leadership and thought this would be a great fit for my next endeavor. As a growing firm, there are always opportunities to further develop ourselves and improve upon current processes, policies and procedures. The initial pain point to solve for was how we as a company compile our data in one common repository, and how we standardize our deliverable templates to create and foster a brand to our clients worthy of recognition. The first major opportunity and focus was to standardize collateral that allows us to promote our Management Consulting services through case studies of previous projects and associate profiles for client project roles.
As the Lead, what would you say is this functional area’s central purpose?
The main purpose is twofold. First, we want to enable our firm’s efficient speed to market by staying ahead of our competition in the way we provide business development collateral to our clients. Second, we aim to set up our associates for success with “Best in Class” standardized deliverables and templates to take to their client engagements on Day 1, and to use across their internal efforts.
There have been several different templates for internal and external collateral since the inception of Summus Group that have taken all kinds of shapes and forms. With a focused effort on collecting and standardizing our various collateral templates there was a sense of bringing it all together to create a “Best in Class” brand. This required forming a group to hold accountable and to level-set expectations across firm on collateral branding, formatting and standardizing principles.
What are the long-term goals for the Collateral Development and Management area?
One major goal of the practice is to roll out a tool that has been coined internally as the ‘Master Collateral Dashboard’. It is an interactive and easy to use Excel workbook targeted for our associates’ use. It is where we will track and manage anything and everything about our collateral with as little amount of mouse clicks as possible. The content allows for anyone in the firm to have immediate information at their fingertips; to see all the projects that Summus Group has ever undertaken, key consultants of each engagement, authors of collateral, and the various skills that were used on each respective engagement. Simultaneously, this tool enables our Business Development team with a portal to access and pull relevant case studies for client proposals, and our Account Managers to view the skills of current associates per their past and current engagements to identify and match the right individuals for new and upcoming project needs. Forward thinking, this is a scalable tool that will ultimately impact our pursuit of new opportunities and our go-to-market strategy.
Another major long-term goal for this team is the creation and establishment of the aforementioned “Best in Class” deliverables that associates will have starting Day 1 of their Summus Group tenure. It starts with the foundation of developing standard Microsoft suite templates and as the ‘Summus Group Standard’ templates. Next, the collection and storing of successful business development, client project execution, and internal effort deliverables made by our associates. Finally, the consolidation of said deliverable templates across the different areas into a select few, that we will call “Best in Class,” for our teammates to leverage and mirror their future deliverables after. Our end in mind with this task is to consistently produce deliver highest quality collateral internally and externally, and to set our associates up for success.
How is this different from internal Marketing Committee function that you were a key part of before?
The difference lies mainly in the intended audience. The critical audience for Collateral Development and Management are our current and prospective clients. Secondly and just as important, are the internal associates that use and need standardized collateral in their day to day. The marketing committee is more focused on our future candidates and our communities. As a growing company, we have a huge need to market ourselves across Social Media, the web and other avenues.
As the Marketing Committee matured, we identified robust groups to run with key initiatives and nominated leaders for each. As mentioned in our January edition of ‘Sit Down with Summus’, those groups, or subcommittees, were identified as Social Media, promotional merchandise, and online presence; each with their own organizational and governing processes. There was a need for that same kind of leadership and structure on the Collateral Development and Management side; so much so that there was not a name identified at the time.
The last big difference was the interaction and exposure to our Summus Group executive leaders. As prevalent as exposure to and support from our various executive leaders is across our firm in all areas, Collateral Development and Management may come with more exposure given its high sense of urgency and primary goal for our rapidly growing team. The need for standardized collateral for our clients and our internal associates is a steppingstone to the overall success of the company’s legacy and overall corporate brand in the marketplace.
How will our readers be impacted from this initiative, and what do they have to look forward to?
If you are a client of Summus Group, or a potential client of ours, then we are striving to give not only aesthetically pleasing material, but also the most concise and unified information as possible. Our goal is to make a long-lasting impression and stand out from our competitors. Ultimately, the materials will have a unique Summus Group brand and stamp that we hope our clients will immediately recognize and know where it comes from. Conversely, if you are an internal teammate and on a client engagement, our goal is to make your life easier, to give you the confidence to walk into your project on Day 1 with high quality, client proven, successful deliverable templates that were created and standardized by your very own Summus Group peer and to give you access to our deliverable repository, categorized accordingly, to have any kind of deliverable template at your disposition at all times.
Another area we hope to plug into more is with our marketing campaigns and the ways we tactically reach out to our prospective clients, candidates and current associates via postings on our social media platforms. The uniformity and consistency with our brand will be what differentiates us. As always, our core values and culture are at the forefront of everything we do. We want to continue to showcase what makes us unique and the fruits of our labor so that all outside of our immediate Summus Group family can see and be inspired in some way.