PA Consulting Group Europe

THE SCOOP

Hooking up to the PA system

London-based PA Consulting Group performs a wide variety of consulting services, from preparing companies for public launches, to implementing security systems, to supporting delivery of billion-dollar defence projects.  It has a presence in more than 35 countries on five continents, with full-fledged offices in 14 of them, half of which are located in Europe.  Industries served by the firm include defence, energy, financial services, government services, health care, international development, manufacturing, postal, professional services, retail consulting, sustainable tourism, telecoms, transportation and water.  In recent years, the firm has made a particular push toward being on the cutting edge of IT developments, and is becoming increasingly well known in that field.

From war machines …

PA's roots lie in war-torn Great Britain.  With the country desperate to churn out weaponry and supplies at a faster-than-usual rate, but with so many workers on the front lines, its remaining workforce was relatively unskilled.  Entrepreneur Ernest Butten and two associates founded Personnel Administration Ltd. to advise the manufacturing sector on improving management and boosting productivity.  Even in its earliest days, the consultancy was prepared to take bold stepsâ€"it solved two problems at one stroke by training women (then a very controversial act) to assemble bombers, thus maintaining productivity in factories while freeing up more men to head off to the front.
 
The firm kept growing through the postwar years and, by the 1970s, was ranked with Booz Allen Hamilton and McKinsey as one of the largest consultancies in the world, boasting offices across Europe, Australia and Asia.  That proved to be the firm's pinnacle, however, as several years of low revenue, coupled with an overall decline in the consulting industry left the firm with a fraction of its former headcount and, by the 1990s, flirting with bankruptcy.  

… to computing machines

Under the leadership of Jon Moynihan, who took over in 1992 and remains at the firm today, PA became an early competitor in the technology consulting field, developing expertise in both tech selection and application.  Accordingly, the firm has enjoyed a period of growth that has once again established it as a big player in the industryâ€"although not quite as big as it once was.  That's not to say that the company doesn't still consider itself a competitor to the biggest names in its industry, however; on its website, PA claims that its consultants' skills "span a wider range of capabilities than any major consulting firm".

Within Europe, that wide range of skills translates into a wide variety of services, with the traditional personnel side of the business still going strong, even as the company offers options across the full range of business strategy and IT spectrums.  However the services may be categorised, at heart they're all concentrated on one key thing: improving a client's business by "managing risk, mobilizing staff and integrating initiatives to deliver sustainable change quickly".

Skeptic specialists

The consultancy has worked hard to reverse an initial lack of involvement in the latest technological innovations.  It was one of the first consulting firms in the UK to embrace mobile technology, providing its professionals with early laptops, and many of its current subsidiaries are focussed on IT products and services.  As another example, in March 2007, PA promoted its head of IT strategy, Alan Middleton, to the CEO’s chair.  All the same, the firm doesn’t believe that unbridled IT is the answer.  Middleton has said, “I’m a fan of IT, but I’m still a bit cynical.† He says that companies should invest in IT to connect people, not to keep them apart.

"From insight to implementation"

The firm claims to work with companies "from insight to implementation"â€"an approach that sees it developing unique insights for clients, as well as delivering end-to-end solutions.  PA's insights don't stop coming once a job is done, however, nor are they forgotten when a contract is completed; the consultancy has sections of its website dedicated to insights on a full dozen different business areasâ€"everything from capturing customer value to lean organisation consulting to supply chain issues.  In addition, PA puts out a publication for senior executives called Viewpoint. Published on an occasional basis, the magazine examines major competitive issues facing organisations.

THE LATEST ON PA CONSULTING

Tech Excellence
May 2009

PA Consulting’s Veera Johnson was named 2009’s Asian Business Woman of the Year.  Johnson, the CEO of PA’s ProcServe unit, was crowned at a ceremony in London held by the Asian Women of Achievement Awards.  The distinction recognised Johnson’s work in developing the ProcServe technology team into a source of major profit and growth for the company.

Annual cheer

March 2009


Despite operating in a tough economy, PA turned in some impressive results for fiscal 2008.  Total revenue came in at £431.2 million, up 6.8 per cent from 2007's figures.  Fee income from consulting operations contributed £393.5 million of that, up 8 per cent from the previous year.  The difference in the two figures is explained by "project costs recharged".  

Geographically, the UK pulled in the majority of the firm's revenue, having posted 54.3 per cent, followed by the Americas (15.2 per cent, down from 19 per cent in 2007) and Scandinavia (up to 14.6 per cent, from 12.6 per cent in 2007).

IP in a secure place
March 2009

The firm enabled British packaging firm Burgopak to protect its intellectual property rights on a new style of packaging before it started tailoring it to meet individual customer demand.  The packaging, described as an "innovative slider pack", is used for high-value items, such as mobile phones and DVDs.  PA helped Burgopak by reviewing everything from existing processes and IP to Burgopak's manufacturing processes and machine architecture, as well as working with patent agents to provide the information they needed to protect the product and reduce the risk of competitive innovation.

Writing the book on economic crisis
February 2009

Mark Thomas, head of PA's strategy and marketing practice, released a "concise" book, titled Surviving and Thriving in the Economic Crisis.  Recommending strategies for CEOs to follow in navigating the recession, the book advises four key steps to emerging as a "winner".  Those are: maximising liquidity, diverting capital away from poor businesses, improving performance and "being bold enough" to pick up bargains in the event of the demise of a competitor.  Those likely to end up "losers", according to the book, will display exactly the opposite traits to those four behaviours.

Whatever happened to Morse Code?

February 2009


The firm announced that it had completed a seven-month study of radio spectrum demand, commissioned by the Ministry of Defence.  Aimed at helping the MoD figure out its future demand for radio spectrum for military capabilities, the study took into account the current use of the radio spectrumâ€"a finite resourceâ€"as well as projected future need, before arriving at a recommendation on how the MoD can optimise its future spectrum usage while minimising cost.


Spectrum experts (and we're not talking ZX)
December 2008

PA was awarded a contract to predict spectrum availability across the UK over the next 15 to 20 years.  The contract, which was awarded by telecoms industry regulator Ofcom, provides for a nine-month study, and is intended to assess possible shortages in spectrum availability until 2025â€"with scenarios including such events as the growth of cellular technologies and demand for HDTV.

Individual accolade
November 2008

PA sourcing business head Tim Palmer was given the Individual Innovator Award at the Human Resources Outsourcing Association's annual awards ceremony.  A reflection of Palmer's contribution to HR best practice across Europe, the honour was conferred following a vote by more than 200 senior executives from over 10 countries.

PA's got skills
October 2008

The firm won the Skills in Manufacturing Award at the European Strategic Manufacturing Awards in Düsseldorf.  Proving that it's about hands-on capabilities as well as consulting, PA took the award for work done in conjunction with Inalfa Roof Systems, which had asked PA to help it plan and implement a restructuring programme.  The firm's work led to leaner manufacturing structures in production and engineering, improved purchasing and a 0.5 per cent increase in Inalfa's EBIT margin.

Streamlining healthcare
June 2008

PA's ProcServe unit launched a custom-built electronic marketplace for the National Health Service.  Aimed at streamlining and delivering more effective procurement services for the UK health service, NHS eTrade allows NHS hospitals easy access to simplified, cost-effective procurement options, such as preloaded collaborative contracts across the public sector and easy connections to suppliers and e-invoicing capabilities.  The system is based on PA's award-winning Zanzibar system for the UK government.

Profitable ventures
June 2008

PA staff shareholders agreed to a demerger of the firm's ventures business (now known as Ipex).  Executive Chairman Jon Moynihan welcomed the news, saying, "The demerger is a very positive step for both PA and Ipex and will help us to operate more effectively.† Ipex is independent from PA and has its own management team, led by Martin Stapleton.  It is backed by funding of £60 million, and currently has a portfolio of ventures that includes AditOn, Aegate, Auto-txt and PlaqueTec.

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PA Consulting Group Europe


123 Buckingham Palace Road
London SW1W 9SR
Phone: 44 (0)20 7730 9000
Fax: 44 (0)207 333 5050
www.paconsulting.com

STATS


  • Employer Type: Private
  • CEO: Alan Middleton
  • 2009 Employees: 2,600

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