Operational Excellence in PE Portfolio Companies: The Role of Expert Consultants

February 29, 2024 Joe Jordan

Private equity (PE) firms constantly seek opportunities to enhance the value of their portfolio companies. Central to this endeavor is the concept of operational excellence—a philosophy that implies a commitment to consistent improvement and the best practices in business operations. Operational excellence within PE portfolio companies is not just an attractive buzzword but a critical component that can substantially increase a firm’s returns and secure its competitive position in the market.

Operational excellence in PE portfolio companies reflects a comprehensive approach to fostering performance improvements across all business processes. It prioritizes efficiency, cost reduction, and quality enhancements, enabling companies to exceed customer expectations and scale effectively.

For PE firms, the importance of operational excellence cannot be overstated. It’s the lever they pull to increase margins, reduce waste, innovate processes, and ultimately, create sustainable value for investors. Achieving this level of performance requires a relentless focus on strategy, execution, and continuous improvement.

Role of Portfolio Operations in PE

Portfolio operations in PE involve a dedicated internal team responsible for overseeing and improving the operational functions across a PE firm's investment portfolio. The primary aim of portfolio operations teams is to bridge the gap between capital allocation and business strategy execution.

Key responsibilities of these teams include conducting due diligence during acquisitions, driving operational improvements post-acquisition, and supporting management teams to achieve strategic objectives. They are instrumental in setting performance metrics, monitoring progress, and ensuring the adoption of best practices in operational management.

What PE Consultants Do

PE consultants are external specialists called upon to deliver in-depth knowledge and expertise to PE portfolio companies. These consultants offer a plethora of services ranging from operational assessments to implementing complex business transformations.

Consultants add significant value by providing independent perspectives on market trends, introducing innovative solutions, and facilitating the transfer of best practices across industries. With their specialized skills, they can identify inefficiencies, suggest improvements, and help companies adapt to rapidly changing business environments.

Difference between PE Operations and Consulting

While both portfolio operations teams and consultants share the objective of improving company performance, they serve distinct roles. Portfolio operations teams are integral to the PE firm, offering a consistent presence and a deep understanding of the firm’s strategic objectives. They maintain alignment across the portfolio and leverage collective insights to inform decisions.

In contrast, consultants are temporary advisors with specialized expertise, often engaged for specific projects that require their unique skill set. They provide external validation, challenge existing paradigms and introduce fresh ideas. Collaboration between portfolio operations teams and consultants can yield a powerful synthesis of stability and innovation, maximizing performance improvements.

Why PE Firms Hire Consultants

The benefits of hiring expert consultants in PE portfolio companies are numerous. Consultants can rapidly diagnose problems, craft bespoke solutions, and manage change, delivering results faster than internal teams working independently.

PE firms engage consultants for various specific reasons:

  • Expertise: Consultants bring deep industry knowledge that may not exist internally, especially in niche or technical areas.
  • Objectivity: An external consultant provides unbiased insights that are crucial for transformative decisions.
  • Efficiency: With consultants’ help, PE firms can execute projects more effectively without overburdening their internal teams.
  • Scalability: Consultants enable firms to tap into a flexible workforce that can quickly scale to meet project demands, ensuring agility and competitiveness.

Private Equity Portfolio Company Management Compensation

In PE-owned companies, management compensation is a critical element. It’s designed to align the interests of executives with those of PE investors and incentivize performance.

CEO salary and bonuses in portfolio companies depend on various factors, such as the size and complexity of the business, the industry, and individual performance. As per insights from PwC’s PE portfolio company management compensation survey, competitive compensation packages carefully balance fixed salaries with performance-related incentives, often linked to the achievement of operational excellence.

The Private Equity Playbook

The private equity playbook represents a strategic framework or a set of guidelines that PE firms and their portfolio companies adopt to drive value creation.

Consultants are pivotal in both developing these playbooks and ensuring their successful execution. They help codify strategies and processes that have proven successful, identify areas of potential improvement, and assist management teams in applying these playbooks consistently. The end goal is to replicate success across different portfolio companies, thus achieving operational excellence on a larger scale.

Optimize Your Portfolio With ShipSigma

The pursuit of operational excellence in PE portfolio companies is a relentless quest that requires discipline, strategic vision, and the right blend of internal and external expertise. Expert consultants play a significant role in this continuum, partnering with portfolio operations teams to catalyze growth, improve efficiencies, and navigate complex challenges.

In today’s competitive marketplace, where fine margins can determine the success of an investment, PE firms must embrace the collaboration with expert consultants to drive operational improvements and realize untapped value.

At ShipSigma, we understand private equity's nuanced needs, and our private equity offering is designed to unlock significant savings and increase buying power for your portfolio companies.

Maximize buying power and savings with ShipSigma's private equity offering. By engineering new agreements and consolidating lower-volume shippers, you can strategically optimize your entire portfolio of companies. Trusted by thousands and backed by cost modeling and rate simulation, ShipSigma is your long-term partner for controlling freight costs and increasing savings.

To discover how we can support operational excellence across your portfolio, please reach out to us. Together, we can turn operational efficiency into a strategic advantage for your firm and your portfolio companies.

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