Consultants are supposed to be troubleshooters, and in these unprecedented times when every stakeholder in the industry is facing a plethora of challenges, arise few highly relevant questions – what have consultants done in the recent 5-6 months of lockdown? How have they helped the industry and ensured their own survival too? It is good to know that consulting companies have supported the industry well with their different initiatives; few worked on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) front also.
One of the most common and worth appreciating traits of consultants is that they quickly adopt changes, followed by implementing the required changes in an efficient manner. It includes free services as per a factory’s challenges, common solutions through free webinars to guide the industry about new products.
For example, Wazir Advisors, Gurugram, did a market analysis in the medical textiles industry, which includes masks, coveralls, etc. The company also conducted a study for the British High Commission to help them understand the readiness of factories in India to export well-approved and certified products to the UK.
Prashant Agarwal, Jt. Managing Director of the company, said “We are also helping some clients set up smart factories in India and Oman to take advantage of the shift of business from China. Setting up new smart factories to build capacities, so that India can take advantage of shifting of orders from China, is really important, and we are also doing various webinars for the same.”
Another such example of focusing on comparatively new products is The Idea Smith. The company focused on soft toys related project which proved fruitful for its client, Avanti Pet Products. Having initiated this project with the capacity of 50,000-60,000 toys per month, the company has expanded in a big way and is adding a new factory for the same. Nimish Dave, CEO of the company, informed that their efforts to motivate the industry regarding “world-class manufacturing” has helped the industry. At the same time, it supported factories with its Pro Bono consulting and helped around 50 companies regarding various issues.
Like others, March 2020 was the first time when all the consultants of Rajesh Bheda Consulting (RBC) were withdrawn from different countries and projects. As the realisation of the gravity of the situation and threats it brought to the fore started to set in, its team of 30 was homebound. The company quickly adapted to the work-from-home culture, conducted meetings and set to prepare for the long haul which is being faced by the world. It conducted virtual training programmes for the management teams of its clients which made significant improvements in the teams’ capabilities and implemented improvement action plans. Simultaneously, it has also prepared for the online delivery of its larger projects.
RBC team also conducted various surveys in India and Bangladesh, researched the PPE apparel manufacturing and protective wear, and started supporting industry partners for the same.
“We, at RBC, were extremely concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on the apparel exports. Seeing the order cancellations globally and especially watching the proactive actions of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), we decided to undertake a study in India on order cancellations,” shared Dr. Rajesh Bheda, Founder and CEO, RBC. Dr. Bheda also spoke at different forums through webinars.
Another consultancy company Methods Apparel Consultancy was among one of the first to have online courses (at a very nominal cost) in collaboration with AMHSSC and COE Tirupur for industry professionals. This was taken up with great enthusiasm both for upgrading their knowledge and for spending the lockdown time usefully.
“We went one step ahead and started free webinars on a range of industry topics like industrial engineering (IE), costing, etc. Then came the upsurge in manufacturing of PPE, and a total lack of knowhow/standards. As luck may have it, one of our biggest ongoing projects in Vietnam, which had a huge PPE production operation, gave a ringside view of both PPE business and real-time manufacturing operations, the knowledge reflected in our webinars. This was most welcomed by the industry, as it was specific, timely and the need of the hour,” said Sunaina Khanna, Director of the company.
Methods Apparel Consultancy was able to utilise the huge talent/knowledge base it had, ensuring the companies got the best of services at a fraction of the normal cost; it added to its team strength rather than reducing during such a crisis.
The apparel manufacturing industry gives business to the consultants. So, it is the responsibility of consultants to support the industry in a bad time and help them to spring back. Keeping this in mind, the Bengaluru-based EFFICIENCIE was also engaged with the industry in online training, participating in review meetings, finding a suitable candidate for a position, helping in getting an order, sharing information about low-cost automation, and knowledge sharing, etc. Knowing that the industry is going through a rough patch, many of these services were free or at a reduced rate depending on the ability of the client to pay.
“In a situation like COVID-19, consultants are the first ones to lose contracts and probably have to wait till the industry starts running again for reengagement. But we maintain a relationship with our clients and support them wherever they need, without putting a price to it,” said Devadas PM, Director of the company.
Some consultancy firms helped the industry on multi-fronts, right from prevention of coronavirus to business growth agenda. Skilift Consulting, Tirupur, is one of them. Nanthakumar, Director of the company, said “We have circulated COVID-19 safety measures instruction leaflet free of cost. We also designed COVID-19 safety measures SOPs and implemented in our clients’ factories. Apart from that, to support professionals, we also conducted free training programmes through online platforms and offered free videos. We have also provided free training and consulting to their long-term clients for 3 months to help them recover faster post-lockdown.”
Apart from these activities to support the industry, it is interesting to see that some consultancy companies also came forward to support the society and NGOs.
RBC partnered with IVillage, the economic empowerment wing of Pardada Pardadi Educational Society, a non-profit organisation in Bulandshahr (Uttar Pradesh). The organisation works for the betterment of the underprivileged sections of the society there.
RBC Co-founder Maneesha Sharma and the overall team were supporting and training the women of IVillage through video calls and visual communication; thus, started the journey of material sourcing, design development, anti-viral finish research to embroidery development under RBC guidance. Maneesha developed an embroidery range and also curated a mask range with fabrics dyed with natural herbs like turmeric, saffron, etc. which have been a part of IVillage product range selling on Amazon. As a result of the overall efforts, an order of 3 lakh masks could be fulfilled for Uber, and IVillage has been able to provide masks to Government agencies as well as sell them through various other platforms.
“RBC helped us in optimising our production process by sharing technical knowledge on stitching processes, management, design and R&D – all within the barriers of virtual training, through videos and phone calls. With their inputs and insights, we were able to considerably increase our quality, and reduce our stitching time by 300 per cent – a feat that helped us deliver an order of 3 lakh face masks in less than a month! RBC’s solutions were not only practical, but also innovative. They went the extra mile by helping us with R&D in deciphering the best shape and size of masks for various age groups, tapping the pulse of the market, and in curating a one-of-a-kind range of ayurvedic face masks. RBC’s guidance has helped IVillage sail through the numerous challenges we have been facing since the onset of the pandemic, and we are extremely grateful for their enthusiastic support,” said Arya Singh of IVillage.
Following the noble cause differently, the entire team of Method Apparel Consultancy also donated their one-day salaries to the COVOD-19 fund.
Consultants, undoubtedly, have challenges like others, but being troubleshooters, it is a part of their job to consistently help the industry, and all the above-mentioned details pretty much proved that they have done their job well.