Good advice does not have to come from outside - Inhouse Consulting at Deutsche Post DHL
International, analytical, dynamic - many business consulting firms use these adjectives to recruit highly qualified young individuals. Inhouse Consulting at Deutsche Post DHL goes one step further: For 15 years now, it has been offering direct access to the most exciting change processes at the world's leading postal and logistics provider. Both sides profit from this situation: Young consultants get to know the Group from the ground up, and the company can systematically train its leaders of tomorrow.
Inhouse Consulting is in: Increasing numbers of companies are learning to view their employees' experience and knowledge about change processes as capital that they can profitably use. Internal business consulting units are an optimal way to link operational and organizational expertise with business networks and process experience in a company. The usefulness of these internal consultants does not stop at a company's doorstep: Internal company consultants are increasingly offering their know-how to external clients as well. This is nothing new for Deutsche Post DHL: For more than 15 years, DPDHL Inhouse Consulting has been providing creative input and strategic advice not only to the business divisions of the Bonn-based Group, but also to external clients. The unit that began modestly with just three consultants has evolved into an internationally respected strategy and management consulting operation.
Added value for internal and external clients
But DPDHL Inhouse Consulting provides only limited competition to external consulting firms. Depending on the job at hand, it occasionally works with these firms. "Both types of consultants have their place," says Sabine Müller, Managing Director of DPDHL Inhouse Consulting. "But when dealing with difficult change processes, our consultants have their own special edge: They really know the Group's formal and informal structures and have their own extensive internal network." Other strengths of the unit's more than 110 employees include their deep understanding of logistics and their firm positioning in the Group. "Our colleagues put their faith in our advice - also because we don't leave the company after we conclude a consulting project and are there to take responsibility for the results," Müller says. "As a result, planned restructuring projects can be carried out faster and without major friction."
The internal consulting focus of DPDHL Inhouse Consulting is management and strategy planning for every business division in the Group. The main focus of this work is generally developing new business models and increasing the profitability of individual departments. In one project, Inhouse Consulting jointly with Corporate Finance and Corporate Controlling developed an improved cash management approach resulting in the introduction of suitable cash operating figures. The following year, the company was able to increase its free cash flow significantly. This led to a higher dividend distribution and reduction of net debt. Building on this - also with support by Inhouse Consulting - a strategic and dynamic capital allocation process is currently being built. In its external consulting work, the team limits itself to optimizing the supply chain management of clients or of potential customers of the Bonn-based logistics company. On behalf of a Fortune 500 technology company in the United States, Inhouse Consulting compared the efficiency of supply chains with best practices in the industry and worked with other experts at Deutsche Post DHL to develop seven initiatives designed to optimize the tech company's supply chains. The impact: cost savings totaling several million dollars.
The launching pad for tomorrow's executives
For many college graduates, Inhouse Consulting provides an ideal springboard for a career at the leading postal and logistics provider. "We enable young colleagues to not only really get to know the Group, but also create their own network," Sabine Müller says. Diversity is a top priority: More than half of the team members do indeed have a background in economics. But mathematicians, engineers and humanists are also welcome. Cultural diversity is important, too: The team comprises people from 17 different countries. They all are above-average performers, have excellent analytical skills and enjoy cross-company and cross-cultural working relationships.In addition: Women make up 30 percent of Inhouse Consulting's workforce - a special achievement in the male-dominated world of consulting. The percentage of women in management is even slightly higher: Four of nine managers are women. "We work hard to clearly plan the project work and to keep the amount of travel relatively low," says Sabine Müller, who began her career at Inhouse Consulting before she led the organization department of the Bonn-based company for a short period of time. But her return to internal consulting work is an exception to the general rule: 20 to 30 employees leave Inhouse Consulting every year in order to assume operational responsibility in the Group. The average time of service in the unit is four years. It is just the right amount of time to qualify for managerial responsibilities in the company - and to expand the network of more than 300 Inhouse Consulting alumni.
Internal network and international reach
But the network of former internal consultants is not just getting bigger - the consulting operation itself is also growing in professional terms. As a profit center, Inhouse Consulting now works at four locations on three continents: In addition to Bonn, the offices are in Shanghai, Singapore and Fort Lauderdale in the United States. "We are growing with the Group and are helping share the knowledge and best practices found in the divisions of Deutsche Post DHL with everyone," Sabine Müller says. The divisions of Deutsche Post DHL are under no obligation to use Inhouse Consulting: They can make their own decisions about turning over a project to the team or to external consultants. But Inhouse Consulting gets a large amount of such work anyway: "We win more than one-fourth of all Group jobs involving strategy and management consulting - even though our rates are not lower than those of external competitors," Sabine Müller says. "This makes one point clear: The added value offered by our consultants is recognized by our colleagues and really amounts to added value."