We Are Flat Five

FlatFive

“If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.”
Albert Einstein

Welcome to Flat Five

So there are two different ways of explaining what we do here at Flat Five consultancy. We could say we’re a boutique management consultancy that delivers focused, results-orientated leadership across a range of different disciplines, primarily Project and Supplier Management, Business Intelligence and Service Governance. This is all true but it’s a bit, well... overdone isn’t it? You probably started yawning half-way through.

In keeping with Albert’s quote above it’s more our style to say we can make things happen quickly & efficiently, talk productively to your business partners, use your data in smart & innovative ways to explain what your business is - and isn’t - good at and then help you control and improve the experience your customers have when dealing with you.

If you prefer the second one and think we could help then talk to us.

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Flat Five Consultancy is really Liam Murray, a senior finance professional with 20yrs+ high-profile experience in Project Management, Service Management and Business Intelligence roles across a range of different sectors. Liam delivers these services via his own limited company – Flat Five Consultancy Ltd – and is available for established contracting opportunities or short-term speaking / research engagements. Even although this is a ‘one man show’ at the moment Liam has an extensive network of contacts and colleagues established over 20 years with some of the UK’s leading FTSE organisations – if you think we can help in any capacity please get in touch.

Why ‘Flat Five’?
This is a common question! Liam didn’t want to follow the usual pattern of calling his company ‘Murray Services’ but was at a loss for a different name. As is so often the case he does some of his best thinking with his guitar in his hand and he just happened to be playing a b5 chord at the time so ‘Flat Five’ was born.

Project Management

Too often project managers elevate process above outcome, the bureaucracy above the benefits. No matter how complex the environment the tools and techniques in most methodologies should be used intelligently and selectively, always in pursuit of your end goal rather than just because you have a template or because you’ve always done things that way!

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Here at Flat Five we have almost 20yrs experience in both formal and informal project environments, delivering projects ranging from organisational change, software implementations to outsource agreements and process improvement initiatives. We like to work closely with our clients to clearly establish the brief, the timeline and the budget, put in place the governance and reporting required, form the team and then react to and manage change across the whole project lifecycle. We will manage risk, time, cost and quality throughout and maintain complete control and transparency at all times, using lean / agile methodologies as appropriate.

Our services can be delivered in whole or in part and we have particular experience in the following areas:

Methodology Roll-Out

We have exposure to a range of different methodologies broadly aligned with Prince2 and all following the usual lifecycle approach (initiation, planning, execution and closure). If you are a small-to-medium sized enterprise without an established PMO function we can support you in terms of establishing your own unique methodology and toolset to help you to successfully deliver projects across your organisation.

Review & Recovery

It’s not at all unusual for projects to drift off course, often creating huge operational and commercial risks. When this happens it’s important to act quickly to identify the reasons for the drift and the solutions required to address it. Flat Five can help you identify and address common areas of concern including resource availability, inadequate control environments and scope-creep to help turnaround troubled projects quickly and with confidence.

Supplier Management

It’s increasingly rare for companies to own & control, end-to-end, every aspect of the service they offer their customers. The global economy provides even small-to-medium sized enterprises with the opportunity to outsource some of their services and leverage the expertise and scale from other organisations, nearby or on the other side of the world. For larger organisations this has been the norm for almost 30 years and supplier management is no longer the narrow, supply-chain focused discipline it once was.

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Here at Flat Five we understand that shift and have almost a decade of experience on both sides of that critical Supplier / consumer divide and across the full timeline of supplier engagement, from RFx and procurement through to Termination and Exit. We’ve led the governance & control for FTSE100 organisations engaging third party service companies, spent a number of years with one of the UK’s leading BPO organisations consolidating their reporting functions and supporting their relationship management efforts with their key corporate customers and been part of the team successfully delivering one of the UK’s largest Life & Pensions outsource agreements.

Successful supplier management, from the buyer’s perspective, is about maximising the value at each stage of the relationship, recognising that those opportunities are in a constant state of flux. At the outset of a relationship, with a supplier keen to impress (and perhaps secure more business) you can really leverage their scale and their broader expertise to great value, making sure you also have appropriate governance in place given the relative immaturity of the agreement. As the relationship endures you need to recognise that supplier-led value is perhaps harder to achieve but still possible provided you work with and support your strategic partners.

Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence is too often misunderstood and neglected by organisations who stand to benefit tremendously from taking it more seriously. Be they small-to-medium sized enterprises with one or two spreadsheet specialists or large corporates with multi-site / multi-function teams generating huge volumes of management information there are a range of common mistakes and pitfalls that routinely undermine how businesses use their data.

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Flat Five understand those pitfalls very well and have extensive experience (20+yrs) leading or operating alongside Management Information functions in a range of sectors (banking, Life & Pension, Tertiary Education, Business Services). Focusing on the relationship / business partner side of the equation (rather than dB management, VBA etc.) we understand the value of focused conversations with your internal / external partners to understand what intelligence they need, what outcomes they’re looking to achieve and how best to help them.

In particular we have extensive experience in the following areas:

Operational Reporting ~ Design & Delivery

For ‘in situ’ managers there are key management information basics that they need to have in place to control and improve the service their teams deliver. We can work with senior management teams to understand their challenges and longer-term goals to allow us to design and then deliver focused, action-orientated MI on a regular basis.

Commercial Management Information

The fragmentation of service delivery in large organisations (outsourcing, utility functions etc.) makes it very difficult to clearly understand the cost dynamics in your business. Having in place focused commercial MI is extremely important to manage those dynamics. At Flat Five we have extensive experience establishing Activity-Based Costing programmes, profit centre set-up and internal billed-provision arrangements to help you understand how cost operates within your business.

Service Measure Design

Businesses often spend a disproportionate amount of time worrying about the results of their existing measures rather than taking a critical look at what they’re measuring and whether or not it’s the right thing. Most management information has evolved over time, at the behest of long-gone senior managers and the focus of the data is rarely questioned. At Flat Five we can take a ‘blank-page’ approach, interrogate your leaders to understand what they want to achieve, their concerns, what broad themes they need to understand etc. and then design a suite of measures that provide everything they need to know.

Service Governance

Service Governance isn’t a settled or established discipline, certainly not in the way Supplier Management or Business Intelligence is. But given the complexity of modern-day service design this is changing fast and ensuring you have the right governance in place across your service offering is critical to the success of your business. Governance is about more than knowing you have a team meeting on a Tuesday morning and someone takes the minutes!

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At Flat Five we have many years experience designing and establishing appropriate Service Governance frameworks to suit a range of different environments. Whether you’re looking only to have a more coherent, joined up internal governance approach (aligning customer contact teams with product design, marketing etc.) or have a complex multi-site / multi-company service offering that needs a full governance overhaul Flat Five have the skills and techniques to help you succeed.

“If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.”

Albert Einstein

Think we can help? Please get in touch!

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