Root Cause Analysis


A major global consultancy has a large and fast growing Global Mobility unit which generates attractive margins and growth.  However in recent years it had suffered from increased competition, variable performance in some accounts and declining margins.

In order to develop an effective response to these challenges there was a need for greater consensus on the root causes of the problems.  Our client had asked for a proposal on how we would work them to return the business to sustainable growth and profitability.  In particular addressing:

  • Poor and declining margins
  • Falling growth
  • Significant market opportunity in coming years makes speed of resolution important
  • Complexity of the service offering
  • Complexity of multiple internal stakeholders involved in key accounts
  • Complexity of ‘many-to-many’ interfaces between clients and delivery sites


We created a team combining their domain expertise with our consulting capability to leverage our combined experience of similar challenges.  The programme was structured and conducted according to the following principles:

  • Fact-based and delivered through a single team combining GM management team and advisor – ‘done with them’ not ‘done to them’
  • Building consensus on underlying issues, root causes and remedial measures with business, leadership and stakeholders
  • Regular workshops to share findings, test hypotheses and understand stakeholder and business implementation constraints
  • A regular update process to the steering group to keep them informed and to raise and address critical issues before they impact

Critical success factor for the engagement was active top-level sponsorship which is expressly committed to ‘warts and all’ fact-based analysis and reform through a robust ‘Root Cause Analysis’ of the internal capabilities and performance review against the backdrop of an external customer, competition and industry review.


The project had provided a platform for the business to come together, understand these issues and develop a roadmap to transform performance and enable our client to realize its vision of becoming the clear global leader in GM.  The project has uncovered some critical challenges:

  • The service line had become uncompetitive – manifesting in technology issues but encompassing the entire operating model making it hard to win big new contracts
  • The client structure was not appropriate for delivering high volume services leading to rampant complexity & numerous problems in delivery, sales, account management and support functions
  • A root cause analysis had been collated from over one hundred workshops, meetings and analysis sessions which has traced these problems back through a number of drivers to root causes
  • The operating model was misaligned with the service we provide – it is designed for one-off projects, not the hybrid of scalable outsourcing and advisory work that the client delivers
  • The service line had fallen behind leading to a loss of competitiveness
  • The team was under strength in commercial and operational skills
  • The incentives that drive behaviour were misaligned to the future growth ambitions of the business