EY announced a strategic business relationship with Microsoft last year to leverage the tech giant’s platform strength to deliver a broader range of services to clients. Recently, EY announced the acquisition of UMT Consulting to vastly expand the megafirm’s portfolio and program management capabilities. This strategic play, says Greg Cudahy, EY’s Global Leader of Technology, Media & Telecommunications, puts unprecedented levels of control in the hands of clients and enables EY to offer real-time portfolio advice in a way that was never before possible. Consulting recently caught up with Cudahy, who led the deal for EY, to talk about the long-term implications of the deal for EY and its clients.
Consulting: What would you say made UMT Consulting such an attractive acquisition target for EY?
Cudahy: We’ve known of UMT in the marketplace—we have a very large program management practice, I’m talking above and beyond the standard systems integration program management, I mean strategic program management. It’s always been one of our hottest practices. It’s run much more like a strategic capability than the garden variety project management capability. As we had a chance to see each other in the marketplace it was strategic capabilities but also a really high culture fit. There were quite a few other firms involved in pursuing UMT, and ultimately what it came down to was not only go-to-market business fit, but the culture fit has been phenomenal. We saw this as much more of a strategic play than a capacity play because of the way UMT operates at more of the VP and above type of program management capability as opposed to lower levels of project management.
Consulting: How does adding UMT to EY bolster EY’s strategic partnership with Microsoft?
Cudahy: It was actually critical to it. I believe 92 percent of the Fortune 500 are platformed on Microsoft in some fashion. The tools UMT uses and now that our program management team uses are frequently Microsoft but now through combination of cloud based tools, typically Microsoft Editor, you have the ability at even the C-suite to see even real time changes in project performance. You could be sitting in Manhattan and using the cloud run analytics and see what’s going on with projects in Brazil, China, wherever in close to real time.
We call that the Program Performance Center. This makes the ability to manage your portfolio based not only on actual project performance around the world but also the economic environment. For us, one of the reasons we saw the UMT acquisition as strategic was that whether there’s an up-turn time when you’re growth oriented or there’s a recession and you’ve got to prune your portfolio or put things on hold, this capability allows us to help inform clients with much more real-time data as to what’s performing, what’s generating cost savings, what’s generating revenue lift, which just couldn’t be done without the capability much less without the cloud. Between UMT’s capabilities, our previous capabilities, and the Microsoft cloud platform, they all come together to create something we haven’t seen anybody else offer in the marketplace.
Consulting: How is this UMT Consulting and EY partnership unique?
Cudahy: It has been incredibly unique. It’s a unique intersection because if you think of traditional project management resources it tends to be sort of junior, lower-level individuals with a few years’ experience, but this is really people from the top strategy oriented campuses on one end helping with the project and portfolio management, and on the other hand we have the ability to provide a pyramid to actually work on individual programs.
Consulting: How will this partnership’s impact be felt by EY clients?
Cudahy: This is something that allows us to create more of a long-lasting strategic relationship with our clients where we can be an advisor to them on their portfolio. Importantly, it allows the client to scale up how much or how little they want to be reliant on what we do with them. We can set up this capability and they can run it themselves, we can run it for a period with them, or we can run it for the long term. This is a sustaining capability—this is not something you do as a one-time study type of thing, this is something that fundamentally changes the client’s ability to get things done over the long haul.
Consulting: What would you say is at the core of this UMT acquisition as a strategic capability enhancement for EY?
Cudahy: I think we’re in an era of permanent volatility. Is growth coming back? Are we in a new recession because of China and the global oil slump? The best thing with this capability is you don’t have to be right, you just have to be prepared. This absolutely allows clients to be much more prepared to be agile; you can scale up or down using real data. You can put some things in mothballs, you can shut them down outright, or you can re-invest in things that actually help cut costs during a time of economic stress. That’s why we look at this as a very strategic capability.