United States

Rapid Assessment approach offers a low-risk, high-value approach for technology clients


For Jim Cashin, a partner based in the firm’s Boston office, RSM’s Rapid Assessment® approach isn’t a service offering. It’s a way for the firm to align service delivery with its brand promise.

“The power of being understood – that’s the RSM difference,” Cashin says. “Truly understanding the client’s business, market and challenges in order to best serve them is the foundation of our value. Our Rapid Assessment approach gives us a way to walk the talk – not just for our technology clients, but for clients across all industries.”

Rapid Assessment isn’t confined to a single service. Rather, it is a philosophy designed to:

  • Rapidly understand and analyze a company’s key business issues
  • Provide quick-hit solutions that provide immediate ROI
  • Deliver a strategic roadmap to drive continued, meaningful change, whether or not the client continues to work with RSM

Solutions driven by client needs, not vendor services
“Silos aren’t just a problem for businesses,” says Cashin. “They can be a problem for business advisors. There’s a danger of not seeing a client’s business objectively in terms of their unique needs, but rather in terms of the solution you have to offer. Take cloud solutions. They’re hot right now, and they can be a great idea for many companies. But if you have a company that just made a huge investment in its own servers and applications, a cloud solution might push them to waste a significant capital investment that could still offer a valuable return.”

So how does the Rapid Assessment approach help?

“Whether we’re working on a narrow, discrete issue or approaching a broader, strategic concern, we always start with an objective analysis,” says Cashin. “We benchmark client performance and conduct a spend analysis against industry benchmarks to reality test their assumptions. We take a holistic look at both their technology and supporting processes. That lets us identify the quick hit opportunities that deliver immediate value and develop a strategic roadmap that enables them to drive change moving forward.”

When dealing with IT clients, Cashin points to a number of key issues that can help to frame the collaborative interchange that makes Rapid Assessment so effective.

Toward transformation
“Through benchmarking and spend analysis, we often find that too much of an IT budget just goes to keeping the lights on – to keeping existing operations running. Not enough of it is devoted to delivering strategic value. While the budget itself might be in line with a business’s peers, the way it’s being used is not optimized.”

Cashin points to a run-grow-transform model. “We want to move the client from a situation where their IT dollars aren’t just helping them to run their business toward a position where their technology investment is helping to grow, but to transform, their business.”

A variety of other decisions can lend important insights.

“IT organizations face a variety of choices,” Cashin continues. “Build versus buy, in source or out source, subscription or cloud solutions versus capital investment. The trick is not presupposing there is a right answer, but rather objectively determining exactly where the client’s operations are and how well they are aligned with the client’s current needs and strategic goals. That means considering how things like the make-up and skill sets within the client organization are affecting both current operations and how they will influence potential solutions. It means considering the organization’s capacity to handle change. It means looking at their current strategic goals – are they looking to expand through acquisition? Trying to contain costs? Preparing the company for possible sale? All of it ties in.”

RSM’s work with NetScout, a market leader in unified service delivery management enabling comprehensive end-to-end network and application assurance, offers an example of the value of that holistic approach.

"RSM performed a Rapid Assessment to help us validate our strategic direction regarding the integration of a critical acquisition,” says Jean Bua, NetScout’s CFO. “Their approach was pragmatic and they provided results rapidly through this assessment. Ultimately, as a result of this engagement, we were able to quickly mobilize a team and deliver value on an important initiative for our organization."

Low risk, high return
Rapid Assessment’s speed, early ROI and long-term value help to make it a low-risk, high-return option for clients.

“Depending on the scope of the issues being examined,” Cashin says, “a Rapid Assessment engagement could run from a couple of days to four weeks. We purposely structure our approach so that the fees are very reasonable. This allows us to gain the understanding we need to deliver truly valuable strategic insights and immediate opportunities to make real improvements. This combination of quick, clear return with reasonable fees makes this a low risk for clients. Our firm is based on the belief that truly understanding our clients will lead to the long-term relationships that will allow us both to thrive. Rapid Assessment makes that promise real.”

The reaction of Grace Cotter Regan, Head of School at St. Mary’s High School - Lynn, MA sums up the spirit of the Rapid Assessment model. “The Rapid Assessment approach was a unique way for us as a management team to reexamine the way we managed our business and allowed us to develop a clear roadmap around business processes, reporting and technology,” says Regan.”RSM’s collaborative approach provided us options that will allow us to be better at our core business, which is providing a great education and growth opportunities to students, faculty and the community. This process was essential for our school to put a strategic roadmap in place to ensure our long-term sustainability.”