Consulting Services

Advanced Analysis Applications draws on the talent of experienced business professionals, analysts, and certified specialists both from our staff and associated consultants.  You benefit from qualified professionals with top expertise without the big overhead costs of large, big name consulting firms.  The experts you meet at the start of the engagement are the ones who work your task.

Risk Assessment, Disaster Response, Business Continuity

Comprehensive risk assessment and business impact analysis is vital to identify key risks and design cost effective mitigation plans.  We help clients do comprehensive risk assessment of potential threats, including reasonable, foreseeable “Black Swan” threats.  We design a full spectrum risk monitoring and technology watch program to gather intelligence and early indicators of potential threats, with recommendations on how to economically collect information needed, monitor trends, and adjust risk mitigation plans and assessments accordingly.  With a sound threat watch and analysis processes, you can reasonably forecast pending threats, convince management of the need for preparations, and improve your ability to recover from—and sometimes profit from—a Black Swan event.  A variety of techniques widely used in the intelligence field are applicable to identifying threats. Black Swan disaster probabilities cannot be estimated, but they can be anticipated, and should be included in your organization’s Enterprise Risk Management plan.

We use and train clients on A3’s methodology to identify a robust and cost effective risk mitigation plan. Using existing risk mitigation plans, we develop additional options to reduce significant threats.  Our multi-criteria decision analysis scorecard analyzes threats, impacts and likely mitigation of various preparation options.  The methodology A3 uses is ideal for designing the most robust and cost effective portfolio of mitigation methods possible—covering a wide range of threats.

Our certified business continuity experts and consultants experienced in a wide variety of exercise and training techniques can help you conduct “table top” or other training exercises. We coach clients on how to use tools, techniques, and processes recommended to gain support.

Financial Threat, Investment Risk Analysis

A3 consultants both train and consult in advanced risk analysis and financial threat assessments drawing on lessons from the intelligence community, Nassim Taleb’s key book “The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable,” and hedge funds.  Financial markets are increasingly volatile as new technologies, global dependencies, growing hedge fund and derivatives liabilities, and Black Swan threats cause market disruptions.  Risk assessments need to include far more than just alpha, beta, and client risk tolerances.  We help clients assess their particular financial threats and leverage the best ways to hedge risks, make “anti-Fragile” investments, and reduce overall portfolio risk.

Black Swan disasters and financial market disruptions are rarely total surprises—there are often indications and warnings, time for critical analysis, portfolio rebalancing and hedging, by those who are trained and diligent. Our consultants show clients how to guard against common sources of bias and apply analysis best practices in assessing both traditional and Black Swan risks, and designing investment portfolios.  We provide software, set up, and show clients how to apply a Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis risk & portfolio analysis tool to do comprehensive financial risk assessment and optimal portfolio design.

Our clients, and graduates of our financial risk analysis training courses, receive free one year membership in A3’s Financial Threat Indications and Warning Center which provides information on pending financial threats and possible measures to protect investments from losses, and how to gain on financial disruptions.

Mergers & Acquisitions Due Diligence Reviews

Most corporate acquisitions fail to add value; largely because acquirers fail to conduct rigorous, comprehensive, professional, outside due diligence.  People who have negotiated the deal cannot objectively assess the full risks and estimate likely earnings and impacts of common merger problems.  We have Certified Merger & Acquisition Advisors with training and experience in conducting thorough due diligence reviews to ensure you understand all the risks and have realistic earnings projections.

Using our proprietary checklist of issues and risks to investigate and analyze, and advanced decision analysis tools; A3 consultants conduct exhaustive investigation and question every assumption. We review all deal information, but make our own projection of realistic earnings, and likely implementation problems.  The full risks and exposures of a target company will never be voluntarily disclosed or uncovered by deal proponents in your organization.  A3 will ensure you have a comprehensive risk assessment, realistic earnings projections, and forewarning of likely problems and potential downsides.

Decision Analysis

A pro forma income statement is not enough to analyze all facets of an issue.  The myriad of considerations that must be weighed in major decisions cannot be tallied up by PowerPoint or in your head.  You need decision and risk analysis tools to carefully evaluate assumptions and uncertainties, prioritize and weigh all relevant criteria.  Value chain analysis, operations research, decision-trees, competitor assessments, and multi-criteria decision analysis techniques provide vital insights.  Outside experts provide valuable objectivity and help avoid errors that routinely lead to over optimistic assumptions, underestimated expenses, and bad decisions.

Strategic Planning and Business Development

A3 consultants have extensive experience in developing strategies, launching new lines of business, and acquiring companies.  We can assist with professional market research, financial analysis, business plan development, and negotiations.  You should not make a major investment without an outside due diligence review to ensure you have not overlooked critical issues or made over optimistic assumptions (the norm).

Business strategy is an integrated set of decisions that must take into account not only your own capabilities, but how they compare to competitors’, your target customer needs, and changing technological and environmental conditions.  We analyze your and competitor’s value chains and competitive advantages, what value proposition for customers best leverages your strengths, and what business model promises to deliver that value proposition cost-effectively.  Whether you plan to launch a new product, make acquisitions, or other important investments, your company can benefit by thorough, advanced decision analysis and expert counsel.

Business “Wargames” to Develop Better Strategies

A wargame is a strategic exercise simulating several years of competition among companies in the industry.  Company staff split into teams representing competing companies and then compete in a simulation that involves developing and simulating implementation of long-term strategies--with competitors, customers, and the market reacting to and sometimes fighting these strategies.  This yields far more intense, innovative, and realistic insights than typical strategic plan “brainstorming” sessions.  The competing company teams are evaluated by financial markets and consumers.  The results is much better understanding of competitors, industry trends, and strategy, and what your organization needs to do now to get prepared.

The 2-3 day wargame pits competitor teams against each other in a simulated future market and environment of expected and “what if” threats and opportunities.  After studying their company’s capabilities, strategies, philosophy, and opportunities, team members “play” them, trying to achieve profit and key objectives while other company teams work to develop and implement their strategic initiatives (new products, marketing strategies, company acquisitions, technology developments, etc.).  Competitors and the market place react, changes in the market environment occur, such as new technologies, a stock market crash, regulatory changes, etc. At end of each turn (usually a 3 year period), the “market” and “control” teams use their subjective expert judgement to decide what worked and didn’t, estimating the company sales, profit and market valuation.  Results of the period and other news is briefed to participants along with some future trend information, and the next round of play begins. The “winner” at the end is the team with the largest percentage increase in market valuation.

Everyone benefits from intense learning and insights into opportunities and threats, advantages and risks of different strategic moves.  A CEO lauded the benefits of strategic war gaming in his annual report letter to shareholders:

  • “sharpen management’s strategic skills”
  • “we see our competitors more clearly”
  • “improving our planning processes”
  • “refining our strategies”
  • “support for our emphasis on information systems enhancement and leadership”

A business wargame can also be used to test your risk management plans.  Many clients find that the insights they gain about other people in the organization are another huge benefit. You can achieve significant integration and ”get to know you” benefits by mixing team members from different operating companies and departments.

Conduct “Table Top” or Other Training Exercises

We design and help client execute realistic and motivational as well as educational training exercises ranging from a small part of management staff to all associates in the organization.

A3 has certified business continuity and exercise/training experts to design exercises and training that achieves learning objectives while motivating participants.  A well designed and implemented exercise can be an interesting and enjoyable experience.

The best developed plans will have shortcomings—and you need to discover them in training, not when a disaster strikes.

Operations Research, Bayesian Network Analysis and Model Design

A3 consultants have applied the full range of operations research analysis skills, across a broad array of issues and industries.  In addition to decision trees, multi-criteria decision analysis, value chain analysis, and traditional optimization models, we can help you build more complex models such as Bayesian Belief networks that allow use of both hard data and subjective estimates, and let you test causality and look at non-linear impacts--a much better way to model complex, difficult to predict risks and mitigation measures.  Bayesian models can learn and evolve as new data comes in, analyzing databases and adjusting parameter and probability estimates.

Competitor Research and Analysis

Failure to understand competitor capabilities and competitive advantages, and how they are likely to react to your company’s new initiatives, is a common and usually fatal mistake.  We have experience and specialized expertise in gaining insights into both competitor capabilities and intentions.  We’ve compared Broker-Dealer technology platforms, analyzed value chains for key competitors in an industry, and prepared comprehensive assessments of likely competitor reactions to contemplated new lines of business.  Our analysis, investigative, and assessment skills enable us to provide far more in depth understanding of competitors cost structure and likely strategic moves.