Structure/Framework for Cost Cutting Cases

New answer on Dec 30, 2020
6 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Dec 01, 2020

Hi, let's say the prompt is about a manufacturing company seeing rising cost. How would you answer "what factors would you anayze in order to reduce cost?". I could only think of segmenting my framework to typical cost drivers to see which one is the root cause. Would I need to mention revenue/customer/competition etc.?

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Content Creator
replied on Dec 01, 2020
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

Great question.

In general, for determining cost issues, you need to break down the problem into a tree/root-cause analysis and ask the highest level (but specific) questions first! In this way, you essentially move down the tree.

How do you identify where to look? Well, you need to look into whichever of the following 5 make the most sense based on where you are:

  1. What's the biggest? (i.e. largest piece of the pie...most likely to change the end result)
  2. What's changing the most? (I.e. could be driving the most and most likely to be fixable)
  3. What's the easiest to answer/eliminate? (i.e. quick win. Yes/No type of question that eliminates a lot of other things)
  4. What's the most different? (differences between companies, business units, products, geographies etc....difference = oopportunity)
  5. What's the most likely? (self-explanatory)

For more background on analyzing costs, look here:

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replied on Dec 01, 2020
Bain | passed >15 MBB interviews as a candidate

I'd look at it through top-down and bottom-up analyses:

  • Top-down: Benchmark of costs against competitors and other comparable companies across general cost buckets (e.g. SG&A - Finance, IT, Marketing, legal, etc...) - that gives you an idea of the potential for cost reductions
  • Bottom-up: Mapping of all activities that are performed by people in in each function and allocating time and ultimately costs. Then sort them by costs and look at the top 80% and pressure test each activity to understand if you really need this activity being performed.
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Content Creator
replied on Dec 02, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut


With such little context, I would deep dive by starting to add branches from each node.

For instance, here, i would separate in Fixed and Variable and see where the issue is (e.g., changes vs. other periods, changes in the % distribution, etc.)

Then you will have a thread and pull and pull to arrive to the solution

Hope it helps!



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Content Creator
replied on Dec 01, 2020
Accenture, Deloitte | Precision Case Prep | Experienced Interviewer & Career Coach | 15 years professional experience

Hey there,

You are going in the right direction. You could take one of the following aproaches:

  • Fixed & Variable cost route
  • Total manufacturing cost (raw material, labour & overhead)
  • Operating Model route (cost removal from customer channels, products, process, technology, FTEs, physical assets)

Depending on which option you choose, keep double clicking to come up with lets say top 3-5 factors you would analyse.

Feel free to send me a direct message if you wish discuss more and understand the cost/revenue tree diagram.

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replied on Dec 01, 2020
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


Overall I would look at the following:

  • Cost composition and the biggest costs
  • Benchmarking of the biggest costs to find the improvement potential
  • Process improvements to meet the benchmarks
  • Costs and benefits of the proposed initiatives

Feel free to book a session with me. I had a dedicated session on cost-cutting / ops cases where we can go further into details


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Content Creator
replied on Dec 30, 2020
McKinsey | top 10 FT MBA professor for consulting interviews | 6+ years of coaching

Hi, I have a specific framework to approach in an Ops consulting way a cost-cutting problem. Feel free to text me for a quick sharing



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Ian gave the best answer


Content Creator
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep
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