Our world is characterized by constantly changing macro- and microeconomic conditions. This means that all organizations need to manage change and development as the risk of not doing so could result in business stagnation, loss of market share, and worse – losses in profitability. However, managing change and new developments requires a highly strategic perspective. Oftentimes, organizations rely on management consultants to help them navigate these changes to succeed in their given industry.
But what is a management consultant, what processes do they follow to lead to such organizational success, and what skills do they bring to the table? This post explores the answers to these questions and more. Let’s dive in!
What is a management consultant?
In our personal and professional lives, we often rely on others to give us advice and suggestions for how to solve certain problems. These “others” are considered to possess external objectivity and offer independent viewpoints in order to help us view a problem or challenging situation from a different perspective. This, in turn, leads to better understanding of the case in question and a much stronger ability to address and overcome it with a successful result.
With this in mind, management consultants can be viewed as these “independent others”. They are hired for their services and skills by organizations for a given period of time. The purpose of this is to help these organizations spot things they otherwise would not have, find solutions to persistent challenges, as well as excel in their sectors by implementing recommendations and proposed solutions.
Although management consulting primarily takes place in the private or business sector, it can have a rather wide reach. As such, management consulting can go beyond business and serve government, private equity firms, and even non-profit organizations.
What do management consultants help organizations with?
Although a management consultant is one title carried by these highly talented specialists, these individuals perform multiple different roles and tasks for a given organization. Some of these may include but are not limited to:
- Assisting with the development of a corporate strategy;
- Devising a stronger organizational economic policy;
- Advising on and leading to a successful close of mergers and acquisitions;
- Developing a solid digital strategy;
- Providing guidance and implementable strategies for sales and marketing;
- Improving the processes involved in supply chains, sourcing, and procurement;
- Offering support for organizational research and development;
- Strategizing on the improvement, retention, training, and optimization of their human capital and talent management;
- Aiding with organizational policies related to compensation and benefits;
- Promoting a culture of continuous learning and development;
- Preparing feasibility studies;
- Designing systems for budgeting and control;
- Developing cost accounting systems;
- Preparing appraisals for company policies;
- Furnish advice on incorporating basic principles of organization and effective work planning;
- Assist management in finding solutions to specific business issues, which may include capital utilization, product pricing, documentation, and legality;
- Liaise with government departments on behalf of a business organizations;
- Implement change or strategic change;
- Improve existing operations; and
- Many others.
In essence, a management consultant who works with an organization provides structured analyses as well as offers strategies and suggestions to solve business management challenges. The ultimate goal of management consulting is to optimize performance, productivity, and profit while at the same time, minimize risks and losses.
What are the steps involved in management consulting?
As a strategic business “partner” who is taken on board an organization to help it succeed in a cutthroat marketplace, a management consultant usually follows a set of methodologies and processes for the effective performance of their role.
It all starts with meeting the client and gaining a deeper understanding of the problem that the organization is experiencing and where the organization would like to be in the short, medium, and long term. This is then followed by the signing of a “deliverable agreement”, which specifies what the targets for the consulting services will be. Next, a project plan with milestones is developed, followed by the “discovery” process. This process deeply analyzes the problem and looks at options and possible solutions.
When these solutions are identified, they need to be designed for implementation. This will involve taking into account the client’s budget for solution implementation and their unique case. The final phase is the development of the implementation plan and the actual implementation of the solution where it is delivered and practically realized.
It must be noted that the implementation phase is quite complex and will require a unique approach given every organization’s position and requirements. For example, standard industry practice usually begins with small-scale implementation of the solution through a pilot project, which is executed by targeting a small group of stakeholders to mitigate risk. The successes and failures of this pilot project are then carefully studied in the “learning” phase, which is followed by the correction of issues prior to a wider rollout in the “iteration” phase. After this, mass-scale implementation is carried out, and this is followed by continuous monitoring in order to identify any glitches or issues.
Management consulting vs. strategy consulting
Despite management consulting possessing wide-ranging characteristics, it is often confused with one of its subsets, which is strategy consulting. However, the two have different areas of focus and scopes, and therefore, although interconnected and often rely on each other, they should not be considered the same thing.
For example, strategy consulting is often considered the “what”, while management consulting is considered the “do” part of consulting services offered. Whereas strategy consultants look at the broader picture and environment in which an organization is operating, management consultants are approached in order to assist with executing the strategic vision.
In short, the ultimate goal of strategy consulting “is to give clients a clear path to more market share and a competitive edge in their industry.” Therefore, there are significant differences between these two types of consultancy services and these are mainly differentiated in terms of their purpose, focus, personnel, approach, industry, and outcomes.
Also important to clarify and distinguish at this point is what management consulting is not. For example, although it may appear to share similarities with executive training and coaching, these business practices differ from the broader management consulting role.
What skills should a management consultant possess?
Since management consulting services are offered by highly specialized and trained individuals to help organizations improve efficiencies and profits, certain skill sets are common across the board for successful management consultants. As such, these individuals often possess skills that include:
- Intellectual competence (quantitative and problem-solving skills, strategic thinking and planning, business and data analysis, analytical processing, action research, process improvement, decision-making, statistical thinking, etc.)
- Interpersonal skills (listening, excellent communication (written and verbal), team building, creativity, conflict management, leadership, emotional intelligence, networking skills, discipline, etc.)
- Relationship management
- Technical competence
- Project management
- Knowledge and competence in business systems, marketing, sales, contracting, budgeting, financial management, etc.
- The ability to work under pressure and possessing strong time management skills
- Prioritization and organizational skills
- Deep understanding of performance metrics
- Knowlege of how to turn data into actionable intelligence.
Looking for your next management consultant?
Because “consulting” is a broad word that can encompass a wide range of tasks, it can be easy to fall into a trap of approaching any professional who claims to be a management consultant. But with all that’s at stake in an organization and its change-related needs, you need the right partner next to your side to help your organization reach its full potential.
At StorsenDigital, we offer highly specialized management consulting services that are uniquely tailored to your organization’s needs. We work alongside you, whether related to business, HR, marketing, or any other area, to ensure that your organization thrives in a competitive landscape. Our experienced and thoroughly knowledgeable specialists are fully positioned to help you navigate change in your business and industry.
We’re just a call or a click away and ready to be of service. So, don’t hesitate to reach out and get in touch with us!