Consultants are described as anyone who receives money in exchange for providing services, and there are many examples of consulting services found in every industry.
1. Providing the Client With Information
2. Solving Problems
3. Diagnosing Problems
4. Making Recommendations
In every industry, there will be found many examples of consulting services, with anyone receiving money in exchange for providing their services or expertise to a company being described as a consultant.
There are more niche areas in consulting, such as management consultants and strategic consultants. These consultants, who work in companies made of bright, analytical people, work closely with clients to help find solutions to various complex business-related problems.
Management consultants will often get involved with projects that help improve clients’ performance rates and create additional value for the owners and shareholders.
Services that a management consultant might provide:
- Providing the client with information
- Solving problems on behalf of a client
- Redefining or diagnosing problems
- Making recommendations
Providing the Client With Information
Information that a consultant might provide a client includes:
- Market surveys
- Feasibility studies
- Cost studies
- Attitude Surveys
They can also analyze the competitive structure of a business or industry, and it’s this special expertise or targeted information that they can provide that companies might find useful. Alternatively, a company might choose to outsource data development because it doesn’t have the time or resources to do it in-house.
When solving problems on a client’s behalf, management consultants are often presented with challenging scenarios. Here are a few different examples:
- A client could ask whether it would be better to purchase a component or to make it in-house.
- Management could seek advice about how to restructure the business so it will be easy for them to adapt to change.
- The consultant might also be asked to advise a CEO on acquiring new business interests, redefining their marketing strategy, or whether to abandon a line of business.
- The consultant might also be asked their opinion on which financial policies to adopt or what the most efficient internal communications or succession strategies might be.
A management consultant is obligated to ask, no matter the question or the challenge, whether the question posed is the most urgent one that needs to be solved.
As in many cases, it might be that the client will need help in figuring out what its real issues are. The argument has even been made that if an executive can figure out what the real root of a company’s problem is, they won’t be in need of a management consultant’s services. First and foremost, any management consultant’s job is to identify the problem and put it in context.
There can come a point when the management consultant needs to redefine the problem to diagnose the situation accurately. A large percentage of the value that management consultants offer to companies lies in their ability to diagnose a problem accurately. Unfortunately, the process of forming an accurate diagnosis can often place strain on the relationship between a management consultant and the client, as managers are often scared to take the blame for the problems that the management consultant might uncover.
Carrying out a thorough diagnosis is more than simply environmental scanning and looking at the economics and technology involved in the business. It also means looking at the people involved and for the consultant to consider the executives and why they failed to think of things that now appear to be important or the decisions that they have that turned out to be mistakes.
Typically an investigation is concluded with the management consultant giving an oral presentation or submitting a written report detailing what they have learned. This report will include very detailed recommendations for the next steps the client should take. The relevant information in these reports should be presented clearly and with a detailed analysis. In this way, the recommendations will be convincing, and those receiving the report will understand why these matters are so important. Essentially, the consultant recommends a course of action, and it is then up to the client to decide whether to follow this plan.