Management Consulting

Does the title “management consultant” make you think of a vague, nondescript role? This could be true – management consulting opportunities and duties round out a vast area of the spectrum. Consulting is part of any job field, as is management. But the title gives more insight than one might realize. A management consult is an expert who is trained in assisting management teams to improve performance in all types of organizations. Though for-profit business is the most common type of business they work in, management consultants also provide assistance to government and nonprofit organizations. Each consultant will have their own specific field from tech to fashion to restaurant industries where the may flourish, but management consultants across the board are experts who provide advice and services to both struggling and thriving organizations.

Management consultants commonly use up-to-date methods and strategies to improve an organization overall. Businesses can have complex problems from operations to financial costs. Management consultants usually specialize in very specific management related strategies. These experts carry extensive industry insight, problem-solving abilities, and years of experience to be able to improve an organization’s efficiency. Once hired, management consultants conduct a thorough audit using research, analyzing internal data, interviewing employees, and may prepare and present reports on their findings.

Sometimes a management team cannot handle constructive criticism, and sometimes employees do not feel there is a friendly open door policy to communicate issues with them. Often, an entire department may be in such a rut with low company morale that nothing is being accomplished. This is where unbiased, constructive criticism comes into play. Removing the emotional tension that comes into effect when discussing job performance is integral in terms of helping an organization move forward and succeed.
Many people believe that consultants charge for information they may already have themselves. But think of it in terms as a personal trainer–while many of us know workout routines and diets, a trainer gives us a specific workout plan and diet regime for our body type, lifestyle, and health levels. We are not all the same. Nor is any organization. And sometimes we all need a little boost, advice, and accountability.

When organizations feel their employers are on their side, then their job performance spikes, resulting in happier clients. Sometimes, employers can lose sight as to what needs to be accomplished internally to get the executive team on the same page. A sloppy, ineffective and mismanaged executive team with unaligned goals can create chaos in the workplace.

This is why management consulting is so important – when a business is managed improperly or executives aren’t all on the same page, employees tend to feel that. The trickle-down effect of mismanagement begins to negatively influence each team and each individual member in the workplace. Chaos is contagious. Often, upper-level management can be so mired in the day-to-day that individual members of the executive team lose the ability to focus on the internal workings of the company.

Lazy and inefficient management can also cost thousands of dollars if not dealt with accordingly. Ineffective management methodology can be resolved in house through exposure of specific issues and proper correction – most often worked out when goals are established and upper-level management agrees to work as a team toward those shared goals.

These are some common factors that influence why organizations may call in a management consultant, but obviously, there are innumerable reasons. Clearly, a seasoned consultant with years of experience can develop a specific game plan to help any organization.

Therefore, while making a small investment in a consultant might seem costly at the start, the overall return for any organization’s success is far greater.

So, what should one look for in a management consultant? Now we’ve established that a consultant might be effective, it’s time to talk about separating wheat from chaff in terms of the selection. There’s surely an abundance of highly educated people out there who are well-versed in business and management. How do you vet the right management consultant for any business? After all, finding the best fit for any business can make or break the total experience.

First things first: find a consultant who has a deep and extensive knowledge of the given industry. The right consultant will know the specific target audience, clients, and type of employees. They understand the material and what is being sold or bought, whether we’re talking about services or products. They also need to have a true understanding of new and modern methods of management and training. This is key.

Double check their success rate – the numbers will never lie. It’s important to talk to organizations they have previously worked with and hear about their experiences–were their needs improved and changed for the better, even after the consultant left? Cost reduction is also key. Any management consultant who can’t surface metrics that tell the story about their previous experience may not be worth investing in. As always, the key metric is cash.

Once the right management consultant is vetted and brought in, it’s important for the executive team to furnish that consultant with what they need for success. It’s important that the management consultant be set up to win, not fail, by being allowed to remove obstacles toward success. It’s surprising the number of businesses who spend the investment money on a consultant, yet don’t “get out of their own way” once the consultant is placed.

Trust is key, and the management consultant needs to be given the authority and go-ahead to surface issues and solve them using internal resources, as well as bringing in external when it fits a particular situation.

Managers need to be involved in this process. If a consultant wants to just “talk and not do the work” with you, find another one. Bringing in the right talent across the board is one of the most pivotal components to your success story, so take care to work with a consultant who works toward the goal – and not necessarily just to make the brass happy. Your success depends on it.

 

Business Consulting

For a business to be 100 percent effective, it’s leaders/executive team and employees must learn to adapt and change to ever-changing, mutable industries. From technologies to target audiences, something is always a little different, year after year. Sometimes learning and adapting can be complicated and overwhelming, and this is where hiring a business consultant can be the best choice!

What exactly is a business consultant? Business consultants are experts in creating an effective business through strategic methods proven for success. Of course, each business has different needs and problems – concurrently, each consultant brings something unique to the table, though the foundational strategies of each consultant seem to be inherently similar. If nothing else, the goals are the same.

Consultants will meet with company leaders and owners to identify key business systems and then map out the system’s processes from start to finish. Is a process clearly defined, documented, and consistently followed through? Are the current processes efficient or effective? How can a business revamp a system to add value?

These questions are answered by identifying the business’ goals, improvement needs, and problem areas. A business consultant may ask questions such as, Do you want to expand? Do you want to lower cost reduction? Do you want ISO certification?  Overall, the business consultant will help managers see how the people, process, and products interact and flow together, and if the current strategies reflect the most effective way possible. From there, the right consultant will assist the business through the transition and execution of new systems.

Why hire a business consultant? The real question is, why not? Business improvement is a necessity for growth regardless of how business improvement is achieved. On top of that, the outside unbiased constructive criticism is a pivotal component in why business consultants can do their job so efficiently.

While paying a consultant for a few weeks/months may be a small investment, the returns can be incredibly rewarding. Business consults can identify flawed systems that are underperforming, costing more time and money. They can reduce expenses, asset costs, and working capital. Their goal is to help a company reach maximum efficiency when it comes to cost.  

A huge factor in problem areas can simply be the lack of consistency throughout processes, thus a business consultant will be able to help business performance stay consistent through the whole process, regardless of a specific department or project.

Keeping up to date with any company’s  target audience is a must for business growth, and sometimes we all lose touch. But there is no reason not to get back in touch! Connecting with the target audience is the best way to maintain customer loyalty, and this can be achieved through studying the wants and needs of target audiences and building efficient processes around those needs. While, making customers happy is, of course, a priority, this also gives any company a bit of an advantage with your competitors. Business consultants will help get this process moving with the customer in mind, looking at these target audiences and doing a careful analysis of audience and competitor in order to affect change.

Sometimes the change needs to start from the top down. Business consultants will aid in creating from the management side to positively affect the overall business. Company culture and company morale are pivotal to keep employees and customers happy.

Now that we established the benefits of hiring a business consultant, the real question remains; how to decide who to hire? While many people have experience with running their own businesses, that does not always mean they are efficient business consultants. It is the classic example of the college math professor who can solve an equation but is unable to explain how to solve the equation. Just because someone can fix their own business doesn’t mean they’ll be successful at navigating someone else’s.

Any business consultant should have a deep and complex knowledge and understanding of business consulting. What is their experience? What is their success rate? How many years have they been consulting? Does the consultant have experience using modern and up to date tools and methods? These are major questions to ask in the interview process. And if you don’t know, just like buying a car–shop around.

Make sure any consultant is involved in the process start to finish. Reconstructing business methodology is not a delicate choice. Their involvement in the process reflects their business and leadership skills. Merely telling executives how to fix the problem will not yield any results. They need to be in the brunt of it with the top level to fully understand the business and what will and will not work.

Finally, business consultants must abide by an obligation to themselves and the company on the whole not to play favorites. An effective business consultant must remain as impartial as possible throughout the process. One way to initiate “not taking a side” in all decisions is to vet and use a system of tools. Testing such as Myers-Briggs that outlines the strengths and weaknesses of specific employees as well as the management team is a great way for business consultants to know what they’re working with.

Ultimately, the right business consultant will always make a concerted effort to manage to goals. Determining these goals from the outset may seem like a great deal of time and energy, but it’s always surprising how many businesses don’t really have a solid plan to get to the goals. Sometimes, the goals themselves are fuzzy. Many business executives know they want to increase revenue 10%+ by quarter, but don’t have a waterproof plan for getting to those revenue goals.

For business consultants, stepping in as an outsider and reviewing the company’s goals and culture can allow the consultant to come up with game-changing strategies for taking a business in a different direction. If a company’s top branch trusts the hired business consultant, then the change that consultant can make over time can be groundbreaking and phenomenal for the company in question.