What is Business Consulting

What is Business ConsultingWhat is Business Consulting and when should you, as a business owner, consider using a business consultant.

Business Consulting Services is the practice of helping businesses improve their performance.  To accomplish this there is an analysis of the existing business to uncover issues and problems, once this is completed plans for improvement are developed.

 

Businesses and organizations may use the services of an outside Business Consulting Firms for a number of reasons, including obtaining objective external advice and access to expertise they may not have in house.

Business Consulting Firms that have had many different engagements have had exposure to many different businesses and organizations, this experience allows them to accumulate the positive attributes of successful areas of a business and derive “best practices”.

Business Consulting Services come in many forms making it confusing to the potential client, which is why many businesses are reluctant to call on this outside assistance. Additionally many consultancies are trying to sell every form of assistance they can muster making the potential client weary of unwanted or redundant services.  Layer on to that, each consultancy has it’s own proprietary frameworks and methodologies and you can find yourself and your company looking more like the Big 4 consultancy firm’s vision then your own company.

There are no silver bullets here.  Your expectations should not be, that who ever you hire, be it Accenture or Joe “The Rag Man” Consulting, is going to yield the perfect answer where you just plug it in and your good to go. Using a business consulting firm brings in new ideas, new eyes to view your problems and issues and some level of expertise to put forth “potential” fixes your business.

There are hundreds of variable that can kill even the best of plans, so implementation of any plan must remain flexible.  For this reason many companies like to keep their consultants on staff during the transformation phase.

Here is a sample list of Consulting Services for Information Technology

IT Services

  • Consulting and Professional Services
  • Managed Services
  • Integrated Solutions
  • Enterprise Integration
  • Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) Assessment
  • Emerging technologies and architecture
  • Interactive solutions
    • Mobile
    • Contact Centers
    • Application Development
    • Business Application Modernization
    • Microsoft Development
    • Application Development Services for Cloud
  • Complex Program Management
  • Business continuity and resiliency
  • Data center
  • Integrated communications
  • Security
  • Software
  • Strategy and design
  • Workplace

You can see that there are many areas that are not described very clearly and others that sound similar.

When advertising, consulting firms are casting there nets as wide as they can.  They can then look for the best fit for the skills they have available. In the consulting world it’s all about billable hours to the client.  Many firms, like the big 4, may be using your engagement to actually develop skills and information in certain new areas, but they are definitely updating their skills and knowledge of the resources they bring to bear.

There are strategic services such as “Application Portfolio Rationalization” and then there are tactical services such as “Portal Application Innovation”.  It may sound like your business could use both but that is why you MUST be clear on why you want to hire a Business Consulting Firm and stay focused.

 

Why do organizations hire outside consulting companies?

  • To get advise for a specific problem
  • To help make changes and enact development within the business that requires expertise you may not have and an get an objective viewpoint
  • To solve a difficult, unresolved issue
  • To do work that no one else has the time to do
  • To ease the mind of clients or investors
  • To obtain a unbiased 2nd opinion

 

There are many business consulting and business management companies with different levels of expertise. Some can darken the skies with consultants each billable and working hard to help your company, but not so much your check book.  Large firms do have a volume of experiences and best practices to bring to the table which is a strong sales point. But maybe you don’t need or want all that help.  Finding smaller companies with deep skills can be difficult.

Although the staff may have worked in industry for the majority of their career, you should ask what their experience has been in the detailed analysis of dozens of other companies in a similar industry or situation.

Conversely someone hired out of school in to a large consulting firm will have opinions on what needs to be done to help your company, but the consultants have no real world experience that a business line manager learned the hard way.

Whether it be industry branding or business planning, what business problem are you trying to solve ?  Time to Market, Flexibility, Lower Costs, you must be clear before you find your best partner to help you solve the issue at hand.

Summary

Many firms have a great sales engine of senior people backed up with mediocre consultants and hard working middle managers to pull it all together, make sure your comfortable and have the budget for this kind of skill mix.  Look for a combination of skills in the Consulting Company you hire, they should have practical experience as a manager and executive in a similar industry as well as deep consulting skills having analyzed at least a dozen and a half different companies.

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