What Does a Management Consultant Do? A Comprehensive Guide

A management consultant is a professional who works with company leaders to assess the company, identify problems, gather information, and implement solutions. They often work in teams and are employed by consulting firms, rather than on the payroll of the company they are analyzing. Management consultants help organizations solve problems, create value, maximize growth, and improve business performance. They use their business skills to provide objective advice and experience, and help an organization develop any specialized skills it may lack. Management consultants help companies improve their performance and grow by solving problems and finding new and better ways of doing things.

They are not only employed in the private sector; many consulting firms work with public sector organizations to help develop their services and, when necessary, reduce costs and save money. Let's look at a real verbatim statement from one of the biggest management consulting firms, McKinsey, about what they do. Who are the customers? Customers are often leading companies (e.g. in the energy sector) and non-profit organizations (for example, a leading charity).

Leading consulting firms have accumulated critical experience in key areas (for example, mergers and acquisitions). Therefore, when companies are faced with mission-critical challenges or problems that require that expertise, an efficient way to resolve the problem may be to contact a consulting firm. For example, consider the scenario of a large consumer electronics manufacturer that has decided to merge with a competitor of similar size. While both firms have made small acquisitions in the past, neither has ever attempted a merger of this scale. Therefore, neither of them will have the muscle memory or the internal experience to perform well with confidence.

Companies may be able to do this on their own, but given how much is at stake, they want to execute with confidence and therefore leveraging the expertise of a consulting firm makes sense. In many cases, consulting firms will be used to provide an objective third party opinion on an important decision being made by a company (for example, whether or not to pursue a merger). Why is this happening? Shouldn't the company's key stakeholders who know their own business best be perfectly qualified to make that decision? Yes and No. Yes, they will understand the business well and are likely to have more context than any third party. But other challenges almost always arise.

Business owners may have blind spots or certain biases. Therefore, bringing an outside voice will help them confront and deal with them objectively. Another example is a deadlock scenario. For example, the board of directors or factions within the executive team may not agree on the right path and, therefore, an objective opinion and tiebreaker may be needed. Another common possibility is that the consulting firm can provide an objective view of industry best practices, essentially taking advantage of its broader scope of how other companies have addressed similar problems. The last common case is that the company has a pressing problem.

Since all of its current teams and people are tied to ongoing projects, the company needs an injection of intelligent people and brains to address the problem at hand. Some companies are even designed to operate this way. For example, private equity firms often rely on management consulting firms to help them with specific aspects of due diligence when looking to make an acquisition. Sure, private equity firms could create and staff their own in-house consulting firms, but many will choose to hire teams on demand rather than changing the structure and talent base of their own organization. Now that we know a little more about the type of clients who hire consulting firms and we know the kinds of problems that drive them to hire a consulting firm - but what about the consultancies themselves? If you are looking for a leading global company with an urgent pricing problem - which company do you hire? Are all companies equally capable of helping you solve that problem? How do you think about who to address?Advancing the pyramid towards more ambitious purposes requires greater sophistication and skill in consulting processes and in managing the consultant-client relationship.

Sometimes a professional tries to change the purpose of a commitment even if a change is not required; the company may have lost track of the line between what is best for the client and what is best for the consultant's business. However accredited consultants often do not attempt to prolong engagements or expand their reach. Wherever the relationship starts in the pyramid, the stranger's first job is to address the purpose requested by the client. As need arises both parties can agree to move on to other objectives. In successful relationships there is no rigid distinction between functions; formal recommendations should not contain surprises if both parties help develop them and if both parties are concerned about their implementation. And just as clients can participate in diagnosis without diminishing value of consultant's role there are many ways in which consultants can assist in implementation without usurping manager's work.

In each engagement consultants must learn how to be more effective in designing and implementing projects. If you are interested in how companies work (their strategy, structure, management and operations), then a career in management consulting might be what you need. Consulting firms offer services in all areas of business from HR and marketing to IT and finance. Management consultants leverage their industry experience and technical expertise to help clients improve their business processes strategies and organizational designs. It also comes from my experience supervising beginning consultants and from many conversations I had with consultants and clients both in United States and abroad - The consultant...

Léo Poitevin
Léo Poitevin

Certified pizza specialist. Incurable food evangelist. Tv advocate. Amateur travel lover. Hardcore pizza practitioner.