Business or management consulting: it’s one of America’s most rapidly-growing industries. As more entrepreneurs step up to the table with ingenious new startup ideas, the need for solid advice and guidance is becoming higher than ever. The value of reliable advice is rising, too. Without it, many businesses would be doomed to follow statistical patterns, failing in the first six to twelve months.
Partnering with the right consultant can and often will save businesses on the brink of destruction. Often, a neutral expert can see serious issues business owners and staff can’t see, and thus, their suggestions (yes, there is advice involved) come from a place of logic rather than bias.
But giving advice isn’t all business consultants do; in reality, it’s just the beginning. Business consulting also provides these incredible services as well as valuable insight along the way.
Informing & Teaching
A consultant’s primary job is to aid the business with becoming more proficient and successful. A significant portion of how they achieve this goal is by providing information and teaching people in business new and innovative strategies.
Most firms teach and inform by providing access to subject matter experts (SMEs) who specialize in specific areas. SMEs may belong to the consulting firm, or the consulting firm may identify and contract with SMEs from outside sources instead.
Some firms may also provide or run workshops, training classes, and other more in-depth educational groups instead, while others use a combination of workshops and SMEs together. Either way, the goal of this action remains the same: to provide access to professional expertise on a specific subject.
Thinking that teaching is an awful lot like giving advice? You aren’t entirely wrong. Certainly, advice may be given in the process. But teaching is less about giving advice and more about empowering businesses to give themselves good advice and guidance in the future instead.
Identifying & Solving Company Issues
Have a specific problem? Your consultant can help you figure it out. One of the areas most business consultancy firms excel in is getting to the bottom of a perceived issue and finding ways to resolve it – for good. This isn’t a straightforward and simple task because most problems in business point to serious, deep-seated issues with structure, workflows, or culture as a whole.
Business analysis is often exhaustive, requiring that the consultant analyze the entire business from the top down to determine what impacts play a role in the issue. The consultant takes into consideration the entire business, not just processes or workflows. This requires determining exactly how factors like goals, budgets, the market, industry, reputation, and workforce contribute to serious issues holding back success.
Once the consulting firm identifies how the problems connect, they identify potential solutions. Then, they recommend the changes and come up with an implementation process, providing guidance along the way. The end result is usually resolution that requires significant overhaul of everything from management to workflows.
Assessing & Implementing Technology Solutions
Every technology company will do their best to convince you that their equipment is best, but that’s their perspective. Whether or not it’s really what’s best for your business is another story.
Consider these questions:
- Should you use cloud-based ERP software or host your own servers?
- Is it time to upgrade your cash registers to computer-based systems?
- Do you really need to use Oracle when you’re recruiting?
- Do you need a company intranet, or is social media enough?
- Should you implement automated chatbots or real people?
- Can your business benefit from process automation?
- Can your business benefit from AI? And if so, how?
Questions like these can overwhelm businesses, who may not be entirely equipped to decide. Business consulting firms aid businesses in finding technological solutions to common challenges like these without risking capital unnecessarily.
What makes this better than simply hiring an IT specialist? For starters, the consulting firm reviews the business’s need for technology while keeping the overall business goals in mind. Consultants analyze the business’s budget, goals, environment, industry, and situation, recommending only the changes that make the most sense.
Recommending technology based strictly on business needs, and not on an attempt to make a sale, alleviates the risk that the business pays for something they don’t really need. It also ensures that the business ends up with the correct software, hardware, or IT support, rather than a cookie cutter solution that only “sort of” works.
Creating Cultural & Legal Protocols
Today’s businesses have a bigger challenge than ever before with regard to cultural and legal concerns. It takes only one employee to say the wrong thing on a company social media account to decimate your business’s reputation. Likewise, a single incident of sexual harassment or workplace violence could result in a harmful review on Glassdoor.com – suddenly, you can’t attract talent and the public is afraid to work with you.
Also challenging is the fact that recruiting in the gig economy is becoming a minefield of issues. Fraudulent resumes, falsified references, employees who don’t perform – employers lose out on thousands of dollars when a new hire doesn’t work out. Many have turned to screening to alleviate these concerns, but FCRA and EEOC compliance complex and confusing. All of this chaos creates a unique opportunity for business consultancy firms.
When you work with a consulting firm on this issue, they will aid your business in creating guidelines and protocols for success, addressing the need to protect the business and preserve culture without threatening compliance. This includes how the business responds to problem issues (or even outright crimes like thefts) in the workplace as well as standard operating policies.
Engaging in Workflow & Process Analysis
Process analysis, unlike holistic analysis, does hone in on specifics: internal and external processes and workflows. It reviews all tasks, who takes care of the tasks, how tasks flow from one source to the next, and how long each portion of the network of tasks takes. Although this step is a part of holistic analysis, and most consulting firms do both, they are not one and the same.
When consulting firms engage in process analysis, they hone in on workflows and identify how they flow. The main goal is to better understand how the process works so that the business can reduce business inefficiency and waste along the way. That waste can come in many forms – inventory, human resources, time, or even reputation, depending on the situation. By eliminating that waste and inefficiency, businesses work smarter, harder, and more affordably, so they bring in more money with less loss.