Management consultants focus on implementing change in an organization and that can be improving existing operations or implementing strategic change (usually preceded by a strategy).
The typical management consulting project involves the following steps:
- Problem understanding
- Deliverable agreement (what will be delivered)
- Project plan (when will milestones be delivered)
- Discovery (what are the possible solutions)
- Solution design (how will the problem be fixed based on budget and client situation)
- Implementation plan (what are the key tasks required to deliver the agreed change)
- Implementation (delivery of solution)
Steps 1-6 can be done by both strategy and management consultants. However, management consultant expertise typically tends to lie in implementation, as outlined in step 7.
Some examples of projects a management consultant might be engaged in are:
- Technology transformation (changing an organization’s tech systems including all hardware, software, data storage, internal/external networks, and information systems)
- People & culture change (creating a new and more motivating environment for workers, improving recruitment processes and appraisal systems)
- Digital implementation (digitizing areas of business operations by implementing digital technology)
- Cloud migration (moving all documents and data for a company from on-site locations to a digital cloud space)
- Program management (overseeing day-to-day operations)
- Organizational restructuring (re-working the hierarchy and chain of command for more efficient communication and effective leadership and delegation)
- Cybersecurity implementation (improving firewalls and online security systems company-wide)
Management consultants can be specialized in various business areas and so have a deep understanding of their respective fields of work. For example, consultants at IBM specialize in cloud solutions, and consultants such as Accenture and the ‘Big Four’ offer consulting services across risk, tax, people, and technology with each practice area only delivering projects in their respective area. Across the board, quantitative and problem-solving skills are required as they are for strategy consulting. However, for management consultants excellent communication and interpersonal skills are even more important as they typically work side by side with employees from the client on difficult topics such as process change.
Some of the biggest management consulting firms are IBM, Accenture, and the ‘Big Four’ (Deloitte, EY, PwC, and KPMG). These companies hire competitively and deliver high-quality services, implementing innovative and sustainable solutions to their clients across a broad variety of industries.