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Business consulting services provide specialized expertise in business matters. Business consulting firms will work with clients, usually on a contractual basis, to determine ways to improve the client's business performance. Many business consulting firms specialize in one specific area of expertise, while others offer a much wider range of services. The size of a business consulting firm can range from one employee that operates locally to thousands of employees that operate globally. When selecting a business consulting firm, it is important for the client to consider the size of the organization as well as its core competencies.
The Business Consulting Process
The first step in the business consulting process involves the consultant and the client discussing what the client wishes to accomplish within the organization. The consultant will then help the client define objectives for the organization. Next, the client will provide the consultant with relevant data for analysis. After aligning the client's goals to the data, the consultant will work with the client to develop a strategic plan to reach those goals. If satisfied with the strategic plan, the client may choose to implement the solution outlined by the consultant. After the adjustments are made, the client should continue to monitor the organization's performance to ensure the goals are being met. If they are not being met, or if further improvement is necessary, the business consulting process should begin again. It is common for a consultant to work with a client through this process for several months or even years.
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Types of Business Consulting Services
Operations consulting firms help clients assess the current state of internal workflow, processes, and procedures with the goal of improving operational effectiveness. The operations consultant will work with the client to identify strengths and weaknesses within the organization and then recommend ways to improve various operational functions.
Common areas of operations consulting expertise:
- Product Development
- Procurement & Supply Chain
- Capital Productivity
- Asset Optimization
- Business Process Outsourcing
- Service Operations
Organizational consulting services help clients evaluate and optimize the structure of the company. Organizational consultants may focus on internal matters like human capital, or external matters like corporate restructuring.
Common areas of organizational consulting expertise:
- Behavior & Culture
- Change Management
- Human Resources
- Leadership & Talent
- Organization Design & Development
- Transformational Change
- Mergers & Acquisitions
- Alliances & Joint Ventures
Risk Management Consulting
Risk management consulting firms provide services to clients who are considering making strategic changes to an organization. The risk management consultant will help the client evaluate the potential outcomes of those changes. Some reasons that a company might want to use risk management consulting services include protecting employee health and safety and reducing the chance and impact of accidents, adverse environmental impact, and liability exposure.
Common areas of risk management consulting expertise:
- Credit Risk
- Enterprise Risk Management
- Market and Trading Risk
- Risk Advanced Analytics
- Risk and Regulation
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Business Technology Consulting
Business technology consulting services help clients find technological solutions to drive business growth, reduce operational costs, and meet current and future challenges. A business technology consultant should be familiar with the information technology (IT) industry. When a client expresses a technological deficiency within his or her organization, the consultant should be knowledgeable enough to collaborate with the client and recommend an IT solution.
Common areas of business technology consulting expertise:
- Application Management
- Enterprise Architecture
- IT Strategy & Organization
- Tech-Enabled Marketing & Sales
- Tech-Enabled Operations
- Technology Infrastructure
Marketing and Sales Consulting
Marketing and sales consulting firms help clients understand how best to conduct business in certain industries. Smaller marketing and sales consulting firms may specialize in helping clients that operate in one or two specific industries, while larger firms usually have a wider range of expertise. A marketing and sales consultant can help clients increase sales by identifying key consumer markets and recommending ways to reach those consumers more effectively.
Common areas of marketing and sales consulting expertise:
- Consumer & Shopper Insights
- Customer Lifecycle Management
- Digital Marketing
- Marketing Return on Investment
- Sales & Channel Management
Sustainability (also known as "green") consulting firms aim to help clients reduce their negative impact on the natural environment. Besides a desire to become more ecologically friendly, companies often choose to work with sustainability consultants because going "green" can help a business attract and retain customers. Sustainability efforts can also allow businesses to take advantage of tax credits and incentives as well as help them comply with increasingly strict government regulations.
Common areas of sustainability consulting expertise:
- Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Rating System
- Carbon & Energy Economics
- Clean Technologies
- Green Operations
- Sustainable Cities
- Sustainable Enterprise
- Water & Waste
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Business consulting services can help companies become certified by the International Standards Organization (ISO). ISO 9000 provides an internationally recognized framework for quality management systems. ISO 9000 applies to all types of organizations and covers activities such as design, development, production, installation, and servicing.