An Introduction to Business Consulting
Those entering business consultancy tend to fall into the 25 to 35 age group, but there are openings for younger candidates - generally as prospective consultants - and also for more experienced people who bring specific expertise with them.
Regardless of age, most people choose to work as business consultants so that they can apply their knowledge to a broad range of problems in different situations. They are able to use their highly specialist knowledge and experience in a wider context than one firm can provide, as well as gaining more varied experience of management problems.
Business consultancy offers a career without limitations and restraints; it offers a training ground for those wanting to broaden their managerial experience and a ladder of promotion to senior management positions in industry to those who are prepared to accept the challenges and disciplines of the profession.
How to become a Business Consultant
On joining a firm of business consultants, the new entrant will normally receive several months of induction and training whilst also being under the guidance of an experienced consultant. During the induction and training period, the diagnostic skills of the trainee consultant are developed and the professional standards of their firms are impressed on their mind. Particular attention is drawn to the writing of clear considered English and the ability to present thoughts and ideas verbally to clients. In addition, the opportunity will be taken to provide additional training to fill any gaps in knowledge and experience.
Although no organisational framework is common to all consultancies, most have established a formal career structure for their staff. A consultant progressing to responsibility for the detailed day to day conduct of an assignment and later the team leader in a multi-disciplined assignment. At this stage there may also be opportunities to conduct surveys designed to diagnose clients' problems and establish agreed terms of reference for future consulting work.
A consultant often works with senior management as well as with employees at all levels, depending upon the nature of assignment.
Therefore, status and salary as a qualified consultant are at least equal to those working in senior management posts. The work may be in any country and may entail considerable traveling and being away from home two or three nights a week.
There is an increasing amount of overseas work with assignments of varying duration. This helps consultants to gain first-hand experience of international business and in the longer assignments, to enjoy the opportunities of living overseas with their families. From this it can be seen that a knowledge of, or aptitude to learn, foreign languages is an asset.
What is the range of Business Consultants work?
Business consultants by their very nature are specialists and because of the wide variety of management activities, the specialisms have been divided by the ICBC into the following areas of consulting activity:
Business Strategy. This involves long range planning, the re-organisation of a company's structure, rationalisation of services and products, and a general business appraisal of the company.
Manufacturing and Business Services. Involving a review of the layout of a production department, production control arrangements, productivity and incentive schemes or quality control problems.
Marketing. Market research and business forecasting, sales force training and the organisation of retail and wholesale outlets.
Financial and Management Controls. The installation of budgetary control systems, profit planning or capital and revenue budgeting, office reorganisation and administrative arrangements.
Human Resources. Advising on personnel policy, manpower planning, job enrichment, job evaluation and industrial relations.
Information Technology. Defining information needs, the provision of software, systems analysis and design, computer feasibility studies, implementing computer applications and making computer hardware evaluations.
Environmental Management. This includes urban and regional development planning, international economic research, cost benefit and social analysis studies, and physical, economic, ecological and sociological studies for the encouragement of quality of lifestyle
Quality Management. Setting the policy and strategy, customer satisfaction, performance measurement, people management and processes.