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  • Writer's pictureDenise Allec

A business consultant is an individual that works closely with a business owner or manager to improve operations, financials and/or efficiency.

A business consultant may be hired to solve a particular problem, or hired to figure out what the problems are, come up with solutions, and possibly, implement those solutions.

In many cases, an individual hired from outside the company is able to look at operations or financials from an "outsider's" perspective, identifying potential problems / obstacles / solutions.

Is this because employees are unable to do so? Not necessarily. However, in many environments, it is easier for a non-employee to drive change, to identify potentially uncomfortable problems that are preventing the company from achieving their goals and objectives, and then facilitate implementing solutions.

A business consultant is also able to see the company's operations from a "bird's eye view" -- the complete picture. Again, not because the CEO or other senior executive is unable to, but it is often difficult to step back from day-to-day responsibilities and look at operations from start-to-finish when one is in the middle of it.

What are examples of business consulting projects?

  • Analyze a company's spend, identifying opportunities to reduce costs that seem out-of-line with competitors or industry norms

  • Identify operational obstacles that are preventing growth or efficiency (could be in sales, manufacturing, distribution, supply chain, financial operations)

  • Review company goals and objectives, and identify gaps for accomplishing

  • Manage a high-priority, high-profile project requiring significant change in the organization

Contact me for a complimentary one-hour initial consultation to see how we can help you achieve your goals.

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  • Writer's pictureDenise Allec

Updated: Mar 26, 2021

Good question, even if you haven't heard the joke about the Consultant borrowing your watch so they can tell you the time. I promise not to answer using double-speak, jargon, acronyms, or fluff instead of substance.

So here goes: a competent Business Management Consultant is someone who is able to quickly assess opportunities to increase growth and/or reduce costs in an organization. It is that simple. Specifically, the opportunities might include identifying if the right individuals are in the right jobs; if products/services are properly positioned in the marketplace; if there are inefficiencies in the business processes throughout the organization; how the company's costs compare to competitors.

"Found opportunities" run the gamut from product design, raw material sourcing, location of manufacturing, forecasting, organizational structure (and the people in it), inventory practices, quality issues, manufacturing (and vendor) capacity, distribution, inefficient ("but it has always been done this way") processes, order fulfillment, and duplication of efforts.

A Business Management Consultant often employs a multi-step approach that goes something like this: obtain from the company executive(s) the underlying reason(s) for wanting the assistance of the Consultant (Objective); interview key individuals throughout the organization, and if appropriate, vendors and customers, as well as observe business processes throughout organization (Findings - which by the way, are frequently different from the hiring executive's understanding, resulting in employing extreme diplomacy not to offend when presenting!); analyze Findings, financials, industry best practices and key benchmarks of comparables to assess how the client stacks up and estimate the return on investment of opportunities (Conclusions); and lastly, taking into account a number of factors, determine the best way to maximize the client's resources and prioritize to-dos (Recommendations and Next Steps).

Often-repeated complaints regarding Business Management Consultants are that the Recommendations are infeasible, not able to be implemented, are so convoluted and/or simplistic they are useless, or basically are just a sales job for the next project for the Consultant. In some cases, this perception might be true.

However, I always follow the "get in, get it done quickly and to the client's satisfaction, and get out" modus operandi. I figure I would rather have the client call me back down the road than outlive my welcome (and value-add). I remember wondering as a newly-graduated Systems Analyst at Xerox Corp why there were so many consultants doing what employees should be doing. That wonder has stayed with me. Companies have amazing employees that need the bar set a bit higher -- who better to implement and own the Recommendations than the company's own team members. Of course, sometimes it is easier for an outsider to get the ball started, or provide an assist, which I am happy to do, provided there is a knowledge transfer along the way.

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