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The 7 Consulting Capabilities That Every Client Should Know

The right Consultant can play an instrumental role and can help your organization save money, make money, and solve a plethora of business issues. However, the challenge is finding the best candidate who will turn great ideas into carefully executed Consulting projects, and deliver stunning results.

Have you ever wondered, looking at consultant’s website: “What do they actually do? What problems do they solve? And what are they good at?”

Well, it’s not uncommon for companies that are helping others to define their value proposition, sharpen their strategy and optimize their marketing budgets, many consulting firms are quite slow to embrace the internet and even more social media. So to facilitate your future browsing we have tried in this chapter to give you an overview of the key dimensions that characterize the DNA of a consulting firm.

The 7-High Level Consulting Capabilities Categories That Every Client Should Know

What Do “Consulting Capabilities” Refer to?

The Consulting Capabilities are the services offered by consultants. They usually mirror the business functions that client organizations need to perform. This dimension is crucial to describe the work in consulting. Most Consulting Firms will have at least this information on their company presentations.

We have developed a template to include the main Consulting Capabilities in 7-High Level Categories –

1st. Strategy & Management-

Strategy is about building a competitive advantage among the competition and make profits. As a result, the capability is geared toward high-level, corporate decisions. It helps leaders define “where to play” and “how to win” for achieving a financial return. A significant share of high-level Consulting engagements falls in this category. For long, strategy was the dominant capability. Its relative share in the overall consulting market has been decreasing while implementation and excellence projects were flourishing. Today this category represents about 10% of the global market.

This category includes capabilities such as Corporate Strategy, Business Unit Strategy, Organization Architecture, Management Model, Corporate Governance, Innovation Strategy, M&A, Strategic Communication as well as Economic or Government Policy.

Sample projects include :

  • Designing and implementing a customer-centric organization in Consumer Goods
  • Crafting a 5-year strategic roadmap to go from a commodity to a specialty player in Chemicals
  • Using Game theory to anticipate moves from Competitors and take strategic decisions in telecommunications

Performing an M&A screening to build a pipeline supporting strategic priorities in financial services

2nd. Sales & Marketing-

Sales & Marketing is focused on top-line activities to help companies drive profitable growth. Sales & marketing consultants support clients to deliver above-market growth by developing their marketing capabilities or improving their sales effectiveness. This capability is striving in the consulting market as its impact on P&L is usually direct and measurable. The category represents close to 10% of the management consulting market.

This category includes capabilities such as Branding, Revenue Management, Market Entry Strategy, Omni Channel Marketing, Sales Effectiveness or Customer Experience.

Sample projects include :

  • Optimizing Yield / Revenue Management for an Airline using data analytics and customer behaviors
  • Improving in-branch customer experience for clients in a traditional bank
  • Optimizing the organization, territories, and activities for the commercial teams after a merger of pharmaceutical companies

Implementing Machine Learning to optimize Marketing investments in consumer packaged goods. 

“You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.”  – Henry Ford.

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3rd. Operations

Operations are one of the largest lines of services. It regroups most of the activities where products and services are usually built or delivered. Even though Operations can be a source of innovation and a differentiator, most of the time the focus is on reducing costs and increasing throughout. Operations consultants use concepts such as Lean, Six Sigma, or Quality Management to help their clients streamline and improve operational efficiency. It represents about 25% of the market for management consulting.

The category includes capabilities such as Manufacturing, Procurement, Supply chain, Quality Management, and Compliance, G&A Optimization, Lean or Knowledge Management.

Sample projects include :

  • Defining a make-or-buy strategy for parts of the activities for an OEM

  • Designing and implementing a blueprint for manufacturing activities for a Flat Carbon Producer

  • Leveraging Blockchain to optimize the supply chain of an automotive company

  • Using Lean to optimize back-office activities in the private loans department.

4th. Finance & Risk –

Consulting firms specialized in financial advisory service work with finance and risk management executives (such as CFO’s). They help them make decisions, develop customized strategies and deliver superior results by analyzing the financial and economic risk and uncertainties for their companies. The category represents close to 20% of the management consulting industry. Its size is often difficult to assess given the overlap of the activities with legal firms, auditors and M&A boutiques.

The category includes capabilities such as Corporate Finance, Actuarial, Restructuring and Crisis Management, Tax Advisory or Risk Management.

Sample projects include :

  • Leveraging Supply Chain Financing to optimize cash management between Customers and Suppliers

  • Analyzing potential impacts and defining optimum strategies to face significant changes in Tax Policies (Brexit, Trade-War, …)

  • Implementing new Risk Management regulations and associated governance in Financial Services (BASEL III, …)

  • Turnaround management for companies close to Bankruptcy.

5th. Human Capital –

Human Capital consulting focuses on maximizing the value created from Human Resources, or employees, in an organization. The offering is quite wide from Organization and Leadership Development to Improving the Effectiveness of the HR function. Since the capability has low barriers to entry and many consultants set up their own business, the market is highly fragmented. Besides, there is a low level of market share concentration despite the significant number of operators. The top four companies in the industry generate just over 20.0% of the industry’s revenue. The category represents about 10% of the overall consulting market.

The category includes capabilities such as Talent Management, Organization Development, HR Effectiveness, Social Relations or Compensations & Benefits.

Sample projects include :

  • Building an efficient strategy, embraced by the management to boost Employee Engagement in a Transportation Company

  • Leveraging advanced workforce planning analytics to map career flows and anticipate future needs and shortages in Aerospace Engineering

  • Designing a robust succession planning for the key executives of the company in a High Tech Startup

  • Implementing Digital Tools and driving the associated change management to optimize HR processes.

6th. Research and Development –

Research & Development Consulting is helping companies to optimize the way they are developing Products and Services. Companies aim to find the right balance between with a strong focus on customer needs and delivering cost-effective returns. In a time of constant change and when innovation cycles are accelerating, the research and development activities have become a key differentiator. The consulting offering ranges from identifying where technologies and skills will be required to how products and services are developed. With about 5%, it represents a small but very valuable portion of the consulting market.

The category includes capabilities such as R&D Strategy, R&D Effectiveness, Product Development,  Manufacturing Engineering, Open Innovation :

Sample projects include :

  • Globalizing R&D and Optimizing the footprint for a global food ingredients company

  • Defining and Implementing an effective Innovation Portfolio Management in Mining

  • Leveraging concurrent engineering to accelerate product development in Aerospace

  • Implementing and Innovation System to spur Innovation for an Insurance Company.

7th. Technology & Digital –

Technology Consulting might also be referred to as IT consulting. However, the rise of Digital, Fintech and all the Tech Startups activities is changing the rules of the game. The capability has been rejuvenated as most companies have now elevated technology to the highest level of their agenda. Technology consultants offer services helping companies embrace new technologies, digitize their processes and modernize their legacy systems. In short, leverage technology as a source of competitive advantage. The scope for this activity overlaps with strategy and functional areas for strategy, media, and specific systems and with IT services for the low end/recurring activities. Depending on definitions the category can represent up to one-third of the global consulting market.

The category includes capabilities such as Digital Strategy, Digital Architecture, Systems Integration (CRM, ERP, …), Data Management and Analytics, Cyber Security, or IT related services.

Sample projects include :

  • Helping Retailers to make buy vs. build decisions when deciding on their new IT Platforms

  • Leveraging Machine learning to understand customer behaviors better and reduce churn in telecommunications

  • Assessing the enterprise cybersecurity architecture and technical controls in Payments.

Hélène Laffitte
Co-founder & CEO at Consulting Quest
Hélène is the author of Smart Consulting Sourcing, a step by step guide to getting the best ROI from your Consuting. You can follow @helenelaffitte on Twitter.

Hélène Laffitte is the CEO of Consulting Quest, a Global Performance-Driven Consulting Platform and author of “Smart Consulting Sourcing”, a step by step guide to getting the best ROI from your consulting. With a blend of experience in Procurement and Consulting, Hélène is passionate about helping Companies create more value through Consulting.

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