While you might not ever see them or realise, consultants are working within most industries. From the shopping mall you visit every week, to governments organisations and education institutions, consultants are evaluating customer satisfaction and the success of marketing campaigns to improve brand engagement and performance for companies around the globe.
This gives people with different passions, skills, and strengths the opportunity to be part of the consulting industry.
When looking at the various types of consulting roles that are available there is five typical categories: strategy consulting, operations consulting, financial consulting, information technology consulting and human resources consulting.
If you are contemplating entering the consulting business and want to know which types would suit you best – let us help get you sorted.
Strategy consultants work on a company’s long-term goals, and the bigger picture. They will identify ways to increase profitability and competitiveness and find ways to implement these in a cost-effective manner, while also tracking the results and profits.
McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group (BCG), are some the most well-known strategy-focussed consulting firms.
Example: Despite decades in business, an adult sleep and fitness wear retailer is noticing more competition and it is impacting their profits. The retailer employs a strategy consultant who takes a closer look at the company’s marketing and sales strategy compared to that of their competition. The consultant identifies that sleep and fitness wear for young people is not a big focus of the competitors and creates a plan to expand the retailer’s products in this segment.
If ‘systems’ and processes are your thing then operations consulting could be the right fit for you. They assess operations from production, sales, distribution, and customer service perspectives. They will aim to streamline processes to reduce costs, time, staff involved all while making sure the client is achieving or bettering their goals.
Strategy consulting and operations consulting are closely linked. As we have mentioned strategy consultants focus on the big picture, while operations consultants focus on what is happening behind the behind-the-scenes. Because the two types of consulting are so closely linked you will find that many of the major leading firms will specialise in both services.
Example: An operations consultant might work with the retail client to reduce their production costs, which ultimately allows the client to sell products at a cheaper rate, making them more competitive.
Financial consultants assess a client’s financial details and records, and then find way to improve the financial health of the business.
This could include taking a look at wage and marketing expenditure, taxes, business expenses and investments, as well as insurances.
This type of consulting would best suit someone who has a degree in finance or accounting.
Example: A retail client has expanded their stores across the globe, but they employ a financial consultant to help them better understand the markets they have entered and how to navigate the different tax laws they have to work within.
Information technology consulting (IT consulting)
An IT consultant helps a company make the most of technology. A consultant might identify opportunities to change or upgrade devices and software programs, or design tailor made software for a specific need. The demand for IT consultants is increasing because of threats to businesses like hacking, and security breaches which can risk a company’s important information and the information of their clients.
IT consulting work can also be called tech consulting, IT advisory, business technology services or IT consulting.
Prominent firms that provide IT consulting include Accenture, Capgemini, and IR.
Example: An IT consultant could develop an app so retail staff can make sales remotely on the sales floor, without a customer having to line up or attend a sales counter. The consultant would design the app, manage its roll-out alongside staff training and fix and issues.
Human resources consulting (HR consulting)
HR consultants handle matters concerning a firm’s hiring, employee relationship and workplace health and safety.
They work with clients from the beginning of employing new staff to managing staff job descriptions and expectations. They create systems to look after staff during and out of work hours and look after remuneration. They are expected to become the keepers of a company’s culture, and could provide advice on expansions, consolidations, or mergers.
Example: A retail client that is opening stores that sell sleep and active wear for youth needs a HR consultant to assist with the expansion and recruitment of management roles.
Where to from here?
The main five types of consulting have specific skills and qualities. Be confident of where your interests and experience fit, but make sure you choose a path that you know you will enjoy.
One more thing to consider for all types of consultants is getting professional liability insurance which is very important given all these consultants provide a lot of services and advice for their clients. If they a client makes an allegation of a negligent act, error or omission and attempts to sue the business, professional liability insurance may help provide financial protection for the consultants.