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A management consultant provides external advice for organisations that require specialist expertise or an objective outside perspective on their business. Consultancy usually involves the identification and assessment of a problem or the analysis of a specific area of an organisation, the reporting of findings and the formulation of recommendations for improvement.

Consultants are commonly called in for business improvement, change of management, information technology and long-term planning projects.

Consultancy can offer the choice of varied assignments, the ability to choose interesting work and the flexibility (within limits) of deciding when and where to work.

A definition of management consultancy from the Institute of Consulting

The provision to management of objective advice and assistance relating to the strategy, structure, management and operations of an organisation in pursuit of its long-term purposes and objectives. Such assistance may include the identification of options with recommendations; the provision of an additional resource; and/or the implementation of solutions.

What is the range of a management consultant’s work?

Early on in your career you will gain a range of experiences – a key attraction to many graduates considering a career in consultancy. As your experience grows you will become more specialised, enabling you to work in areas you find most interesting and rewarding.

Consultants specialise because of the wide variety of management activities. The specialisms have been divided by the Institute of Consulting into the following areas:

Business strategy
This involves long-range planning, the reorganisation of a company’s structure, rationalisation of services and products and a general business appraisal of the company.

Manufacturing and business services
This involves a review of the layout of a production department, production control arrangements, productivity and incentive schemes or quality control problems.

Financial and management controls
This can include the installation of budgetary control systems, profit planning or capital and revenue budgeting, office reorganisation and administrative arrangements.

Human resources
Working as a HR consultant involves advising on personnel policy, manpower planning, job enrichment, job evaluation and industrial relations.

Marketing
This involves market research and business forecasting, sales force training and the organisation of retail and wholesale outlets.

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
The setting of policy and strategy, this involves customer satisfaction, performance measurement, people management and processes.

Information technology
An IT consultant’s work can involve defining information needs, the provision of software, systems analysis and design, computer feasibility studies, implementing computer applications and making computer hardware evaluations.

In essence, a consultant’s job is to advise a company on improvements that could be made to its business. However, the range of work in consultancy is extremely varied and consultants can be found in almost any business sector. The variety of work available ensures that a career in consultancy provides diverse and interesting opportunities to any hardworking graduate.

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