Management consulting is the practice of helping organizations to improve their performance, operating primarily through the analysis of existing organizational problems.
Organizations may draw upon the services of management consultants for a number of reasons, including gaining external (and presumably objective) advice and access to the consultants’ specialized expertise.
However, the specific nature of situations under consideration may limit the ability to transfer such practices from one organization to another.
- Consultancies may also provide organizational change management assistance, development of coaching skills, process analysis, technology implementation, strategy development, or operational improvement services.
- Management consultants often bring their own proprietary methodologies or frameworks to guide the identification of problems, and to serve as the basis for recommendations for more effective or efficient ways of performing work tasks. The premier global qualification for a management consultant practitioner is Certified Management Consultant or CMC.
The functions of consulting services are commonly broken down into eight task categories. Consultants can function as bridges for information and knowledge, and that as smaller entities, external consultants can provide these bridging services more economically than client firms themselves.
In general, various approaches to consulting can be thought of as lying somewhere along a continuum, with an ‘expert’ or prescriptive approach at one end, and a facilitative approach at the other. In the expert approach, the consultant takes the role of expert, and provides expert advice or assistance to the client, with, compared to the facilitative approach, less input from, and fewer collaborations with the clients.
Management consulting refers generally to the provision of business services, but there are numerous specialties such as strategic management, information technology consulting, human resource consulting, virtual management consulting, operations management consulting, engineering management, management science, and others, many of which overlap, and most of which are offered by the larger diversified consultancies.