Each year across the United Arab Emirates, many businesses give hundreds of thousands of Dirhams in “consultancy services” to Management and Business consultant. Unfortunately, much of this money is in return for unnecessary Information and poorly implemented recommendations. In today’s cash strapped environment businesses need to understand better what business consulting assignments can achieve and accomplish. They need to ask more from their adviser, who in their turn must increase their learning to satisfy these expanded expectations.
Management and Business Consulting includes a broad range of activities, and many firms and their members often define these practices quite differently. A particular way of categorization is to assess these in terms of the capabilities of the specific Consultant, e.g. competitive analysis, corporate strategy, operations management, and human resources.
A second approach is to view the business consulting process as a sequence of phases: entry, contracting, diagnosis, data collection, feedback, implementation, and so on. Perhaps the most useful way of evaluating the consulting process is to consider what the purpose of consulting is. In the following diagram, the primary and additional goals of consulting arranged.
The management and business Consulting purposes in their order of hierarchy are:
The lower-numbered purposes are better understood and practiced by most business consultants. Clients thus, more request these business consulting outcomes. However, some consultants, aspire to a higher stage of the pyramid.
Purposes 1 to 4 are considered as essential functions by most consultants and in a business consulting scenario, purposes five to 8 are the ones that add value to the client. However, it should note that these higher purposes could not achieve unless the lower objects have acquired first. They are essential to competent consulting even if not recognized as explicit goals when the engagement begins.
Moving up the list of the pyramid, and towards more ambitious purposes requires increasing sophistication and skill in the process of business consulting.
We will discuss each of these goals and purposes to give a better understanding.
Perhaps the most common reason for acquiring the services of a business consultant is this. The provision of Information compiling it may involve attitude surveys, cost studies, feasibility studies, market surveys, or analyses of the competitive structure of an industry or business.
Often the situation occurs where a Client merely requires Information. But Information that a Client requires is often different from what requested from a Business Consultant. Seemingly impertinent questions from both sides should not be cause for offense—they can be highly productive. Moreover, professionals have a responsibility to explore the underlying needs of their clients. They must respond to requests for data in a way that allows them to decipher and address other needs as an accepted part of the engagement’s agenda.
Clients often give consultants severe problems to solve and complicated issues to resolve. For example, a client might wish to know whether to make or buy a component, acquire or divest a line of business, or change a marketing strategy. Or management may ask how to restructure the organization to be able to adapt more readily to change; which financial policies to adopt; or what the most practical solution is for a problem in compensation, morale, efficiency, internal communication, control, management succession, or whatever.
Seeking solutions to the problems mentioned above is certainly a legitimate function. But the Consultant also has a professional responsibility to ask whether the question posed is the one that requires solving.
In many scenarios, most business consulting requirements put forth by the client are not what cause the problems in the first place. The underlying causes need to be understood and communicated to the client by the Consultant.
Business Consultants are effectively diagnosticians. However, it can be said that the relationship between a business consultant and his client can be strained during the consulting process. Competent diagnosis requires more than an examination of the external environment, the technology and economics of the business, and the behavior of non-managerial members of the organization.
When clients participate in the diagnostic process, they are more likely to acknowledge their role in problems and to accept a redefinition of the consultant’s task. Top firms, therefore, establish such mechanisms as joint consultant-client task forces to work on data analysis and other parts of the diagnostic process.
The engagement characteristically concludes with a written report or oral presentation that summarizes what the Consultant has learned, and that recommends in some detail what the client should do. Firms devote a great deal of effort to designing their reports so that the Information and analysis are present, and the recommendations are convincingly related to the diagnosis on which they are based.
Untold numbers of seemingly convincing reports, submitted at great expense, have no real impact because—due to constraints outside the Consultant’s assumed bailiwick—the relationship stops at the formulation of theoretically sound recommendations that can’t be implemented.
In the most successful relationships, there is not a rigid distinction between roles; formal recommendations should contain no surprises if the client helps develop them and the Consultant is concerned with their implementation.
The Business Consultant attends a proper role in implementation is a matter of considerable debate in the profession. Some argue that one who helps put recommendations into effect takes on the part of the manager and thus exceeds consulting’s legitimate bounds. Others believe that those who regard implementation solely as the client’s responsibility lack a professional attitude since recommendations that are not implemented (or are poorly implemented) are a waste of money and time.
Active work on implementation problems requires a level of trust and cooperation that is developed gradually throughout the engagement.
Any engagement’s usefulness to an organization depends on the degree to which members reach accord on the nature of problems and opportunities and appropriate corrective actions. Otherwise, the diagnosis won’t be accepted, recommendations won’t be implemented, and valid data may be withheld.
Management consultants like to leave behind something of lasting value. This means not only enhancing clients’ ability to deal with immediate issues but also helping them learn methods needed to cope with future challenges. It does not imply that competent professionals work themselves out of a job. Consultants facilitate learning by including members of the organization in the assignment’s processes.
Learning during projects is a two-way street. In every engagement, consultants should learn how to be more effective in designing and conducting projects.
Sometimes successful implementation requires not only new management concepts and techniques but also different attitudes regarding management functions and prerogatives or even changes in how the primary purpose of the organization is defined and carried out. The term organizational effectiveness is used to imply the ability to adapt future strategy and behavior to environmental change and to optimize the contribution of the organization’s human resources.
Increasing consensus, commitment, learning, and future effectiveness are not proposed as substitutes for the more common purposes of management and business Consulting but as desirable outcomes of any effective consulting process. The extent to which they can be built into methods of achieving more traditional goals depends on the understanding and skill with which the whole consulting relationship is managed.