The UK business consultant industry is vast and far reaching, leading many to rightly question, what is a business consultant? Well soon you will have all the details you need. This ultimate guide has a range of key and easily digestible information about the UK Business Consultant industry. All in one place.
A business consultant is an external party that offers advice, support and expertise to an individual or business. Generally, a scope of works will detail what is required and the pricing structure of the engagement. A scoping document may also highlight what is outside of this agreement but may be required at a later date. A payment structure will also be included, with common payment structures including an initial payment, milestone payments, or payments based on project delivery.
The management consultancy and business consultancy industry in the U.K is completely unregulated. Anyone can do it. So to set up a business offering any type of consultancy service, you don’t require any specific or protected legal status.
A client will generally look for skills you can demonstrate in the area of consultancy that they are looking to engage. After all, consultancy itself is a service and people will want some value from the service they are buying in.
There are business consultants operating in every aspect and facet of business. This sounds like defining the scope of consultants would be impossible. Don’t worry though. In the UK, there are five major pillars of consultancy that are easy to identify with.
We have put together a little introduction to each, as well as major businesses operating in this area you will probably have heard of.
Strategy and management consultancy can be used in a variety of ways. You may be hiring in a consultant that has a history of strategy execution particularly in your area of operation. Or, you may look for a holistic management consultant that can adapt complex strategic theory, to your specific situation.
Generally, management and strategy consultants will have formalised consultancy training, as well as either experience in the private sector or with a large organisation, like one of the big four.
In this segment however, the faster growing agencies are the more adaptable, and ultimately accessible SME management consultancy companies.
A HR consultant is one of the most popular types of business consultant that people can think of, but don’t realise is classed as business consultancy.
If you have ever worked with an external recruiter, you have worked with a business consultant.
In the UK, a HR consultancy company you will undoubtedly have heard of would be Reed. Such companies can help identify, shortlist, primary interview and offer contracts to talent. They will generally have an extensive talent pool to pull from, both from active databases as well as relationships maintained over years of practice.
HR consultants can also support in specific strategic opportunities, such as employee retention programmes. These consultants can offer an outside perspective on opportunities to benefit your employees and overall business.
Operation consultants are focused on process redesign and implementation projects. Operation consultation and process redesign generally takes shape over four phases, starting with scoping a project and setting a team. After the existing process is mapped, opportunities are highlighted to improve the process, a trial process is tested and implemented, before a feedback loop seeks to streamline and bed in a new process effectively. Done correctly, operational consultancy projects can deliver huge benefits to businesses.
IT consultants can range massively in their scope.
Infrastructure and improvement partners such as EC-MSP deliver outsourced hardware solutions, as well as wide ranging support on IT software consultancy projects.
Then there are ultra-fast growing specialist companies such as Cloud Gateway offer services you might not have known you need, or even existed – yet drive massive improvements to your current IT infrastructure.
In between both of these are a myriad of software consultants who can adapt and design software solutions specific to your business needs.
Marketing consultants can take many guises.
Marketing consultants change size, shape and specialty all the way through to full marketing consultancy agencies such as Flocc. These companies will offer full turnkey marketing solutions. Including branding, strategy through to implementation and execution.
In the UK there are formalised and recognised management and business consultancy training courses that can give you the tools required to operate within the business consultancy sector.
The Level 7 Diploma in Professional Consulting is a joint award from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and the Institute of Consulting (IoC), both UK professional institutes and awarding bodies. The syllabus has at it’s core, real world consultancy based training, and includes the following elements.
As an ongoing award, the IoC offers their Certified Management Consultant (CMC) course to all members or fellows. That means consultants working in real world consultancy practices with a demonstrable track record of achieving consultancy based outcomes. This involves an application, a commitment to a professional development plan and interviews with assessors to demonstrate the required knowledge and skills to uphold the IoC’s standards.
Hiring a business consultant, like any business purchase should, be given a lot of consideration. With the world of business consultants being unregulated, and not protected by a legal status, there are some key points you should take into consideration, before hiring a consultant.
If you have highlighted an issue, make sure that you outline what the project you are looking to complete. As with any contract you are tendering, ensuring a correct and specified scope is in place prior the tender process.
At the tender stage, you can write out this project outline, but in a way that allows the consultant to add their value to your specific situation. After all, it is their expertise you are hiring.
During the tender process, it is worthwhile checking the credibility of the consultant you are looking to hire. This can be done both through your meeting with the consultant, as well as with their other exiting clients and checking and accreditations they may have.
We hope you have enjoyed this in depth guide on what a business consultant actually is. If you liked this guide, or feel we have missed a key area. Please take the time to comment below and let us know.