What Is Consulting?
Within the global ecosystem of professional enterprises, internal teams are typically comprised of experts who specialize in carrying out specific duties within their purview. As global businesses became more prominent and organizations needed experts to fill in gaps of knowledge, consultancy practices - starting in the United States - became commonplace in the late nineteenth century. Consulting is, to put it simply, the process where an expert gives professional advice to businesses, along with suggestions, tips, principles, and counsel on how to conduct their affairs. Consulting has changed, and has gone from encompassing a broad range of specialties associated with the whole of a business on a macro-scale, to having specialists - associated with specific departments - give advice on specific intra-departmental affairs.
Consultants usually have an “information” or “experience” advantage and have usually completed years of academic study, along with training and certification, and have gained years of experience.
Consultants may often present to the Board of an organization and may report to, and work with, the top three C-suite executives, including the Chief Executive Officer, the Chief Operating Officer, and the Chief Financial Officer. They may take on entire projects or give advice on general, low-level processes across an organization after a careful review. Regulations are in place to protect both consultants and companies, and contracts are usually in place - along with a non-disclosure statement - so that the contractor protects the proprietary information and the rights of the company. It is important to note, however, that ultimately, the consultant works in the interest of the company, while remaining independent and objective.
A consultant will often be brought in on a job for his/her expertise on a process or subject, in order to provide an external, objective, expert opinion where it is needed. He/she will typically review key data, cases, infrastructure information, strategy, and plans - along with goals - and, with an understanding of the business model, write a report or give a presentation explaining what direction a company should take. He/she may also end up working on his/her plans, in order to implement the solutions as a contractor. Thus, consultants are typically involved with management cases (assisting management with optimizing and organizing short-term projects and business activities/workflows), and strategic planning (assisting executives with fulfilling their long-term objectives by altering any number of business structures, processes, or projects).
As outsourcing has become more affordable (hiring contractors and/or consultants), oftentimes SMEs rely solely on consultants without having internal teams carry out specific tasks that such an outsourced specialist is capable of completing. This often entails management consultancy and strategic planning.