Management Consulting 101: Types of consulting

If you haven’t had the opportunity to pick up any of the popular management consulting books available in the market, we’ll help you learn the basics.
Management consultant Amit (aka MBA Dropout) continues his series on the management consulting industry. This time he covers the various types of consulting jobs – from the mainstream options like strategy consulting and operations consulting to the niche markets (real estate consulting, design consulting etc).


Types of Management Consulting jobs

Management & Strategy Consulting – This is about helping an organization become more efficient. Examples would be to reduce costs (cut down on overheads, increase efficiency), help it expand (launch strategy of new product or service, expand footprint into a new geography) and assist in pricing products and services (price a new aircraft engine for sale to Air India versus Kuwait Airways).

  • IT/Technology Consulting – Anything to do with technology and IT would fall into IT consulting. A firm might want to have a central repository of data – a new data-warehouse would need to be built, which would necessitate a complete data review process – “as-is” and “to-be” scenarios would need to be worked out, a database solution (Oracle, Microsoft SQL, etc.) would need to be selected. The IT division of a firm might need guidance on which CRM or ETL tool would lead to minimal implementation and support costs, considering factors such as data volumes, types, size of customer base, details to be captured, integration with upstream and downstream systems, etc.
  • Operations Consulting – This type of consulting mostly applies to manufacturing-type situations. For instance, a firm might want to reduce assembly line defects from 5% to 1% in 3 months. A call center might want to achieve waiting time reduction of 1 minute, and 5% improvement in “abandonments”.
  • HR Consulting – As companies strive to improve the productivity of their employees, HR Consulting has become a very important consulting type over the last few years. They assist companies with framing of employee friendly HR policies, guidelines and mandates, improve performance management systems (which would include modes/types of feedback, appraisals, reward and recognition criteria, etc.), determine processes to streamline performance based incentives/compensation, etc.
  • Marketing & Sales Consulting – A firm might need assistance in understanding what the most effective promotional channels are, which ones to consider, how budgets should be allocated across these channels, how large the marketing and sales team should be, how to increase reach of sales teams, how they should track effectiveness (and take corrective action immediately), etc.
  • Real Estate Consulting – Real Estate Consultants assist firms with valuations, property-related legislation (tax, compliance, etc.), locating and renovating/building the best possible office/factory/residential space at the lowest possible price.
  • Boutique & “small shops”
    • Engineering Consulting – A city might need a new bridge across a river, for which design and building plans would be required, a new factory with multiple automated assembly lines might need to be constructed, an engine might need to be designed for a new aircraft, or a helipad might need to be built atop a 100-storey building. Engineering Consultants would be employed for such assignments.
    • Design Consulting – Design Consulting companies help with design of new products – phones, musical instruments, watchs, computers, etc., or civil structures – stadia, theatres, hotels, etc., or a new one of a kind beachfront home for a billionaire.
    • Pharma Consulting – Pharma Consultants assist with launch strategy of new drugs, marketing of drugs about to lose patent and go generic, pricing/co-pay in collaboration with medical insurance companies, legislation, etc.
    • Petro Consulting – Petro Consultants help answer questions such as which drilling site would have the most oil reserves, least risk, most favorable legislation, etc.

Often a management consulting company would offer services in multiple areas. For example, the top consulting firms in the world offer Management / Strategy Consulting, IT / Technology Consulting and Operations Consulting services. There are virtually an infinite number of types of consulting companies specializing in every imaginable type of consulting – the list is endless.

Typical business problems

  • Does a merger make sense? Would the value of the whole be greater than the sum of the parts?
  • 5 new competitors are about to enter a particular market in the next 3 years. We need a sales forecast for the next 5 years. Develop a strategy that would allow us to preserve/gain market share.
  • My marketing department is burning money. I need to reduce costs without affecting performance and sales in any way.
  • I need a datawarehouse built for my company. As of today, I don’t have even a single centralized data repository – everything exists on employees’ laptops in a thousand spreadsheets. How do I go about it?
  • I want to introduce my product/service in China, Taiwan and Malaysia. Build me a roadmap, and entry/launch strategy.
  • Employees at my company are unhappy with our current performance management/appraisal and R&R system/process. How do we revamp the system/process to motive and drive employees more effectively, increase employee satisfaction, and at the same time give them more relevant, pointed, specific, constructive and practical feedback?
  • My (petroleum) company is looking at 4 prospective offshore drilling sites. I want to go for the two most profitable options. Which two?
  • We have had the same brand positioning, value proposition, logo, mission statement, etc. for 50 years now. The world has changed, and so have we. We need our logo, brand positioning, messaging, mission statement, etc. to be in sync with what we are today. Please help us transform our company/brand.
  • Yesterday it was only email, then there were Orkut and MySpace, and now it is all about Facebook and Twitter. I want our company to be future ready from the digital promotions perspective. What should be my roadmap and strategy?

If you’ve always wondered if you’d make a good consultant, get a free profile evaluation from Amit on our Management Consulting Jobs forum.


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Sameer Kamat //
Sameer Kamat

Founder of MBA Crystal Ball. Author of Beyond The MBA Hype & Business Doctors. Here’s more about me. Connect with me on Google+ | Twitter | Facebook | Linkedin

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