Understanding Consulting: It’s More Than Giving Advice

Understanding Consulting

Understanding Consulting

By Abby Hindle, Halal Incorp

Consulting, and the role of a consultant, is a broadly defined term that is used by people in many different roles. So, what is a consultant? What are the benefits of hiring or becoming one? And how would someone go about succeeding in such a role?

There is no official, legal protection for the title of ‘consultant’. It is generally defined as someone who is an expert in a particular field who offers advice to an individual or organisation on things related to that field. The consultant supplies expertise the client does not have and receives a fee for this service. A consultant also provides the benefit of an objective eye – as they operate independently of their client’s organisation, they have no conflict of interest and can offer an unbiased, well-informed outsider’s point of view. 

Consulting: Industry Overview and Careers in Consulting

Understanding Consulting

The role of a consultant can vary tremendously depending on what industry they operate in. as they are hired in basically every industry, there is a wide variety of types of consultants. Consultancy is a very diverse market, with a broad range. The lack of legal protection for the term ‘consultant’ also means many different people may describe themselves as such. A few different types of consultants that are often sought after include:

Strategy Consultants:

This role involves working with top managers (directors, CxOs, etc) on topics of strategy, economic or government policy, corporate strategy and organisational strategy. This role is one at the top of the consultancy market. The focus of strategic consultancy, unlike other consultancy roles, is quantitative and analytic skills, and giving advice rather than overseeing implementation. 

IT Consultants:

Vital to almost every area, IT consultants help with the development and use of Information Technology (IT). They help implement projects in positions such as project manager. This is a fast-growing and in-demand field, especially in areas such as cyber security and data science. 

HR Consultants:

HR consultants assist with human capital issues and the function of HR departments. It is their role to help with organisational changes, terms of employment, and managing talent among many other things. They are also instrumental in areas like organisational design, as another function they serve is changing the culture of HR departments. 

Understanding Consulting

Financial Advisory Consultants 

Financial advisory consultants address the financial capabilities of an organisation. This role attracts a variety of people, ranging from corporate finance advisors to real estate consultants to forensic researchers. 

Management Consultants:

Also known as organisational advisors or business consultants. They focus on organisational issues of all kinds in their clients’ organisations. As a result of this broad scope, over half of all consultants can be considered management consultants. 

Operations Consultants:

This role varies from being advisory to involving hands-on implementation of operations in areas such as marketing, production, supply chains and legal. 

Understanding Consulting

Why You Should Hire A Consultant? There are many reasons to hire a consultant. Here is a short summary of some of the most important ones. 

Expertise – consultants operate in specific niches, allowing them to accrue vast amounts of knowledge and experience in these areas that most people simply don’t have the time to gather for themselves. They have an in-depth knowledge of areas most clients will have a basic understanding of if any. This saves time, energy and stress for the client, as you can simply hire someone instead of either having to do vast amounts of research or relying on the (possibly insufficient) knowledge you have. consultants are also more likely to keep up to date with new developments in their field, which gives you a chance to stay ahead of competitors. 

Outsider’s Opinions – consultants, as independent operators, are unaffected by the internal workings and politics of any organisation they are hired by. They have no personal stake in the organisation, thus allowing for unbiased, critical appraisal and valuable opinions. 

One-Off Cost – despite the initial expense of hiring a consultant, consultants do not incur overhead costs such as benefits or having to provide a workspace or equipment. 

Why You Should Become a Consultant?

Range – consultants work on an enormous range of projects in different sectors and industries. The variety of clients and projects ensures a depth of opportunities and work experience it is hard to match in many other careers. 

Career Opportunities – consultancy is a large field that provides a lot of responsibility and new work experiences very soon in your career. There are lots of opportunities for progress and career advancement, and networking in such a role is easy due to the number of people in high-up positions the job involves meeting. 

Knowledge Of Different Industries – It is likely that you will take on roles in many different industries. Giving you the chance to experience them. this allows you to develop new skillsets and possibly develop your career in new, exciting directions. 

Succeeding As a Consultant: Reliability – following through on your promises and doing what you said you would when you said you’d do it. It is a key component to building trust and a positive reputation among clients and colleagues. 

Developing Specific Skills – everyone trying to become a successful consultant is highly qualified. It is helpful to develop a skill in a particular area to help you stand out. Honing a specific skill helps you become the go-to for that skill, meaning people are more likely to seek you out because they know they will be getting the best. 

Build And Maintain Relationships – having a network is crucial to success in any industry. Meet new people and ensure you stay in contact with them. 

Discretion – many clients often prefer to have consultants keep their work confidential so that details of their operations are not disclosed without their permission. 

Understanding Consulting: The role of a consultant is a varied and challenging one, and one that is highly valued across many industries. Whether you are thinking of hiring a consultant or becoming one, the above is a summary of the role to help inform you on what it entails and what the advantages are. 

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