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How to create a digital transformation strategy

A digital transformation strategy goes beyond adopting new technology or upgrading IT systems. It outlines your organisation’s steps to leverage emerging technologies to achieve core business objectives. Think of it as a roadmap that explores where you are now, where you want to be and how you’ll get there. You can plan and implement in-house or use digital transformation consulting services to help.

A digital transformation strategy means reimagining how your organisation operates and how you reach your customers. It can impact all business areas and involve your people, processes and the technologies you use.

Some typical benefits of a digital transformation strategy are:

  • Customer-led approach – focuses on the customer and how digital disruption could impact their behaviour.
  • Improved customer journeysimplement an end-to-end approach to conceive and deliver each customer’s outcome.
  • Data-driven insightsevidence-based insights to develop a sustainable business advantage.
  • Drive growthcan drive growth by providing on-demand services, empowering employees, improving security and aiding faster decision-making.
  • Increased agilityorganisations may be able to react better to threats and exploit opportunities.
  • Increased profitabilityorganisations leading with digital transformation may be able to drive increased revenue while reducing costs.

A digital transformation consultant can support unlocking digital opportunities – learn more about how to find great management consulting services.

digital transformation consultant

How to build a digital transformation strategy

Many digital transformation projects don’t come to fruition without expert support, so it’s important to have experienced people on your team who understand the process.

According to a McKinsey report, almost 70% of digital transformation projects fail, while another report found that just 16% of business leaders say their digital transformations successfully improved performance.

However, following a few simple principles can reduce the risk of projects failing. The steps involved in building a successful digital transformation strategy include:

  • Defining goals and vision
  • Mapping out the technology you’ll need
  • Defining the investment required
  • Establishing ways of working

Need help? Our digital transformation consulting marketplace can help you find the right consultant to support your objectives.

1. Defining digital transformation goals

One of the biggest challenges of digital transformation is getting everyone inside an organisation to agree on the ‘why’ of doing it.

Start by setting a digital transformation strategy by identifying your business needs and goals.

The more specific and considered the goals and the benchmarks, the better your strategy’s chance of success. Consider your short and longer-term (5-10 year) business goals.

Commons goals for digital transformation include:

  • Delivering better customer service
  • Creating a competitive advantage
  • Improving the experience of your employees
  • Reducing costs
  • Improving data security

Agree on frequent, consistent measurements to ensure that work is on track.

Set clear milestones and start with low-hanging fruit. Share the digital transformation roadmap with senior stakeholders and update them through detailed communications plans.

2. Put people at the heart of your digital transformation strategy

Digital transformation affects every part of a business, particularly employees.

People sit at the heart of any organisation and can resist change, so it’s worth investing time and energy to encourage them in the direction the organisation is heading.

Think about how you can positively drive cultural change.

Senior leaders’ support can help you sell the vision to the rest of the organisation. Consider building a team of organisational change champions. Pick employees with solid people skills who can encourage and tackle resistance. They can help you to create a culture that understands and is responsive to digital transformation throughout the organisation.

Every employee should understand why digital transformation is happening and what behaviour changes are needed to support the project’s success.

If budgets allow, consider hiring a Chief Digital Officer to coordinate the digital transformation. For smaller budgets, a digital transformation consultant can be a valuable addition to the programme – start your search with Portevo here.

You may also wish to review whether you need additional skills within your organisation. Are there gaps in digital skills and competencies? If so, how will you fill these? Are you hiring new people, or can you upskill existing staff as part of your transformation programme?

Read our guide on designing a customer experience (CX) strategy.

digital transformation consulting firms

3. Lighthousing – smaller projects to prove digital transformation

Easy wins can set you on the path to digital transformation.

A helpful tactic is to deploy ‘lighthouse’ projects. A lighthouse project is a small-scale project that looks at the big-picture project and is the beacon for the future of digital transformation.

A lighthouse project is:

  • Designed to be visible across an organisation
  • Touches multiple areas and so can unlock resources for future projects
  • Is a change agent that proves the concept of digitisation
  • Has a hard deadline, so there is an incentive to break down barriers

Lighthouse projects have the potential to be popular with customers and, on average, can deliver cost savings of up to 40% and a five per cent increase in ROI.

Defining your lighthouse project early is helpful as it highlights new ways of working, including agile approaches.

An agile digital transformation roadmap aims to deliver progress over perfection. By using an agile methodology, organisations learn from each iteration and adapt to demands and needs, which reduces the risk of failure.

Using agile empowers organisations to start digital initiatives and learn from them.

4. Mapping out the technology you’ll need

Once you have outlined your business goals, you can create a strategic roadmap to help you achieve that vision.

You need a clear technology roadmap that outlines the technologies you currently have, as well as any digital transformation consulting support that might be required. This will ensure that your digital transformation initiative is successful.

It’s important to have a plan for how you’ll get from A to B. This may include new infrastructure, recruitment, tech stack updates or a switch to a more agile way of doing things. The roadmap should be adaptable and evolve with the changing priorities of the digital landscape.

Some of the established and emerging technologies you might want to consider are:

  • artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • cloud-based computing (including security requirements)
  • data security tools, including 3D authentication
  • mobile (including apps).

Read our guide to what to look for when choosing an e-commerce consultant.

5. Seek partnerships to deliver digital transformation

While driving digital transformation does require internal change, you may still need external partners to help guide and shape the transformation process to ensure its effectiveness.

Digital transformation consultants can help you accelerate digital transformation, but they don’t replace your Chief Digital Officer or your Chief Technology Officer. Instead, they serve as a trusted advisor with experience and expertise in strategy, technology, and change management.

A digital transformation consultant can help with:

  • Pathfinding and identifying technology trends and developments
  • Supporting platform development and deployment
  • Identifying technologies to deploy and building a business case on implementation
  • Developing a technology roadmap and critical adoption path
  • Identifying and mitigating risks such as data processing and technology migration

There may be specialist roles where digital transformation consultancy can help, including project management, leadership, application support, knowledge transfer, data analytics and security.

Read our guide on hiring a management consultant.

digital transformation strategy

How will you know if your digital transformation is successful?

Set out measures for success early on in your digital transformation journey, and know how you’ll measure yourself against those objectives.

You should look at internal and external measures of success.

For example, you may want to measure employee and customer satisfaction, cost savings and increased revenues. Other metrics will relate to the digital transformation process, such as establishing new ways of working and automating transactions and operations.

Need digital transformation consulting support? Learn more about Portevo’s innovative consulting marketplace that ensures you find the right consultant for your project.

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Signs your organisation should hire a consultant

Organisations may face operational and logistical challenges, especially against disruptive shifts such as supply chain constraints, economic turmoil and disruptive technology that can leave some organisations standing while competitors leap ahead.

Unchecked challenges can result in inertia where organisations remain stuck while agile competitors – often with a clear strategic direction – win market share and realise efficiencies.

Bringing in external expertise can be a smart way to unlock your organisation’s potential. Experienced consultants, unencumbered by internal politics and entrenched processes, can be the fleet-of-thought catalysts an organisation needs to move confidently forwards.

Consulting has many benefits, but the first step is recognising signs that your organisation should consider hiring a consultant.

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10 signs that you should hire a consultant

Organisations are constantly facing challenges, uncertainty and opportunity. Several signposts can indicate your organisation might need to consider hiring a consultant.

1. You’re making consistent profits

Consistent profits may seem a positive, but it can be a sign that you’re not investing enough in the right areas for future growth.

Investing profit back into your organisation can make strategic sense to ensure you’re in a position to scale, enter new markets or prevent new entrants from eroding your market share.

From developing new products, implementing pricing strategies or investing in technology, a management consultant can help you identify and invest in the right areas of your organisation.

2. Uncharted industry change

Shifting industry landscapes can wrongfoot even the most stable of organisations. From industry-defining legislation to disruptive technologies, broader change can quickly overwhelm organisations that haven’t mapped a path through disruption.

If your organisation doesn’t have the resource capacity to identify and assess the impact of industry change, then this can be a surefire sign that you need to hire a consultant.

A consultant can identify threats and opportunities, and develop a strategic approach to capitalising on opportunities while mitigating organisational risk.

3. Growth has stagnated

Growth can be hard. Organisations can expend considerable resources in maintaining existing revenues, customers and operations – leading to a challenge in moving from static performance to scaling your organisation.

Consultants can bring two skills to bear. Firstly, they can help an organisation take a step back from the everyday and identify strategic growth opportunities – from new markets to innovative processes that transform output.

Second, they can lead in implementing change that drives growth, from optimising existing revenue streams and deploying platforms, processes and activities designed to grow the footprint and revenue of your organisation.

4. Trendspotting is a struggle

Identifying trends and repositioning your organisation to take advantage of them can be left on the side of desks as employees focus on the day-to-day.

Consultants can help organisations shift through competing trends to identify those that impact them. By modelling how trends impact and shape an organisation, they can form a crucial part of strategic planning based on insights and data.

5. Change is proving difficult

Implementing change within and across an organisation can be difficult. You might have tried introducing strategies to improve your company’s processes and efficiency but have seen little success. When in-house plans lose momentum, they can result in stagnation and an entrenched workforce resistant to change that may be vital to long-term success.

Implementing change and bringing leaders, managers and employees along is a genuine skill. Hiring a consultant can be an effective catalyst for change, with skills and experience – from coaching to HR expertise – that can equip a workforce with the tools, resilience and flexibility for change.

reasons to hire a marketing consultant

6. Struggling to deliver projects on time

If your organisation struggles to complete projects on time, it could be time to find a management consultant.

Failing to meet deadlines can put your organisation on the back foot through:

  • Increased costs
  • Stakeholder dissatisfaction
  • Loss of clients
  • Wasted time, resources and effort

Consultants – such as our marketplace of expert, experienced management consultants – are versed in efficient delivery, focused on project management that meet goals and with a clear set of outputs.

7. You’re coming unstuck with decision making

Indecision can lead to organisational paralysis. The challenge is your competitors, and new market entrants might not be standing still.

If your organisation struggles to make crucial decisions, this could signify when to hire a consultant. From the top team down, conflicting opinions can be healthy in mapping out a path, but a clash of views gums up the works that can be problematic.

A consultant can present an impartial viewpoint, not influenced by internal politics, to help forge a critical path and cut through decision-making inertia.

8. You need specialised expertise

Your organisation might need a particular skill set that is lacking from your internal team.

If your organisation is built with clearly defined functions and industry expertise, it can lack specialist skills and experience that can support growth. For example, traditional bricks-&-mortar stores moving into e-commerce sales may lack a specialist understanding of e-commerce platforms, payment gateways and digital marketing techniques.

Rather than employing full-time staff, it can be better to hire a consultant who can hit the ground running, imbue your organisation with valuable insights, and bring a been-there-done-that level of experience to bear on the problem.

9. Headcount resourcing

Hiring new employees can be inefficient and expensive, especially for one-off projects.

If you find your employees are often working on tasks outside of their skill set but not to the extent you can justify hiring FTEs for the role, then consulting might be a viable alternative. For example, you might want to develop a marketing strategy, but your organisation might not have or need a full-time marketing function.

By hiring a consultant, you can avoid internal employees wasting time completing tasks outside their expertise and potentially to a poor standard.

10. You want to understand where you are

A lack of clarity on how processes, from cyber security to customer satisfaction, are working and whether they are fit for purpose can be a pitfall for senior leadership teams.

Leaders often rely on their internal teams to provide unbiased updates and reports on performance and processes – typically in areas outside their expertise. For example, over a quarter of organisational leaders never get a cyber security update and lack adequate cyber security understanding to make effective decisions.

A consultant can offer an independent review of systems, processes, policies and people, providing leadership understanding of organisational gaps and risk areas to address.

Concerned about when to hire a business consultant?

Realise the benefits of consulting for your organisation and find an expert consultant for your strategic needs with our Portevo marketplace of independent consultants.

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What to look for when choosing an e-commerce consultant

While bricks-n-mortar stores are still the bedrock of UK retail sales, e-commerce sales are maintaining their upward trajectory even post-pandemic. While internet sales as a percentage of overall UK retail sales hit 25.3% in September 2022, up from 8.9% a decade ago, a retailer such as John Lewis saw two-thirds of sales come from online channels in 2021/22.

Developing an e-commerce strategy and implementing an e-commerce plan that plants your retail operations firmly in digital is a priority for many UK organisations. Whether it’s transforming entire operations online or optimising existing e-commerce processes and platforms, having a clear map of the e-commerce terrain is essential.

E-commerce consulting and bringing in the right e-commerce consultant can be a valuable route to plot your e-commerce path. This means finding someone with the appropriate level of experience, expertise and knowledge to drive results across the entire customer journey.

What is an e-commerce consultant?

An e-commerce consultant is a professional with expertise in e-commerce platforms, processes and operations. It’s a multi-disciplined role that reflects the various facets of e-commerce and the entire digital value chain.

In broad terms, consultants cover aspects of e-commerce, such as:

  • Customer and Market – research, identify, examine and determine demand for products, services and experiences.
  • Competitors – monitoring and assessing competitors and the position of e-commerce stores.
  • Marketing – creating and implementing a marketing strategy.
  • Data – such as identifying and implementing capture, processing and analytics systems.
  • Platforms – such as merchant systems and payment gateways.
  • Security – including financial and customer data protection.
  • Integration – connecting systems, including cloud-based services, payment systems, CRM and inventory control.

Organisations may also hire an e-commerce consultant to gain experienced advice and first-hand help in improving and growing their e-commerce practices and offerings. Consultants are typically hired when an organisation identifies a skills gap, especially if it pivots its operations online.

Recruiting a full-time staff member can be resource intensive – both in time and money – making appointing a consultant a convenient option.

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What do e-commerce consultants do?

E-commerce consultants do more than advise on creating and implementing an e-commerce strategy or advise on platforms and integrations.

Many tasks are focused on operational and marketing activities with the aim of cost-effective acquisition and conversion, along with improving metrics such as basket value, abandoned basket, and product margin.

Consulting tasks can include:

  • Identifying customer touchpoints and aligning them to marketing activity.
  • Developing strategies for new digital launches.
  • Creating and implementing multi-channel marketing campaigns such as email or social promotions.
  • Developing e-commerce marketing and sales KPIs and measurement systems.
  • Implementing marketing automation and retargeting communications.
  • Reviewing product offerings to determine profitability.
  • Identifying conversion funnel problems and optimisation.
  • Advising on user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) for online stores.

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What to consider when hiring an e-commerce consultant

1. Know your needs

Understanding the problem you want to address is the first step to developing a successful strategy.

Some challenges may be existential – from pivoting an organisation to an e-commerce-first model to re-platforming – while others are more specific, such as tackling abandoned sales.

Having a clear idea of the challenge that needs external support means you can clearly define the skills, experience and focus of an e-commerce consultant. While e-commerce is a specific discipline, some consultants will be better versed in digital marketing, payments, and platforms.

If you are clear on your needs, our project-building wizard can help define a statement of work and match it against our consultant marketplace.

2. Determine requirements

Once you’ve identified your organisation’s pain points, you can hunt for the right consultant. Because consulting is such a vast, diverse market, you’ll likely find hundreds of individuals and firms offering freelance and agency-based consulting.

However, it can be challenging to sift through potential consultants.

Check potential consultants against your needs, assessing aspects such as:

  • Experience
  • Sector knowledge
  • Platform knowledge
  • Technical expertise

Our extensive expert network of consultants helps bridge the gap between clients and consultants, giving you access to highly rated e-commerce consultants and teams.

3. Set a timeframe and budget

Be clear on what you want to achieve and by when, what resources you’ll need, and determine a budget for the project. E-commerce consultancy costs can vary depending on the level of consultant you hire. Large and mid-sized consultancy firms typically cost significantly more than individual consultants.

It can be sensible to draw up a clear statement of work, so the consultant understands and agrees to project deliverables within a budget and against a timeframe.

4. Client references

Before signing on with an e-commerce consultant, it’s worth reviewing their prior experience and clients whom they helped face similar problems. This is where researching past client testimonials can be a good idea, as it will give you a clearer picture of their processes and how the consultant works.

Ensure that you ask for testimonials, and check directly with previous clients to confirm the consultant has the skills and experience needed for your organisation.

A consultant marketplace such as Portevo ensures consultants are verified to ensure suitability for your project.

5. Ask the right questions

Whether hiring an individual consultant or choosing to work with a consulting firm, it’s vital to assess suitability for the project.

Examples of questions to ask include:

  • What examples do you have of successful e-commerce strategies and implementation?
  • What is your approach to working with internal teams across an organisation?
  • What are the big e-commerce challenges in my industry?
  • What similar projects have you worked on; what worked well and what was less successful?
  • How do you measure success?
  • What experience do you have with specific technologies, platforms, and payment systems?

Using a consulting marketplace

Finding an e-commerce consultant can involve time-consuming research.

Consultant marketplaces such as Portevo can help remove the guesswork, matching experienced, expert e-commerce consultants to projects. The result: the right consultant with the right level of experience and skills you need in a fraction of the time and who can bring valuable external insights into an organisation as it capitalises on e-commerce growth.

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Different types of management consultant explained

Consultancy is one of the most diverse, in-demand markets in the professional services industry. Capable of providing fresh perspectives and operating as a catalyst for change, consultants provide organisations with valuable insights that are often lacking from internal teams.

While many independent consultants and consultancy firms provide holistic, expert business advice across different areas of an organisation – often with a strategic dimension – many consultants specialise in specific disciplines, such as Marketing or Innovation.

Your choice of consultant should be driven by the problem you’re trying to solve and the outcome you want to deliver.

The business function or project focus can also drive it. While a general management consultant might be a good fit at a strategic level, an innovation and ideation expert might be better for projects involving developing new service offerings.

By understanding the types of consulting available, you can make the right decision when hiring a management consultant.

What is a consultant?

A consultant brings expert knowledge and skills to an organisation, typically on a per-project basis. They tend to have deep expertise within their field, such as working at C-suite or director level in marketing, operations, HR and IT.

They often work across a range of industries and organisations, though some will specialise within a particular sector such as fintech, education or retail. They can offer a range of expertise, such as creating a customer experience (CX) strategy or leading on digital transformation.

They can be known as consultants, management consultants or business consultants, but a business consultant can operate differently to a management consultant.

Consultants may work independently or as part of a firm of consultants. They may belong to organisations such as the MCA or bodies such as the Institute of Consulting (CMI) or operate as part of a consulting marketplace such as Portevo.

Read our guide to hiring a management consultant.

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Types of consultants

Brand and marketing

An organisation’s branding and marketing strategy is critical to its success.

Knowing how to best attract, convert and retain customers across multiple channels relies on a combination of marketing and brand building.

A brand and marketing consultant helps organisations identify profitable marketing channels and opportunities, can analyse data to identify cost-effect routes to market and devise a strategy to capitalise on customer, competitor and market trends.

They may also specialise in specific areas of marketing, such as social, paid, brand, CX, UX, or parts of the customer journey, such as CRM, acquisition, conversion or retention marketing.

Business change

Implementing change can be challenging, whether within a single department or across the entire organisation.

A business change consultant or change management consultant can help advise organisations on required changes, often aligned with an overall business strategy. Some can support implementation and lead change, utilising skills and experience to tackle entrenched blockers and provide the tools to foster positive employee engagement with changing operations, brand, workplace culture and policies.

Business transformation

Undertaking a business transformation can benefit an organisation immensely, leading to increased effectiveness and profit margins while reducing costs and driving efficiencies.

Business transformation consultants often work with clients on internal projects to integrate new strategies, processes and technology into the organisation to optimise operations and functions. Tasks can include designing and building business intelligence solutions, conducting industry trend and customer behaviour research, and evaluating new technologies before implementation.

Commercial strategy

Commercial strategy is concerned with sales and marketing strategies, optimising them to create value, such as sales opportunities and customer conversion. The two overlap as marketing strategies often directly impact sales funnels and activities.

Consultants specialising in commercial strategies often conduct industry and competitor research and collate customer data to gain insights into customer needs and buying behaviours. Evidence-led insights are used to develop new initiatives and strategies to create commercial benefits for their client organisation.

Customer experience (CX)

Ensuring customers have a positive experience when interacting with an organisation is essential for converting them into repeat, loyal customers. A great customer service strategy and procedures ensures your organisation can better serve customers.

A customer experience consultant may focus on understanding an organisation’s customer base, how best to communicate with them, their experience interacting with your brand, attitudes to store design, user experiences across e-commerce, or interactions with employees. These insights are harnessed to create CX strategies that meet and exceed customer expectations.

Find out more about how to design a customer experience strategy.

Digital and e-commerce

Digital and e-commerce encompass several organisational actions and processes, including selling products and services online, integrating merchant platforms and optimising conversion funnels.

Consultants support organisations by devising marketing strategies, evaluating payment gateways, assessing buyer experiences and positioning e-commerce activity for growth.

Innovation and ideation

For an organisation to stay relevant within the market, it may need to evolve and innovate how it operates and develop ideas for new services.

Using a consultant to help innovate and generate new ideas can lead to new market opportunities or the transformation of internal processes. Ideation techniques can also help internal teams reframe challenges and unlock creative thinking, developing a culture of innovation and problem-solving.

Product development

New product development (NPD) is a vast process involving disciplines such as customer research and competitor analysis through to financial modelling and operations.

NPD can involve the complete lifecycle of a product – from prototyping products and piloting new services to developing and implementing a go-to-market strategy. A product development consultant’s role is to facilitate product development and guide the process to launch, using evidence-based insights supported by financial forecasting and operational design.

Sustainability

Sustainability is increasingly becoming a priority for many organisations. Stakeholders such as investors and clients are keen to be associated with organisations with robust environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies. In addition, many upstream clients are making environmental credentials a crucial part of tender applications throughout the supply chain.

Some consultants specialise in various areas of sustainability, such as energy or green workplace initiatives, and can design and implement new strategies to make an organisation more energy efficient and eco-conscious.

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Where can I find a business consultant?

Finding the right consultant for your organisation is just as important as finding the right full-time employee.

With Portevo, you can find the highly-qualified, verified consultant you need using our project wizard, which matches your project scope with the right consultants for the job.

Find out more about the benefits of using a consultant on the Portevo blog, and check out our platform explainer video to know more.

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Guide to hiring a management consultant

Developing a strategy to scale your business, move into a new market or adapt to changing legislation such as sustainability can be challenging when you’re focused on day-to-day operations.

Hiring a management consultant can provide the catalyst to plot a course for change and growth, pivoting your business and aligning it for the future. Management consultants help transform organisations, bringing in outside expertise coupled with hard-won experience and know-how.

Management consultant guide

Management consultants provide organisations with on-demand, unbiased strategic and operational advice. They are a valuable resource for UK businesses, from start-ups and SMEs to large corporations and PLCs.

With just over £14bn spent in 2021 on consulting services, on-demand experts provide deep insights and actionable strategies to help position businesses for change.

Accessing a pool of expert management consultants isn’t just for high-spending corporations. Find expert consultants on our marketplace and see how we help clients specify and hire consultants for projects that deliver without wasted spend.

 

What is a management consultant?

A management consultant is an individual who has expert knowledge, skills and experiences beneficial to an organisation.

They work across all industries and with organisations of all sizes to provide clients with the expert skills and knowledge needed to problem solve, maximise growth and improve business practices.

Many are former senior leaders and C-suite executives such as CIOs, CTOs, CMOs and CEOs with plenty of hands-on experience. They may also belong to organisations such as the MCA or bodies such as the Institute of Consulting (CMI) or operate as part of a new model consulting marketplace such as Portevo.

Management consultant vs contractor vs freelancer

Contractors, consultants and freelancers perform different tasks and provide different outputs – though the terms are often used interchangeably.

While a consultant helps evaluate needs and provides expert advice to shape strategy and improvements, a contractor typically fills a less strategic role. Contractors are often hired to provide expertise in performing specific tasks, such as IT support, product development, project management and specialist marketing skills. They tend to work exclusively for a client for a specific time. Freelancers tend to offer a range of task-based services, such as PR support, but unlike contractors, they typically work for several clients at the time time.

  • Consultants – provide professional experience and expert knowledge, such as delivering a digital transformation strategy.
  • Contractors – provide task-based or function-based skills, usually for a fixed term or project such as developing a website.
  • Freelancers – wide range of skillsets usually offered to multiple clients simultaneously, delivering support on a part-time or ad hoc basis.

 

Why should you hire a management consultant?

Hiring a management consultant brings many benefits, including:

  • Better value – by focusing on defined deliverables and outcomes, you only pay for the results you seek.
  • More flexible than hiring employees – sometimes you only need expertise for a specific purpose or period; no point in making a permanent hire.
  • Skills gaps – consultants bridge skills gaps within organisations, allowing for informed insights and decision-making.
  • Client focus – consultants devote their time to a project without day-to-day work distractions, such as internal meetings.
  • Effective onboarding – they don’t require training, meaning they can hit the ground running faster than a new hire.
  • Unlocking perspectives – They provide an objective perspective not often possible from within an organisation, breaking stalemates and avoiding internal biases.
  • Insights – They provide expert knowledge for specific markets and industries that can inform strategy building and decision-making.
  • Implementation – They support implementing change within an organisation, bringing staff, teams and stakeholders along.

what is a management consultant

What does a management consultant do?

Organisations hire management consultants to work with them to improve their performance, using their expert skills and knowledge to solve problems and help an organisation prepare for or execute change.

Consultants undertake tasks such as assessing an organisation’s current situation, conducting audits and gap analyses, assessing competitors, surfacing market trends and insights, and developing a strategy and action plan for the business to implement. They can also stay with their client organisation to support or lead on the actual implementation plan.

Projects that consultants work on can be generally split into three categories: strategy, management and operations.

Strategy consulting

A strategic management consultant will have a broader knowledge of business and organisational processes. They can help organisations answer the question, “where do we go from here, and how do we get there?”.

Their role is to assess the current position of their client, understand the goals they wish to achieve within a specific timeframe, and work with their client to develop a realistic strategy for achieving those goals. They may also guide their client on how the strategy can be executed, providing valuable input and direction.

Strategic consulting is typically focused on strategies that enable organisations to grow or scale, delivering outputs such as strategic plans, implementation roadmaps and evaluating options and opportunities for an organisation.

Strategy consultants provide services covering disciplines such as:

  • Business model transformation
  • Corporate strategy
  • Digital strategy
  • Economic policy
  • Functional strategy
  • Mergers and acquisitions (M&A)
  • Organisational strategy
  • Strategy and operations

Management consulting

A management consultant provides expertise, experience and professional advice covering strategic direction through to implementing a strategy, such as digital transformation or rolling out learning and development across an organisation.

Management consultants provide clients with valuable insights and advice to help them reach their goals across all areas of business and make slow execution a thing of the past. They provide clients with objectivity on projects, offering new points of view and perspectives that may even have previously been dismissed due to in-organisation biases.

Management consultants provide a range of services such as:

  • Digital – increasingly part of management consulting services, includes services such as developing an IT strategy through to implementation.
  • HR – focused on talent within an organisation, such as leading organisational change or advising on and implementing HR compensation, benefits and analytics.
  • Operations – focused on operational issues such as procurement, supply chain, R&D and marketing.
  • Strategy – broad support for an organisation tackling strategic questions relating to M&A, business models and corporate direction.

Operational consulting

An operational consultant delivers expertise and experience designed to optimise and add value to various parts of an organisation’s operations. Projects can involve evaluating, assessing and developing routes for processes such as IT infrastructure, finance and sales operations. A key part of the role is implementing performance improvements to existing operational functions.

Operational consultants provide services such as:

  • Business process management
  • Finance
  • Organisational Operations
  • Outsourcing
  • R&D
  • Sales and marketing
  • Supply chain

what is management consulting

Hiring the right consultant for your organisation

It can be challenging to find the right consultant – you may feel you’re limited to large firms coupled with high fees.

There are different ways of engaging consultancy services, from large established firms such as KPMG, Deloitte and Accenture to smaller firms that may specialise in a particular consulting area, such as operational or HR. Nearly 17,000 consultancies launched in 2021, according to industry data.

Large consultancy firms

These firms tend to work on a direct sales model, where partners develop client relationships and are responsible for delivering business to the firm. Large consultancy firms such as Accenture, PA Consulting and PwC Consulting offer access to an in-house pool of expertise covering various sectors, services and industries.

Large firms tend to be at the top end of fee-charging, with customers typically FTSE 250, large corporations, public sector, charities and enterprises.

Small/medium consultancy firms

Smaller consultancy firms also tend to sell directly to clients, with a limited number of consultants within the firm covering a range of skills, experience and expertise. They may focus on a specific sector or industry, or specialise in an operational function such as R&D or HR, focusing on larger SMEs.

Fees tend to be mid-range relative to large consultancy firms.

Individuals

Many experienced professionals set themselves up as individual consultants.

They often market themselves via networking and referrals and engage with a range of clients. Many individual consultants are highly specialised, such as data, IT and cyber security experts, while others are more management or strategy-focused.

Fees tend to be lower than sourcing a consultant from a firm.

Portevo’s consulting marketplace provides access to strategic, functional and sector-specific consultants that help you find the right combination of independent consultants tailored to your project without the high fees of consulting firms.

Our marketplace of independent consultants specialise in:

  • Brand and marketing
  • Customer experience (CX)
  • Digital and e-commerce
  • Commercial strategy
  • Product development and NPD
  • Business transformation
  • Business change
  • Sustainability
  • Innovation and ideation
Looking for specific business transformation and change support? Our range of consultancy services creates flexible, agile consulting teams bespoke to your business needs.
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