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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.

business transformation consultant

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.

strategic management consultant

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.