Consulting and Management Consulting: What’s the Big Difference?

If we’re talking about the consulting industry, then we’re talking about a whopping 2 million jobs in the US alone.

The consulting industry itself, in terms of the highest revenue generation, is simple. It’s made up of scientific, technical, and management consulting services.

Right about now you might be thinking, hang on, a consultant is just a consultant, right? Wrong.

When it comes to consulting and management consulting, there is a definitive difference between the two. Keep reading to find out what those differences are and why they matter.

What Is Consulting?

We’ve all heard that famous line in a movie when someone asks another person what they do for a living, and the person responds with, “I’m a consultant.”

That’s a bit of an open-ended answer, right?

So let’s fathom out what exactly consulting is, otherwise referred to as business consulting. Generally speaking, people will loosely throw around the terms business consulting and management consulting. Treating them as if they are the same thing, let us assure you, that they are not.

Business consulting is entirely to do with the business processes directly. This can mean work within Human Resources, the Financial department, production areas, or even maintenance and IT.

Key Characteristics of Consulting

There are a number of characteristics that can set consulting apart from management consulting. Some of these characteristics may not be very obvious on the surface, but let’s have a look.

  1. Business Consulting usually happens in the earlier phases of a business being started. Alternatively, it’s when the business is planning to extend or grow.
  2. Business Consulting offers a completely unbiased and objective platform to make decisions. They are made purely for the good of the business as well as the appraisal of current systems.
  3. Business consultants are particularly knowledgeable on operational levels of business. They have the technical know-how to make business process changes.
  4. Business consultants will usually work directly with business owners as opposed to senior managers. They can offer a broad overview of what’s going on and what needs to change.

Business consulting is usually at use for a considerable amount of time but never forever. Once the business has gone through the changes it needs to and successfully operated, the need for the consultant is null and void.

What Is Management Consulting?

Management consulting may seem similar to business consulting, and fundamentally it may be. But management consulting can be defined as working on the less quantifiable parts of a business. Management consultants will work on more things like vision, culture, planning for the future, and strategic objectives.

Management consultants, such as Ignite Management Consulting, are often brought in to make strategic changes while keeping core values intact throughout the change process. They can be brought in to help develop strategies at a high level, or perhaps just on a particular project or within a particular part of the business.

Key Characteristics of Management Consulting

Management consulting is fundamentally the same as business consulting, the relationship is never one that lasts forever. Usually for the duration of a project or a business change.

  1. Management consultants will more often than not, play a part in managing risk. They will assist in identifying and managing risk for senior managers.
  2. Management consulting comes with a certain amount of training within the business during the role that needs to be filled. They need a total understanding of how teams work and this helps them to create suitable change plans.
  3. Usually, management consulting happens within larger businesses and corporate companies because they tend to require more complex solutions.

So, What Is Strategic Consulting?

Strategy consulting can be viewed as the third cog in the consulting machine. Another cool name for strategic consulting is boardroom consulting.

Within the consulting industry, this is like the really high-end, couture-level of consulting. Strategic consulting is prestigious, it focuses on the private sector mostly but can also be seen in the public sector with public policy.

Strategic consultants are the strategic advisory unit of consultants. They limit their involvement in the execution phase of the strategies they aid in creating.

The Main Benefits of Consulting Services

So, why do businesses choose to go with consulting services and not hire someone full-time to come in with business process changes? Let’s have a quick look at the benefits of using consulting services.

1. They Provide Information

Consultants are often brought on board to bring information to light that others cannot.

They can use things like feasibility studies, studies of the cost, and analysis of structures. Plus even more, tools to arm the business decision-makers with valuable information.

2. Problem Solving

Consultants are usually tasked with solving difficult problems that others have not been able to tackle.

Management may also be looking for consultants to come in and think outside of the box. They want them to find solutions that are more practical than staff that are too close to the issue.

3. Constructive Diagnosis

Management consultants are usually viewed as valuable because of the way that they can diagnose situations.

An accurate diagnosis can often put a strain on internal staff and client relationships, so consultants have an objective opportunity to diagnose problems.

4. Recommending Appropriate Actions

Sometimes it can be clear as to what should be done but businesses are reluctant to recommend the appropriate changes.

With consultants, their connection to the brand is purely business-related. It makes it easier for them to suggest changes that may be difficult.

Basically, the consultant would make recommendations but the ultimate decision would be made by the business’ management team.

5. Implementing Changes

After all of this, the actual implementation of changes suggested by the consultant is up for debate. Some feel that the consultant should be responsible for implementing the change that they recommend. Others feel that implementing change is up to the business themselves.

It really depends on the agreement that is made. And how far the business wants to reap the benefits of their consulting agreement.

Making Sense of Management Consulting

When it comes to understanding management consulting and everything that comes with it, there are no very clear lines of definition.

It truly is up to the business and the consulting firm to draw up the rules of engagement and what the expectations are.

Head on over to the business section of our blog to find more great content.

Read Also: What It Means to Get a “Green Card”

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