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What can a good Business Management Consultant do for my business?

By Richard Gadd

The purpose of this Article is to enable business leaders to briefly explore some of the myths associated with Business Management Consultancy and to propose a low-cost alternative in order to enable them to achieve their growth potential.

False Perceptions 

  • I can’t afford either the cost of hiring a Business Management Consultant (BMC) or the time to train one of my own staff to undertake the role 
  • It’s my business, and no one is going to tell me how to run it. Besides which, no one can possibly know more about my business than me 
  • To appoint a BMC in my business is tantamount to me admitting defeat and that I’m no longer coping 
  • When I thing about professional Management Consultants, I think about KPMG, McKinsey, PwC, Deloitte, Accenture, etc, and I’m not in their ‘league’. Infact, I’m not entirely convinced how I could ever establish a potentially enduring professional relationship with a national organisation I don’t necessarily know, like, or trust 
  • If I want confidential advice, I’ll ask “my mate Gordon” (Graham Fellows, 1978

What is Business Management Consultancy 

  • Every time you give advice to someone who is faced with a choice, you are consulting 
  • A consultant is a person able to have influence over an individual, group, or organisation, but has no direct power to implement change. Typical consulting outcomes include value added, improved performance, and/or efficiencies 
  • Recipients of this advice are called “clients” 
  • The goal of any consulting intervention is typically to recommend change
  • The best consultants have 3 skill sets; technical skills, interpersonal skills (know, like, trust, and respect), and consulting skills 
  • Core personal consultancy attributes include listening skills, analytical skills, communication skills, and a willingness to learn 
  • BMC is most definitely not about the imposition of changes upon your business without your consent 

Common Types of Business Management Consultancy 

  • Strategic planning 
  • Marketing 
  • Operations 
  • Financial and Management Control 
  • HRM 
  • Information and Communications Technology 
  • Environmental Management 
  • Quality Management 
  • Programme and Project Management 

What are the Potential Benefits of Business Management Consulting 

  • Improve Return on Investment (ROI) 
  • Increase profits and/or competitive performance 
  • Scope potential diversification, mergers and acquisitions 
  • Improve Business Marketing 
  • Improve Business Operations, including customer service and retention 
  • Improve Business Resource Management, including increased staff retention, learning and development 
  • Elimination of waste and duplication. 
  • Cost savings 
  • Business Audit 

How and Where do I Access a Business Management Consultant 

In the event that a Business Leader should decide to employ an external BMC, they are advised to take great care when making their selection. For example, a cursory ‘Google Search' of “Business Management Consultants in North Yorkshire” provides 2.35M ‘hits’, an unmanageable quantity for most of us. 

One way of reducing the ‘risk’ of selecting the wrong BMC for your business is to consider using only Certified Management Consultants (CMCs), who are governed by a Code of Professional and Ethical Conduct, are fully qualified, and risk being ‘struck off’ if they fail to deliver. CMCs are generally regarded as the Industry Benchmark Standard, and may be sourced from multiple outlets, primarily: 

Other considerations apply in much the same way as they do for acquiring any other service or product, and include the following: 

  • Experience. The less experience a BMC has, the higher the degree of risk to your business. Generally, five years is considered a minimum 
  • Testimonials. Has the BMC got any verifiable testimonials or recommendations written by someone other than their mother! Consider Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Professional sites, such as the Institute of Consulting
  • Location/Availability. Some consulting tasks irregularly require a BMC to ‘work on site’, under your supervision and direction. Even if working remotely, it is often worth being able to conduct periodic face to face meetings with the BMC in order to review progress, costs, obstacles, and scheduling. A BMC located more than one hour’s drive away may be considered inaccessible 
  • Mobile connectivity. Most SME Business Owners consider themselves ‘at work’ 365/24/7. It might therefore prove to be disadvantageous by employing a BMC who works just four days a week, and is contactable ‘outside normal working hours’ by email only

What Does Good Business Management Consultancy Look Like 

There is inevitably a degree of subjectivity involved in selected a BMC that best fits your business. For example, some business owners might prefer to only work with consultants of a certain age, gender, educational background, level of experience, cultural background, geographic location, etc. None of these choices are necessarily wrong, but what may consider critical is as follows: 

  • Will the BMC deliver what I’m paying them to deliver?
  • Is there the potential for a mutually respectful, transparent, and potentially enduring professional relationship? 
  • If circumstances change, do I have the right to terminate our business relationship? 
  • Can I contact the BMC 24/7 in the event of an emergency? 
  • Does the BMC comply with a Professional Code of Practice? If not, why not? 

Some business owners may elect to assign an ‘internal BMC’, in which case there are additional factors to consider as illustrated below: 

 internal infinite, no time constraints vs external invariably restricted by cost. Other factors to consider include governance, accountability and situational awareness.

Might ‘Intervision’ (Bellersen. M, 2023) be a Viable Cost-Effective Alternative 

  • Cost-effective consultancy tool 
  • Business Owner ‘provides’ the problem for their nominated team members to ask questions, and encourage the ‘Case Provider’ to think up their own answers 
  • Business Consultant frames and controls discussion 
  • ‘Case Provider’ summarises discussion and outlines new plan 
  • Inexpensive alternative to ‘Group Think’ that maximises Group ‘buy in’ and ownership, thereby heightening levels of commitment and intrinsic motivation

A circular diagram in which each of the following points lead to the next. 1. We need to improve 2. Outline the situation 3. Group discussion 4. Formulation of plan 5. Periodic review. Point 5 eventually points back to point 1 and the process begins again.

August 2023

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