The consulting industry is one of the most diverse markets within the professional service industry, and as such, the industry encompasses a wide variety of types of consultants. In addition, the job of “consultant” is not a protected professional title like most other professions, and as such anyone can call themselves a strategy, management, economic, financial, HR or IT consultant. In view of the wide range of possible uses of a consultant and the variety of jobs available to a consultant, the number of self-employed consultants has increased significantly in recent years. After the influx into the industry, a common definition of the term “consultant” has become more difficult.
In the last few decades, industry-specific associations and analysts have developed different definitions to categorize the different types of consultants who are active in this area. Consultancy.uk follows the approach of Kennedy Information, an American research agency that has been analyzing the consulting market since the 1960s (further information can be found on the website of the Consultancy Branch). The methodology of their approach is based on six core types of consultants in the consulting industry:
The term strategy consultant is used to describe consultants who operate at the highest level of the consulting market, with a focus on strategic issues such as corporate and organizational strategy, economic policy, government policy and functional strategy. Because of this, strategy consultants typically perform tasks from top managers such as CxOs, directors, and senior managers. Since the type of strategy consulting differs from the other more implementation and operationally oriented areas, strategy consultants generally have a different profile than their colleagues. Her focus is more on quantitative / analytical skills and her job description is more about consulting than overseeing implementation.
Management consultants, also called management consultants or organizational consultants in practice, are consultants who focus on all possible organizational issues from strategy to various elements of management. In the methodology of Kennedy and Consultancy.uk, management consulting is a collective term for all services that fall under strategy consulting, operations consulting and HR consulting. For this reason, business consultants make up the vast majority in the consulting industry – more than half of all consultants can be defined as business consultants.
Operations Consultants are consultants who help clients improve the performance of their operations. The consulting activities in this segment range from consulting services to practical implementation support, both for primary functions (e.g. sales, marketing, production, etc.) and for secondary functions (e.g. finance, personnel, supply chain, ICT , Law, etc.). Operations Consultants are the largest segment within the consulting industry, and the majority of consultants work in one of the many underlying operational areas. Since operations is often associated with the strategy and technology side of a company, active operations consultants regularly work side by side with experts in these areas.
Consultants who work in the Financial Advisory segment typically work on issues related to financial skills and, in many cases, analytical skills within an organization. As a result, the profiles of the advisors working in these segments can vary greatly, from M&A and corporate finance advisors to risk management, tax, restructuring or real estate advisors. Consultants who specialize in forensic research and dispute resolution also fall into the Financial Advisory segment. The majority of financial advisors work for the large combined auditing and consulting firms or for niche consulting firms.
Recruiters help clients with human capital issues within their organizations and / or in improving the performance of the HR department. Central topics in the job description of personnel consultants include organizational changes, change management, employment conditions, learning & development, talent management and retirement. Personnel consultants are also used by organizations to change the corporate culture within their organization or to transform their HR department, which includes changes in the area of organizational design, processes and systems, among other things. Personnel consulting, together with strategy consulting, forms the two smallest segments of the consulting industry and the number of consultants working in this area is therefore lower than in other industries.
Technology consultants, also known as IT, ICT or digital consultants, focus on helping clients develop and apply information technology (IT) in their business. IT consultants concentrate on transitions (projects) in the ICT landscape, in contrast to regular IT employees who work in daily IT operations (so-called ‘business as usual’ activities). The majority of ICT consultants work on implementation projects, for example on extensive ERP system applications, where their tasks can range from project management to process management to system integration. Within IT consulting, the fastest growing markets are digital, data analytics (also known as data science), cyber security and IT forensics.