What is the role of a strategy consultant? Is it actually possible that in a short amount of time an outsider person can help your business solve key problems? Shouldn’t your insider colleagues know the solutions better?
These questions might come up when somebody suggests you hire an outside consultant to help your business, especially because some consultants do not participate or give support in the operational phase of a project, leaving your team confused and overwhelmed.
In this article, we will discuss when can a strategy consultant be actually valuable for your business and deliver the return on investment you wish for.
The strategy consulting market
There are a lot of complex problems, companies are facing nowadays, so strategy consulting is a highly relevant market. Big accountant firms (the Big Four), small specialist businesses and traditional consulting firms also compete against each other in the market. What is more, agencies are also trying to broaden their knowledge and acquire more market share by hiring new specialists or merging with other companies.
Consulting firms are also trying to help clients with implementation processes, moreover, they also are trying to acquire digital skills, like digital analytics and digital marketing in the past 5-6 years.
What problems can a strategy consultant solve for you
A truly valuable consulting session can put you ahead of the competition. Consultants are excellent problem-solvers, what is more, they solve your problems in a structured manner. With Pattern’s more than 10 years experience in the strategy consulting business, we identified 3 main areas firms need outside help from consultants:
- Lack of inside experience
- Lack of time
- Lack of outsider feedback
1.Lack of experience from the customer’s side
Companies often find themselves facing a strategic challenge, which they haven’t dealt with before. In this case, an outsider consultant who has experienced such problems before can be a huge help and guidance for the project. Examples can be introducing a new product in the market, organizational changes or digital transformation projects. These kinds of tasks can be risky to do only with internal resources. Involving a consultant who has faced these problems before can give a sense of security and lower the risk of failing the project.
Make sure to check if the advisor has actual experience in the particular project. Some firms sell their senior consultants; however, only their junior consultants do work on the project. This is not always a problem, but resources have to be mixed and senior consultants with the appropriate experience should have the final say.
We at Pattern work with a hypothesis in the beginning and we always test and optimize the hypothesis on the way. To come up with a hypothesis, we map the customer’s capabilities, internal processes, and exact needs. The more data the better. There are cases when market research is needed along with the internal data.
2. Lack of time
A former colleague of mine said that the difference between a strategy consultant and a client is that out of ten possible solutions, the client only considers 5, while the consultant will examine all the possible solutions. Thus, consultants do a profound work and they do not sleep on projects.
If a firm has the internal resources for a project, but they do not have the time for it, a strategy consultant can be a good solution. Consulting businesses make a product out of their services and they can exactly measure the time they need to deliver the results.
Pattern always pays extra attention to involve operational level colleagues and specialists in the project to build trust right from the beginning.
3. Lack of objectivity
There are 2 cases for this scenario. The first one is not the most ideal: if a C-level executive has a strong opinion about a project, he/she could involve an outsider second-opinion to validate his/her point of view. In this case, the hypothesis of the project will not be flexible.
The other option is when there is a coherent insider perspective for a problem, and it needs to be validated from an outsider source. These are usually enjoyable and really interesting projects because there are experienced specialists involved in the client-side, also. However, the team chemistry needs to be working to have the desired results.
To conclude, we at Pattern always start with a hypothesis and with gathering and constantly processing insider and outsider data, we form our final solution. When we have our winner solution, we do an ROI calculation to support the decision process. This number depends on some factors, for example, the quality of the internal data and the newness of the concept.
After these initial steps, we can move to the process of elaborating on the solutions and run tests. Here, we also insert design elements in the process.
Overall, we like to work with a lot of data and use creative elements in our strategy consulting projects. If you have a complex problem that you would want help with, send us a message.