Consulting is big business.
Indeed, there are now 700,000 consulting companies operating around the world. According to the same source, the management consulting industry alone is worth $250 billion.
It’s an excellent time to be a consultant if you love helping businesses and individuals reach their goals! Profit and nonprofit organizations across the globe clearly feel the need to seek expert insight into how to improve their businesses. If they didn't, then there's no way they would spend such sums of money on hiring consultants. It also means that these companies are seeing the return on their investment for this professional advice.
There are many different types of consultants: Strategy, finance, human resources, risk and compliance, marketing, sales, and operations are all common areas that demand a consultation.
Of them all, it's arguable that operational consulting is the most crucial to a business' success. After all, operational processes exist in every department. These processes are the structure by which a business succeeds or fails. The wrong operational processes can quickly cause chaos and disruption within an organization as easily as the right ones can lift a company to incredible success.
So, what is operational consulting? What goes into the process, and how can it be beneficial for business?
What Is Operational Consulting?
Let’s begin with what we mean by this term. To some extent, we’ve already hinted at what’s involved.
At its simplest, operational consulting is the provision of expert advice on any processes within an organization, team, project, or workflow. Operations consultants are often brought on during the aftermath of significant business events (think market fluctuations, managerial alterations, and high employee turnover). However, they can often have the same impact at any point in an organization's history and can even help avoid or prepare for those significant events.
Internal procedures get assessed and adjusted to enhance the overall operations of a business. Crucial organizational components, such as procurement and supply chain management, are looked at and optimized.
Operations consulting is oriented around problem-solving. It's primary objectives involve reducing a business’ costs, increasing its efficiency and effectiveness, and ensuring (or improving) the quality of its products/services.
Depending on the consulting firm, the operational experts often help implement their suggestions.
They don’t stop at merely giving advice. Instead, the consultant will collaborate with a business to bring their expert advice to fruition.
6 Key Business Benefits of Operational Consulting
1. Consultation PLUS Implementation
This is worth emphasizing a second time: Most operational consultants don’t go home after the PowerPoint presentation. They’ve assessed the situation, made their recommendations, then stick around to implement them. Talk about value for money!
Now, the way they help deploy their suggestions does vary. Some consultants will remain a presence as you do the work (passive support). They can offer further advice and insight into how to proceed. However, others will actively participate in the updates.
It’s for you to decide if you’d prefer active or passive support and to find the firm that matches your needs.
Any form of outsourcing has time-saving at its core.
Managers, employees, and business owners may not have the time or inclination to work out the best operational way forwards. Even if they have the right know-how, they may not have the time to think about how to make it happen and then train the team for the adjustment.
That’s where a consultant steps in.
Having a consultant helps restore everyone else’s focus on their primary role. Everyone gets back to work on what they do best, while the consultant sets about improving the overall state of affairs. Sure, it isn’t free (or cheap), but consultation means improvements occur while business continues unimpeded. Those adjustments can have huge impacts, which ultimately result in the benefits outweighing the costs.
Consultation can lead to significant cost-savings in business operations.
Worthwhile reductions go beyond one-time cost-cutting endeavors. Operations consultants will find easy ways to save money (such as with labor and materials) and make the necessary changes. However, these won’t solve significant financial problems.
It’s the consultant's job to go one step further to figure out how to save money long-term. How they do it will depend on your specific situation. However, you can guarantee it will be at the forefront of their mind.
Additionally, consultants save you money in a variety of other ways. There’s no need to hire a new staff member to do the work. As such, there are no HR costs, training costs, salary, or tax considerations for the business. Instead, you pay only for the support you receive. Indeed, cost-reductions are a factor in 87% of outsourcing decisions in the business and IT sectors.
4. Swifter Product Development Cycle
Businesses are built upon their products and/or services.
Frequently, an operational consultant will work to shorten the time it takes to get it to market. Development processes will be analyzed, tweaked, fine-tuned, or completely overhauled. These improvements will speed up the development cycle, meaning more money made at a faster rate. Adjustments are made to reduce lead-times and respond quickly to marketplace changes too.
5. Expert Advice
Consultants are experts in what they do. At least they should be!
They’ve likely been there, done it and got the t-shirt a hundred times. The benefit of that experience is that they can walk into a business and address the issues without breaking a sweat. You know that you’re in good hands.
Consultants can draw on their expertise to offer solutions to longstanding problems. Their insight and perspective will highlight the weaknesses in your systems. Their knowledge should help rectify or at least improve the situation.
6. Greater Efficiency
Efficiency is simply doing things the right way. Inefficiency can cost your business 20 to 30% of its revenue every year.
A consultant will stay on top of things to ensure your organization's efficiency. They’ll monitor and assess and make suggestions to improve your operational efficiency in a variety of ways.
Likewise, their input frees up the workload of other employees. Everyone can now focus on their actual task. Each element of a business becomes more efficient as a result.
Bring an Operations Consultant on Board
There you have it: what operational consulting is and how it is advantageous to a business.
More and more businesses around the world are employing consultants to improve their services. They’ve seen the light! Outsourcing to an expert in the industry simply promises (and delivers) a number of significant advantages.
The same is true of operational consultants. These individuals are hired to support the very lifeblood of a business: its operations. Using their insight and experience, they analyze current systems and then work hard to implement the changes that will have the most significant impact.
No matter where your organization is at, whether it's just starting or already an international Goliath, there's always something to gain from bringing an operations consultant on board!