What is Strategy Consulting?

strategy consulting

What are we talking about in this article?

In 2018, the global strategy consulting market was worth approximately 30.90 billion USD, according to a report by Market Research Future. The report, Global Strategy Consulting Market information by Services, by Organization Size, by Industry Vertical and Region – forecast to 2027, also said the market was expected to be valued at 43.98 billion by 2025.

Huge names like Boston Consulting Group (BCG), McKinsey & Company, Ernst & Young (EY), Deloitte Consulting LLP, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Accenture, and many others have popularized the field of strategy and management consulting. This important sector helps businesses across fields grow, make sounder decisions, and transform their operations.

This is the outside perspective many companies and organizations need to reinvorgorate their processes and make their businesses more successful and competitive in ever-changing markets.

Project Profitability

What is strategy consulting?

Strategy consulting or strategic consulting is the process of bringing in an outside advisor or firm to help businesses guide them on how to better achieve their goals. Businesses leaders will work with strategy consultants to develop and execute plans for bridgining gaps, overcoming challenges, and finding opportunities. 

Typically, these professionals advise the company during a set period of time, during which they will get to know the key players in various departments, closely examine processes and procedures, and analyze all aspects of the business or individual department, all toward the end goal of solving problems and helping the organization achieve its objectives. This may involve a complete overhaul of company missions and operations. 

What does a strategy consultant do?

Strategy consultants may work independently or on behalf of consulting firms. These professionals have a depth of knowledge, often specializing in particular sectors or niches. This industry knowledge is critical for understanding the ins and outs of each client they assist.

The field is competitive, with several firms or strategy consultants vying for the same contracts. Those who are at the top of the field will be able to take a holistic view of organizational issues and have a wide breadth of tools and ideas in their arsenal.

Strategy consultants work in both private and public sectors, conducting research, identifying holes, developing solutions, and offering general guidance on implementation and execution.

These professionals operate at a high level and tend not to be involved in the day-to-day goings on at client organizations, except to better understand procedures and operations.

Strategic consultants are usually embedded at their client organizations for a fixed period of time. 

Strategy consulting examples

There are several contexts in which a business might hire a strategy consultant or firm to help them bring their company to the next level.

For example, let’s say a business is undergoing a merger, buy-out, or acquisition. They will bring a strategy consultant in to identify overlapping roles and areas that can be consolidated, as well as provide general guidance as an independent, unbiased third party. 

Or, perhaps a business is attempting to heighten its operations and escalate delivery of services. So, they ask a strategy consultant to come in and find ways to do more in less time. This might include partnerships with outside firms, for instance.

In another example, a business could be floudering and searching for ways to increase their revenue. A strategy consultant can offer suggestions as to how the organization can boost sales while at the same time looking for ways to limit waste.

Time tracking & estimation

Strategy consulting services

Strategy consulting services touch on the following areas:

  • Budgeting and financial decisions
  • Business model transformation
  • Corporate decisions
  • Digital transformation
  • Economic policy
  • Functionality
  • Management
  • Market research
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Operations
  • Opportunities
  • Organizational structure
  • Production

These areas differ in some respects, of course, but each niche seaks to help businesses identify and solve problems and reach their goals. 

Strategy consulting firms

Everyone is aware of the main consulting firms. There are the so-called “Big 3”: Bain, BCG, and McKinsey. Then there are the Big 4, which offer a range of of professional services, including strategy consulting: Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PwC.

There are many other firms specializing in particular areas or offering comprehensive services. Firms work closely with clients to learn about their long-term goals, formulate plans, identify problems and opportunities, create roadmaps for implementation, pinpoint new markets and new products, optimize processes, cut costs, and more.

Why strategy consulting?

Business owners and leaders may well be equipped with the skills to successfully organize and manage a company. An outside perspective, particularly from someone with superior skills and deep industry knowledge, contributes tenfold to strategic planning and overall business strategies. 

For one, while business leaders do oversee business units and companies overall, they are deeper in the trenches and closer to the individual operations. Meanwhile, through corporate strategy consulting, a third party can take a wider view of the company, all while simultaneously focusing on particular issues as they relate to the overall company. 

Plus, because you’re using an outside firm or individual, you’ll be able to get a more objective perspective. There are no personal stakes in the outcome, so the strategy consultant is better equipped to make sound judgements. 

How to get Into strategy consulting

From a professional’s perspective, strategy consulting is a sought-after field. While the work is demanding, it’s very lucrative and considered highly prestigious.

Looking to break into the field? Here’s what to do.

Develop certain skillsets

In 2020, a Statista survey found that nearly half — 43.5% — of consulting companies around the world cited the need for new skills as one of the main business challenges they’re encountering.

Prospective strategy consultants should have skills such as:

  • Analytical skills
  • Collaboration skills
  • Communication skills
  • Critical-thinking skills
  • Flexibility
  • Industry-specific knowledge
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Time management skills

Complete your education

Strategy consultants should have a bachelor’s degree at minimum. Business administration or a related field are the preferred areas of concentration. Many firms, particularly the most competitive ones like the Big 3 and Big 4, will want to see candidates earn an MBA as well. 

Get your foot in the door

It’s a bit of a Catch-22 — you need experience to land a great job, but you can’t gain experience without a job. Many strategy consultants get their start in other business roles, such as that of a business analyst. 

In order to land that first role, you should become extremely familiar with the industry, recognizing the big and small names and understanding the particular roles. 

Project Management

Gain experience

Once you’ve gotten your foot in the door, focus on growing in your role and gaining experience and skills. Take advantage of opportunities to meet successful professionals in the industry, and volunteer to lead projects and complete different assignments.

Look for more opportunities

It’s important to actively search for opportunities, rather than waiting around for your next big role. Strategy constulants are go-getters who are proactive.

How to succeed in consulting

So, once you’ve broken into the field, how do you make yourself the consummate professional? 

Obtaining advanced degrees and certifications will certainly help you move up. These are considered valuable in consulting. It’s also important to find a niche and learn everything you can about that particular field. 

You’ll need to continue to pitch your services and secure contracts, and experience will help. Learning how to market yourself and your skills will come in handy here. 

Keep building and improving your skills, too. It’s a continuous process.

Ultimately, putting in the time and effort is what will set you apart. This is not a field for the ambivalent or those who aren’t willing to do the hard work. At the end of the day, businesses will turn to a strategy consultant with a proven track record and the obvious skills and competence for transforming their organizations.

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