In countries with developed business cultures, the invitation of professional consultants indicates that the firm has a sufficient business culture to use the intellectual capital the market offers in management.
No serious economic and managerial decision in countries with a developed and developing market economy is possible without using individuals and, more often, consultants united in consulting firms.
Consulting services on a commercial basis are also provided by state educational, information, and research organizations: universities, academies, research institutes, information centers, etc.
Consulting as an entrepreneurial segment covers all combined services in more than 200 industry and functional areas. The main areas of consulting:
personnel consulting (HR consulting);
technology consulting (IT consulting);
Many consulting firms specialize in relatively narrow but essential issues - risk management, "social mechanics" (organizational change management, development of coaching skills, strategy development, etc.), process analysis, technology implementation, systems analytics, or improvement services. activities, etc.
As a result of their contact with numerous organizations, consulting firms tend to be aware of the "best practices" of the industry. However, the specific nature of the situations under consideration may limit the possibility of automatic transfer of such practice.
Consultants are persons who professionally provide management consulting services. Many consultants work in large and medium-sized consulting firms, although they account for only 15% of their total number. But most of the active consultants operate as individual entrepreneurs (freelancers). Management consultants often have their proprietary methodologies or methodologies for identifying problems, which serve as the basis for recommending better or more efficient ways to accomplish work tasks.
A management consultant is a professional consultant who specializes in advising organizations to improve their performance and, as a result, profitability.
Consultants come into the organization utterly unrelated to it, and therefore free from the influence of its internal politics or personal relationships, and analyze how things are done. Management consulting is a special kind of professional activity aimed at providing services to the heads of organizations in economics and management through independent assistance and advice.
Thus, management consulting is the practice of assisting organizations in the direction of improving their work, mainly through the analysis of existing organizational problems and the development of improvement plans. Organizations may use management consulting services for several reasons, including needing external (and hypothetically objective) advice and access to specialist consultant expertise.
There are several types of consultants:
1) based on attitude to the organization-consumer of consulting services:
internal consultants - specialists in economics and management, employed in the staff of a particular company, often constituting the "headquarters" subsystem of the organization;
external consultants - independent firms or individual consultants providing client services based on a contract.
2) based on activity specialization (the concept of Prof. A.I. Prigogine):
specialists - these include masters in solving some specific management tasks;
generalists - do not strive for an immediate solution to problems. They offer methods to solve them.
3) based on the approach to the task being solved (the concept of Prof. V.D. Shapiro):
process consultants answer the question “how to do it”, help to comprehend the goals already set, and organize activities to achieve them. This is advice on how to achieve the goal;
expert consultants answer the question "What to do?" and are, as a rule, professionals in any subject area of activity and reproduce this activity within the framework of the client's company;
training consultants - usually university professors with a managerial profile or people from the system of retraining of personnel, advanced training;
conceptualists (they are closest in their capabilities to the "generalists").
Many companies hire consultants for guidance, process support, tools and solutions, and strategic advice. One of the most important reasons clients use consultants is the momentum they generate.
It can be extremely difficult to keep going on complex projects where many of the client's key employees will struggle. Consulting firms can provide a team of professional and motivated individuals who can bring the commitment and energy needed to carry out design work to a company.
The project management consultant must be able to generate value for clients. That is why consultants are brought into the project to give meaning to the problem or the participation. Developing relationships with clients, the team, and any third parties is equally important.
This means that the consultant must have answers to any questions during the implementation of the project, and he must be able to make any decisions.
Problem-solving. Any project creates problems; a valuable consultant can provide practical solutions.
Illumination of the main issues. It is essential to place the problem in context, whether it is a historical precedent or a current issue affecting the project's progress.
Promoting creativity. The consultant proposes solutions and helps the project team work creatively to create solutions.
Discussion questions. Nobody has all the answers; an intelligent consultant can understand what lies beyond his experience and qualifications and is not afraid to ask questions.
Definition of project parameters. The consultant must provide solutions for selecting optimal action models as information is collected.
Solution generation. The consultant must have sufficient competencies to make the only right decisions.
Recommendations for the choice of tools. Project management consultants often recommend new software solutions to support their recommended project management processes and practices.
The role of the consultant in the project is as follows:
exercising accountability. The consultant in the project provides guidance, which means that he takes responsibility for the decisions made and does not shift responsibility.
ensuring the reliability of the project. The consultant cannot ensure the project's progress if it does not inspire confidence. Therefore, responsibility, diligence, and transparency are essential.
flexibility and ingenuity. Every project has its limitations, but the consultant needs to be creative and fresh-thinking to meet the challenges of the project.
Following actions. It is necessary not only to give orders but also to manage the process of project implementation, which means monitoring and observing problems that arise.
adjustment. If there are problems during the project, the consultant is responsible for discovering or discussing them and solving them.
There are five requirements for a consultant to work on a project:
skills: a consultant cannot manage a project if he does not fully possess information about the industry and the subject of the project activity;
experience. Skills alone are not the solution. To provide real value to clients, you need to have 5-10 years of experience in management and project consulting;
expertise. If the consultant can show that he can handle the client's situation, he can be an essential resource.
education. Updating professional knowledge can strengthen the position of a consultant;
certification. If a consultant has a certificate in project management, this means that there is an independent third party that tests his professional skills.
Code of Ethics for a Project Management Consultant
prescribes the following duties and responsibilities of a project management consultant:
1) general responsibilities:
act by the laws of the country in which the project is carried out;
ensure knowledge and understanding of relevant legislation, norms, and standards, and compliance with these requirements.
2) obligations towards the client:
act in the interests of the client - following what was stated and implied;
be honest in all interactions with the client and other interested parties;
perform all tasks as efficiently as possible;
respect the confidentiality of any information that will be obtained during the execution of the task;
Do not use the information obtained during the task performance for their own commercial or political interests if this will or may hurt the client. This rule must be observed before, during, and after the task;
inform the client about any problems (and offer options for solving them);
take responsibility for your actions;
be sufficiently competent, technical, attentive, and diligent in their actions.
3) obligations towards society:
respect the dignity and moral rights of all stakeholders;
respect intellectual property rights;
pay close attention to health, safety, and environmental issues.
4) professional obligations of the consultant:
not to take on those tasks for which he does not, in his opinion, have sufficient qualifications;
maintain their knowledge in project management and PM consulting through continuing professional development;
call attention to any suspected violations of this code by correcting such behavior or reporting it to the responsible person or authority.
Thus, the consultant plays a critical role in the project. The role of a consultant requires special, highly specialized skills, experience, and knowledge. This is facilitated by training and, in some cases, professional certification programs. In particular, the Harvard Business Review notes that as knowledge is democratized and information becomes more accessible, the role of project management consultants is rapidly changing.
Moreover, with the advent of more online platforms that connect business leaders with their respective consultants, the traditional role of the consulting firm is being challenged, with priority being given to the consultant directly involved in the project.