Strategy consulting analyzes a company's strong and weak areas, unexploited opportunities, and identifies both external and internal threats. The strategy consultant recommends a course of action to address areas of opportunity and risk and can have a potentially enormous effect on a company's profitability. Companies may be most successful in hiring a consultant who represents a good match between consultant and company.
A prospective consultant's expertise should be thoroughly examined to be certain he or she is highly proficient in the area of business that best matches that of the company. Strategic planning for a manufacturing firm will vary greatly from that of a retail clothing chain, for example. It is important to find a strategy consulting firm that understands the client's specific industry sector. At the same time, a consultant whose expertise spans multiple industries will likely offer a wider range of strategic business solutions.
Ask the strategy consulting firm for previous cases studies. These studies should include before and after statistical evidence of the effectiveness of the strategy that was recommended. If a strategy consulting firm has professional affiliations, this is an excellent way to vet the provider. Asking for references and checking those references is advisable.
Confidentiality is critical when a company is exploring potential business strategies. An unsavory operator may seek to exploit a company's proprietary information by appearing to be a strategy consultant. In industrial intelligence, also known as economic espionage, competitors seek to gain advantage by deceptively gaining access to a company's proprietary and strategic information. Obtaining references from prospective strategy consultant firms is a way to avoid this problem.
Siloing can often be an obstacle to successful strategy consulting. Simply put, this is a metaphorical way of explaining how managers impede information flow. Hierarchical corporate structure is compared to a silo. Managers may seek power through impeding the flow of information up and down that silo, possibly sabotaging the efforts of strategy consulting.
Preparing managers and employees ahead of time can be essential. A briefing of what to expect during the strategy consulting process will help those employees facilitate information sharing with the consultant. Selecting a few line workers to be involved in the information gathering process will assist the consultant in pinpointing dysfunctional areas in the firm's operations or marketing.
The process of developing a business strategy will be greatly enhanced by preparing company staff ahead of time. Assembling pertinent documents such as a vision statement, and the company's marketing plan, along with relevant statistics will facilitate the process. Such planning ahead may reduce billable hours needed to complete the work.