What Do Strategic Planning Consultants Do?

Wanda Marie Thibodeaux
Wanda Marie Thibodeaux
Strategic planning consultants examine a company's objectives by speaking with managers and employees.
Strategic planning consultants examine a company's objectives by speaking with managers and employees.

Strategic planning consultants analyze the strengths and weaknesses of a business to help the company develop new or improved operational and financial plans for optimal profit. Their services are part of a larger, overall strategic management approach. The work of these professionals requires exceptional research skills, as well as the ability to see the business through many different lenses based on the company goals. If the consultant does his job properly, the company becomes more competitive.

To develop appropriate strategies for a business, strategic planning consultants first conduct very basic audits of the company. They review sales and financial materials, talk with managers and general workers, examine the company's objectives and mission statement, expense reports, inventory, and procedure and policy manuals. This data gives consultants a concept of how the business currently operates and the resources it has.

Another initial duty of strategic planning consultants is to conduct market research. For instance, they might look at the advertising, location, environmental effects, stock value and customer reviews for competitors to figure out what those companies are doing well and whether the client company is meeting industry benchmarks and regulations. A key element during this step is that consultants always gather their competitor information openly and honestly. They do not use any unethical or illegal methods of data acquisition, such as computer hacking.

Based on the audit and market research results, consultants identify the risks and advantages the company has, pinning down the source of problems, learning what has worked in the past and honing in on specific opportunities. They make some judgments about market trends as well, as any strategies developed have to take into account what customers are going to want or need in the immediate or distant future. At this point, the strategic planning consultants brainstorm to develop several strategies that would both minimize threats and increase revenue.

During this initial planning stage, consultants produce as much detail as possible in order to pitch the various strategies to management, which usually happens in formal meetings. Working with managers, they discuss each strategy in depth to determine which one would work best given the current situation. Once the managers and consultants agree on what strategy to use, the consultants go back to work drafting a more detailed version of the selected strategy, including a cost-benefit analysis. This is a collaborative process with the managers because they help the consultants understand the business to a greater degree, and the consultants help managers step outside their comfort zone to see the company in new ways.

Lastly, strategic planning consultants help the company implement the new strategy. This can be a lengthy process, because new strategies often require changes in the workforce, policies and technologies. Communication is critical for making this step efficient. It is part of the consultants' job to keep the company on schedule during implementation and to conduct follow-up audits to check implementation progress.

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    • Strategic planning consultants examine a company's objectives by speaking with managers and employees.
      By: Rido
      Strategic planning consultants examine a company's objectives by speaking with managers and employees.