Business/management consultants provide specialist skills, objective advice and expertise to businesses and organisations to assist in improving performance, developing strategies and managing change. Their services deal with issues relating to the structure, management and operation of an organisation, covering business strategy, financial and management control, supply-chain management, performance management, business process re-engineering (BPR), human resources and recruitment (HR) and operations.
The management consultancy sector is centred on approximately 45 firms that are members of the Management Consultancies Association (MCA), the representative body for management consultancy firms in the UK. Their members comprise around 60% of the industry, employing 30,000 consultants and working with 90 of the FTSE 100 companies. These larger MCA member firms often engage smaller consultancy practices and freelance consultants on a subcontracting basis to assist with large projects. Clients engaging management consultants include private sector firms in a wide variety of industries (both in the UK and abroad) ranging from agriculture to transport, and also public sector organisations, local authorities and health care trusts. Consultancy services are also required by private equity venture capital firms, for example to provide 'hands-on' practical expertise and support with mergers and acquisitions. Management consultants are often engaged in an interim management role by organisations that require temporary senior management assistance.
This profile provides information about starting up and operating as a business/management consultant. It describes the skills required, the training available, the current market trends and some of the key trading issues. It also identifies some of the main legislation that must be complied with and provides sources of further information.
What qualifications and skills are required?
While there are no mandatory qualifications required to operate as a business/management consultant, in practice professional qualifications and considerable experience relating to the consultant's specialist field and membership of a professional body are essential.
The Institute of Consulting (IC), the national body representing management consultant professionals, accredits the Certified Management Consultant (CMC) qualification, which is a globally recognised award. The IC requires anyone completing the award to be a member or fellow of the institute with three years' prior experience as a management consultant. The award is completed through a process involving a 'professional discussion', which is a meeting with an assessor, and the qualification is re-certified every three years. Fees start from £645 for online assessments via Skype (www.iconsulting.org.uk/training_and_qualifications/cmc).
The IC also provides Level 5 and Level 7 qualifications in Professional Consulting, including an award, certificate and diploma. The Level 5 diploma includes three mandatory units covering the client relationship, planning and managing consultancy interventions and problem solving tools and techniques.
Qualifications in project management or lean management will enable consultants to offer these services as part of their portfolio: • PRINCE2.com provides PRINCE2 (PRojects IN Controlled Environments) training, which is a process-based method for project management used by Government and public and private sector organisations (www.prince2.com/prince2-cbt.asp). The PRINCE2 foundation level e-learning course costs £340 (excluding VAT).
• The Association for Project Management (APM) provides the APM Practitioner (APMP) Level 7 qualification (www.apm.org.uk/APMP.asp), which covers topics including budget and cost management,...