The management of a consulting project calls on a variety of skills. This is an actuality that has been stressed throughout the course lectures, seminars and cases as well as throughout the course literature. The fact that consultants must integrate their skills when conducting a consulting project is as clear-cut as it is evident.
But if no skill can be used in isolation from the others, is there such a thing as a most important competence of a successful management consultant?
In order to find an answer to the question stated above, this term paper will draw on the content of course 611 Management Consulting, including lessons learnt from company visits and guest lectures. I will start off by listing the three primary competences characterizing a thriving and successful management consultant. Thereafter I will deliberate on which one of these three competences I believe can be regarded as the most important competence. I will close the discussion with a brief conclusion, summing up my main standpoints.
AN OVERVIEW OF THE CONSULTANT’S FUNDAMENTAL COMPETENCES
Wickham & Wickham identifies three types of skill that effective management consulting is based on: analysis skills that enable new opportunities and possibilities to be identified on behalf of the client organization, project management skills that enable those ideas to be delivered to the client organization under budget and time constraints, and relationship-building skills that sell ideas and provide the leadership that takes the client team forward.
I believe this classification to be exhaustively complete, and the skills mentioned in Armbrüster and on seminars and company visits to all be feasibly subsumed under these three categories of skills.
The ultimate purpose of a consulting exercise is to create value for the client business. In order to do so, it is necessary to gain an understanding of the business and the possibilities and opportunities it faces. This demands for a thorough analysis of the client business involving taking information about its situation and processing that information so that effective decisions can be made. CapGemini Consulting emphasized the importance of having a logical analysis as the formal approach to solving problems and the importance of having a hypothesis driven approach in order to reach the end goal in an efficient manner.
The importance of analysis skills is thus apparent, especially when reflecting upon the skills used in solving each one of the four cases; we always began with identifying available and needed information and thereafter proceeded with processing and drawing meaning out of that information. The first case presented by CapGemini Consulting was particularly focused on making use of this kind of analytical approach.
PROJECT MANAGEMENT SKILLS
It can be concluded that by managing the analytical skills, good and well-grounded business ideas can be created. However, the business ideas created must also be achievable in practice. This is done by managing the consulting exercise as a formal project, i.e. defining clear objectives and outcomes, sequencing and prioritizing tasks, and developing formal plans and realistic budgets.
Case four is the most prominent encounter we have had with this type of skill. Composing a project proposal calls for a complete understanding of the elements constituting a consulting exercise. In order to be successful, a project proposal must include a clear step-by-step approach on how the consulting firm will reach a concrete recommendation for the client business.
In addition to the analytical skills and the project-management skills, an effective consultant must have the ability to communicate ideas and positively influence others, i.e. have relationship-building skills. The business ideas will be of little value if people in the client business do not go along with them....
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