A consulting firm is a business that offers specialized expertise to its clients, which may be businesses or individuals. Different firms offer different types of advice, and although there are many types of firms, some of the most popular focus on information technology (IT) and management. Other types consult about include environmental issues and human resources.
Each business consulting firm operates in a different manner. Firms may offer consultants who concentrate on a specific project or those who help train and implement changes to a staff to accomplish specific goals. Project-oriented firms typically specialize in a single business function, such as supply chain or customer relationship management (CRM). These firms analyze their clients’ needs and manage development, implementation and training until it is completed.
A firm that concentrates on staff augmentation begins its service after a client’s business has been analyzed and projects have been outlined and budgeted. Staff augmentation firms offer very specific resources, methodologies and training, and their job is also complete upon implementation.
In some cases, a business may need to hire multiple consultants for different areas which need improvement. For example, a large company may contact a management consultant to help it increase production. After a company analysis, the individual might recommend implementing new computer hardware and software. If the business does not have the knowledge or capability to implement the new technology, it hires an IT consultant to complete the project.
Individual consulting firms offer assistance on things such as political campaigns, weddings and fashion. These types of firms offer the same kind of specialized service, but it is more tailored to the individual. A political consultant, for example, might help formulate a game plan to get his client elected to office. The consultant may perform market research, evaluate voting trends and help with speech writing. Wedding consultants plan a wedding for a couple, which can include everything from helping a bride pick out her dress to making honeymoon travel arrangements.
Both business and individual consultants typically have been formally trained in their area of expertise. Some areas may only require a few classes or only a couple years of schooling, while others require advanced college degrees that may take many years to complete. Additionally, the best consultants will typically have many years of work experience in their field with a proven track record of success.