A business consulting emerged as a way for people who have gone through certain experience to advise managers or entrepreneurs who were facing the same problems, difficulties or similar moment.
In this article we will talk about:
- Step 1 - Understanding the Business
- 2 Step - Choosing Focus
- 3 Step - What to do in each area
- Step 4 - Prioritization
- Step 5 - Putting the plans into action
- All the tools a consultant might want
Although there are several approaches, I believe there are 5 essential steps for a complete business consulting:
- Step 1 - Understanding the Business
- Step 2 - Focus choice
- Step 3 - What to do in each Area (Improvement Plans)
- Step 4 - Prioritization
- Step 5 - Putting the Plans into Action
For each of these steps there may be a series of management tools which can be applied to a better result and will tell you more about them throughout this article.
If you are going to start a complete business consulting, you need to understand the business of your client as a whole. There is not much magic for this, it is necessary to head into the organization and evaluate each area of it. There are some tools that do this job extremely well:
I think business diagnosis always as the first step of any consultancy. It's no use thinking you can propose changes without fully understanding what you are dealing with. I say this, mainly because each business has its characteristics and, most of the time, they are in different moments, with different needs.
The result of a diagnostic worksheet can vary, but essentially it needs to show you the level of maturity of the company and which are the areas that need more attention.
A SWOT analysis has a function quite similar to the diagnosis, the difference is in the approach. While the second examines areas of the company, the first will make an assessment of internal factors (strengths and weaknesses) and external factors (opportunities and threats) in order to provide a picture of the company's situation.
I believe that SWOT Analysis Worksheet has a fundamental role of direction and understanding for the next steps. As a business consultant, your goal is to make sure that you have stepped out of the first step well aligned with your customers in relation to what most bothers them in the day to day running of the company.
With the results of SWOT analysis and analysis you will have enough information to know exactly where to start your consultancy. Typically, the most important areas are these:
- Human Resources
Obviously there are other starting points of a business consulting, in addition to more specific projects, but none so important and that impact both the results and these 4, so, throughout the 3 step, I will show what would be the most important activities for each one their.
I believe that each area has an essential tool that will help you consolidate your business consulting and show your client both the reality that is happening in a very objective way, but also enables a clear follow-up of improvements in results.
Typically, 8 among 10 managers or entrepreneurs seeking a business consultancy have financial problems, either for lack of control of cash flow, little control of working capital (accounts payable and receivable) or even because they do not have significant specific reports.
The best tool to have all these answers is to complete financial control sheet, since it is simple to do cost center analysis, banks, customers and suppliers.
As a consultant, having these answers can take your business consulting to another level, since you can give advice as a change of focus in a cost center to another, to warn about a customer's dependence or even to show cash requirement in the short term.
In addition to this worksheet, I balance point calculation the second most important tool for good financial advice. It is with it that you can tell objectively how much of the products or services that need to be sold in order not to lose.
To balance point worksheet it is possible to arrive at insights as a sales price poorly attributed to a product or service, mark up analysis or even understanding of margin of individual contribution of products or services.
If the finance area is the most important for companies that are unstructured or are suffering losses, the sales area is responsible for most of the demand for business consulting for companies that have positive results but want to increase their bottom line.
With a sales control worksheet it is possible to understand, month by month, the actual value sold, the target that had been established and whether the result is being achieved or not.
With these data in hand, it is possible to analyze more deeply whether the problem is in attracting new customers, in a possible seasonality from one month to another or even in the success rate of negotiations.
If the biggest problem for the company in which you are consulting is in the area of human resources, some care is needed to identify exactly what you propose. Analyze the following data:
- Organizational weather research
- Number of layoffs and monthly admissions
- Performance evaluation (preferably competencies)
- Organizational structure
- Plan for jobs and wages
Some of these data can be consolidated into one human resources indicators sheet and can show you exactly where to go:
For example, if your turnover rate is very high, labor costs may be high and the focus of your business consulting should be this. On the other hand, there may be complaints related to overtime or lack of focus on training in a climate survey and even a poor indicator of poor performance due to management failures in assessing this aspect.
To close, the last major area that is very common to require the expertise of a consultant is the business strategy. This is because while having a well-organized structure, sometimes lack focus on results, goals and more important goals.
In such cases, I recommend strategic planning worksheet, which allows you to create strategies together with your clients, allocate which are the most important, follow the planned goals and the result achieved for each one of them:
Regardless of the area chosen and the strategies outlined, there will be a number of possibilities for what to do. It is during these hours that an experienced consultant carries out a prioritization with the GUT matrix (severity, urgency and trend).
That way, you will be able to see a ranking of what needs to be done first according to the established criteria.
Lastly, the last step is more practice oriented and some consultants end up not doing it. Everything will depend on what is agreed upon in the contract with your client. Usually this work of monitoring and accomplishing the strategies outlined is called advisory.
I really like this moment, because I think it is precisely here that many managers end up not following what was suggested by the business consultancy. In this sense, there are two other tools that I like to indicate and that help a lot in this process:
O PDCA cycle is known throughout the world as a quality tool, but the truth is that it is essential for executing strategies, precisely by relying on a cycle of 4 steps that will tell you in the end whether you are doing that activity well enough or need to start over.
Check also the PDCA cycle sheet.
Together with the PDCA cycle, I control of action plans with the methodology 5W2H, which exactly delimits for each action these 7 items:
- or that
- as well as in
Organize the plans in the 5W2H action plan control worksheet.
In this way, you have 10 essential tools to do a complete business consulting and that will actually help your client, both for ideas and suggestions brought to him, and for the tooling that he can use after you are no longer on his side to assist in decision making.
In this article I have separated the 10 best and most important tools (in my opinion), but the truth is that in the day to day challenge of a consultant there may be several other demands. With that in mind, I suggest you take a look at our toolkit for consultants.