Meaning of Consultancy
In recent years, the business environment has become highly competitive. This change can be attributed to global access to technology and innovations that improve production and service delivery efficiency. Companies are constantly altering their organizational structures and business models to maintain or gain an advantage against similar enterprises in their sector. Therefore, there is a growing need for business consultants that can advise the business on how to achieve their goals effectively. There are many types of consultants and consultancy models that can be implemented by them. A consultant or advisor is a person who either counsels a client on whether an action they want to take is desirable or assists them in planning and implementing an effort (Stroh, 2019). They do so to ensure that their client, either an organization or an individual, achieve their goals.
Types of Consultants
Making an error in the current competitive market can result in the failure of the company. Therefore, executives are hiring professionals in every aspect of the business to avoid such missteps (Stroh, 2019). Consultants can be grouped into six core types: strategy, management, operations, financial advisory, human resource (HR), and IT consultants. These consultants can offer their services across numerous industries, although some concentrate their efforts in one sector, such as banking or manufacturing.
Strategy consultants offer their services to the company’s senior-level management and assist with developing a long-term vision. They usually spend a significant amount of time with the company to identify its strengths and weaknesses (Magnúsdóttir, 2018). The main focus of a strategic consultant is to propose a cost-effective business plan and increase long-term profitability. Similarly, management consultants offer advice on various organizational elements, including strategy, HR, and general operations. In other words, management consultancy is an umbrella term and is highly fluent due to the “fashions of management ideas and techniques” (Elkjaer & Brandi, 2018, p. 85). Management advisors are the most common in the advisory field.
Operations consultants offer advice on many functions and services of the company. According to Poulfelt and Olson (2018), these advisors are concerned with designing operations strategies and increasing the efficiency of the production, delivery, and after-service and service systems. Meanwhile, financial consultants are tasked with advising companies on their economic activities (Vukotic et al., 2017). Most experts in this field are seasoned accountants or work for large accounting consulting firms.
HR consultants provide advisory services on various human capital questions. They may include corporate structure, responsibilities of each role, talent management, terms of employment, and learning and development (Maheshwari et al., 2017). Finally, IT consultants help businesses evaluate and revise their IT systems to meet their objectives (Poulfelt & Olson, 2018). Overall, the variety of different types of consultants illustrates the complexity and competitiveness within the current market.
Furthermore, consultants can be either internal, working with the company full-time, or external, hired by the organization to address a specific issue. Although internal and external consultants work to achieve the same results, there are stark differences between them. For example, internal consultants have the power to veto a decision, while external ones can propose changes but are unable to make decisions on behalf of the client.
The Consultancy Model
When considering the profession, it should be noted that there are many consultancy models available to experienced and aspiring consultants. For example, the Ulrich model was explicitly designed to assess and organize a company’s human resource function (Yusuf et al., 2017). Similarly, other models can be focused on different departments or processes within an organization. However, models can also be formulated to improve the consulting business and improve operational and strategic aspects of the profession.
The following consultancy model was developed for consultants with little experience searching to establish and expand their practice. It focuses on developing and maintaining the client portfolio and includes such areas as the core, the campaign, the service, and the delivery (Burford, 2021). This model can be utilized for learning and development consultancy, among other types, to facilitate better training for the client organizations.
The core solves the who, what, and why of every consulting business. A consultant must determine the foundation and the ideal client, which together form the focus of their practice. A consultant can focus on HR, engineering, accounting, or other areas, highlighting what it offers to its potential clients. Marketing a business or a profession creates awareness and the opportunity to grow. Thus, the campaign section of the discussed model helps a consultant market their services to the public. The interactions between the advisor and their potential clients should be based on trust and efficiency to foster the client’s assurance to engage the consultant (Burford, 2021). Thus, the campaign aims for the consultant to sell their service and the ideal client to buy the expertise.
The service phase of the model involves the actual consulting process and assisting the client to achieve their set business goals. A client will typically engage the services of a consultant because of a perceived or identified struggle with the business (Burford, 2021). The advisor can offer the client systems, methodologies, and flexible packages to meet their unique needs. The next phase, the delivery, is the most crucial in the consultancy model as it concerns the execution of the promise to the client. During this phase, the consultant appraises the client’s problems, offers them several solutions, and helps to implement the most suitable option. The execution should deliver the customer’s expectations as articulated during the engagement process (Burford, 2021). Overall, the described consultancy model concerns the client’s acquisition by the expert and can be implemented by any consultant.
The Consultancy Process
The consultancy process is a complex one and involves several stages vital to the achievement of the business goals set by the client. Ibatovaa et al. (2018) distinguish three main steps in the consultation process: the pre-project stage, the project itself, and the post-project stage. In addition, a preliminary stage taking place before the pre-project step can be recognized. This stage does not involve a consultant as it is defined as a point when the company becomes aware of a problem within the organization and decides to employ a consultant (Ibatovaa et al., 2018). Thus, the consultancy process begins when an enterprise hires an advisor to help them reach their goals.
The pre-project stage is the first step in the consultation process after an advisor was approached. During this phase, the client and the consultant cooperate on defining the business need, clarify expectations of their collaboration, and sign the contract. The project stage is the most complex step of the process. It involves the collection of data in the client’s business and analyzing the information on the defined problem and business opportunity (Ibatovaa et al., 2018). During this stage, the findings are synthesized to generate insights into the company’s strengths and weaknesses and highlight them for the client (180 Degrees Consulting, 2018). These insights are then implemented to develop recommendations and an action plan for the organization to follow to achieve its business goals (180 Degrees Consulting, 2018). The project stage is typically concluded with the introduction of the proposed changes after they are approved by the management of the company.
Finally, the post-project stage is aimed at the evaluation of the implemented solutions. The client and the consultant appraise the executed alterations within the organization in order to determine whether the actual results are comparable with the planned ones (Ibatovaa et al., 2018). Each of the implemented measures is assessed, and additional corrective actions are taken if needed. The stage can be concluded with the report of the performed work generated for the client. Overall, the consultancy process requires advisors to assist in the organization’s transformation by analyzing its strengths and weaknesses, proposing the plan to maximize the former and minimize the latter, and assessing the outcomes.
Learning and Developing Solution Requirements
As a consultant hired to develop a training program to prepare new external moderators by an Access to Higher Education Validating Agency (AVA), I would begin with establishing what is required by the client. Specifically, I would work with AVA to determine the needed outcomes and the issues the client wishes to address. As a learning and development (L&D) consultant, I would pose the following questions:
- What are the characteristics of the participants, and what is their experience in moderation?
- What are the primary issues and tendencies that have arisen in the previous year?
- What new procedures or processes in moderation need to be addressed in the training program?
Overall, these questions and the deliberation on the problems and tendencies in higher education moderation will help establish customer requirements and desired outcomes. In turn, having a deep understanding of the client and trainees’ needs will help develop the L&D solution for the program. For this scenario, the required outcomes can be defined as follows: preparing external moderators for their role in moderation, emphasizing independent double marking procedures and disagreements involving them.
As requested, please kindly find the quotation of the training program developed for moderators on double marking. This quotation includes the major terms and a brief description of the programs and associated services.
|Request||The provision of a training program for moderators.|
|Proposed Solution||To ensure that AVA moderators can display their highest potential, the organization should ensure that the employees have the necessary skills and are trained accordingly.|
|Deliverable||1-day training course|
- One thousand nine hundred and twenty-five U. S. dollars ($1,675)
- including the consultant’s travel expenses ($1,000) and consultant’s fee ($675)
The consultant will travel to all agreed sites to meet with each trainee in person, so every participant will have an individual training session, which implies optimal outcomes. At the same time, the company can consider the possibility of arranging a session for two employees at one venue, so more employees may receive training and improve the quality of provided services. Although the consultant can arrange a venue for a meeting for all the employees on a single day, the expenses are likely to be higher than the estimated fee due to the travel expenses of the participants, as well as the disruption of their daily activities.
100% payment at least a day before the beginning of the training program
Terms and conditions
- The consultant will visit each moderator at the employee’s working place, so AVA workers’ daily routines will be almost undisrupted.
- AVA provides the training venue for the employees, which can be a small office or conference room.
- The materials necessary for the training program, including software and hardware, will be described in the proposal.
- The enclosed proposal includes a detailed description of the program.
Estimated project duration
20 hours (4 hours x 5 days)
Date initiation date
The program will start on the day agreed between AVA and the consultant, and the project will commence after the approval and signature of this quotation and the enclosed proposal.
The project schedule will be agreed upon with AVA and each moderator individually so that minimal disruptions to their daily duties can be caused.
- 7 days
- Please kindly do not hesitate to contact the consultant to arrange the meeting or ask for any details.
- Kind Regards,
The development of staff is one of the premises for the sustainable growth of any organization. AVA declares its commitment to the provision of high-quality assessment that has an impact on the progress of the country’s educational system. Therefore, it is critical to ensure that AVA moderators have the necessary skills to provide these corresponding services. Moderators assess the effectiveness of the course and marking criteria, as well as other aspects. They share their views with providers and try to make sure that courses are properly designed. Moderators have a set of responsibilities that require multiple skills, including but not confined to critical thinking skills, expertise in particular disciplines, communication and conflict management skills, and time management skills, among others. The focus of this program is on a particular task (double-checking) and corresponding skills, but the aspects mentioned above are a part of training as they ensure the proper performance of moderators.
After the completion of the program, the participants will be able to:
- Describe the major aspects of moderation administration;
- Describe the most effective strategies of double-checking;
- Display strong conflict management, communication, and negotiation skills.
After the completion of this training program, the participants will:
- Understand the core processes included in moderation management;
- Have the necessary skills to implement double-checking;
- Have the necessary communication skills to negotiate the results of the marking process;
- Have the necessary skills to resolve conflicts and ensure the development of effective courses consistent with the existing standards and the academic goals outlined in them;
- Have the necessary communication skills to articulate their messages and contribute to the development of the corresponding institutions.
The target audience includes the people who are:
- Current moderators working for AVA (both new and experienced employees).
- Employees who are willing to perform the roles of moderators.
- Employees who want to acquire the mentioned skills and knowledge.
20 hours (4 hours x 5 days)
The program will last for five days, with 4-hour training sessions per employee. The consultant will come to the AVA sites, and individual sessions will be held. In some cases, it is possible to arrange training sessions for several participants (several employees can work at one facility) if they find the offered site and time suitable. In case if two employees participate in the training session, its duration will expand to six hours. This time is sufficient to deliver the material and scaffold the skills mentioned above. The employees will have time to train and discuss the concerns they may have regarding their performance, particular tasks, strategies they employ to conduct double-checking, and so on.
- Employees should work for AVA and be aware of the major principles of moderation management.
- Employees should reflect on the challenges they meet or may meet when conducting double-checking or the managing moderation process prior to the start of the program.
- Employees should reflect on such areas as conflict management.
- Employees should be prepared to share concerns openly.
Number of Participants
Twenty (20) participants can take part in the training program. At that, this number can be negotiated, and more people can be included if necessary. Up to five more employees can be included without the deterioration of the quality or disruptions in the working process of the employees. No additional payment will be needed unless the additional participants need individual training sessions. In that case, the program duration will be expanded, and additional payment will be needed.
Since the focus of this training program is on the acquisition of particular skills necessary for the completion of diverse tasks, the behavioral training technique will be the core of the training process. The participants will practice solving particular issues and attain established goals, which will be instrumental in developing strong skills that will be used in the workplace environment. Some of the basic types of behavioral techniques will be utilized:
- Case studies: The participants will be provided with cases studies that are common in moderation management. The moderators will need to solve particular issues within a brief period of time and explain their choices. Case studies enable trainees to try different methods to manage diverse situations. These skills will make them more confident when dealing with real-life situations. The case studies will be associated with such areas as disagreement on some points and conducting double-checking.
- Workshops: Workshops can be seen as an effective platform for training specific skills. The participants of this program will complete some double-checking, negotiate results, and try to resolve the conflicts. These activities will also be instrumental in gaining the necessary skills, as well as a certain degree of confidence.
At that, some elements of the cognitive approach will also be applied as moderators will be encouraged to reflect on moderation management and other associated processes. The component of the cognitive training methods will be employed to deepen the participants’ knowledge of diverse aspects of their practice. The following tools will be utilized:
- Presentation: the presentation will be held in the form of a lecture with an opportunity to ask questions at some points of the activity. The consultant will deliver a presentation on the specifics of moderation management, double-checking, as well as effective strategies and techniques to complete the corresponding tasks.
- Discussions: As it is possible to hold a training session for two moderators at once (if agreed with AVA and employees), the employees will share their views and concerns on different aspects of their practice with a focus on double-checking. If individual training sessions are held, the participants will discuss these topics with the consultant. In any case, the consultant will guide the discussion to address the most common issues that may arise.
The topics that will be addressed during the activities mentioned above will include:
- Double-checking. The consultant will present the most effective techniques used for double-checking, with a focus on accuracy and accountability.
- Conflict management. Proper moderation management requires strong communication skills and the ability to address conflicts. The consultant will describe some of the most effective strategies to solve conflicts and complete projects successfully.
- Time management. Since moderators have to work in quite short time frames, the consultant will address time management techniques as Pareto analysis, Eisenhower matrix, and time blocking method. These strategies will enable moderators to be more productive, which will reduce the level of job-related stress.
As soon as the initiation date is set, the most convenient schedules for AVA employees and the consultant will be agreed upon. The entire program will take a week, with one or two training sessions per day.
Project Initiation Date
The initiation date will be agreed upon between AVA and the consultant after the approval and signature of this proposal and outline.
Feedback and Follow-Up
The company will provide feedback (in the form of a report) during a day (or up to 7 days) after the termination of the training program. The report template will be offered for AVA’s convenience, or the report can be completed in a free form. Based on the report, the consultant will prepare materials (and an online session if necessary) for a brief refresh course to eliminate any possible gaps in employees’ skills and knowledge. A follow-up session will be held six months after the completion of the training program to make sure that no gaps in the target areas remain. The follow-up program will include a set of materials and a training (online) session (or a set of online activities if needed).
Causes of Common Problems with Client-Consultant Relationships and Ways to Address Them
The development of proper client-consultant relationships is one of the principal aspects of successful consultant practice. Consultants should make sure that they meet their clients’ needs and address any issues that may emerge (Poulfelt & Olson, 2018). One of the most common issues that arise is associated with unmet expectations. Clients may be dissatisfied with the results of the services they received. Sometimes clients feel uncomfortable with or unsure about the methods and techniques used by the consultant. Such issues can be prevented or the negative outcomes related to this problem can be mitigated if proper communication is in place. The consultant has to describe the exact outcomes of the programs and methodology employed with as many details as possible. The proposal is the document that includes all the meaningful data, and by signing the papers, the clients agree to the offered terms and justify their full understanding of the methods and tools used.
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