Businesses and organizations often turn to strategy consulting firms when they need assistance with an important change, transition, growth period or the implementation of new systems and policies. As the name implies, these consulting firms are experts in business strategy. Although strategy isn’t the only determinant of success or failure, it is perhaps the most important factor in the potential for growth and profitability in a business. Strategy is important for organizations of all types, whether for profit or not, if they are going to successfully change their processes and manage new projects. A business strategy consultant can provide the tools, guidance and know-how to successfully maneuver through several difficult stages and transitions in the life cycle of a company or agency, so choosing a firm or an individual consultant is an important decision.
If your company is thinking about hiring business strategy consultants, there are several different things you should look for before bestowing this important responsibility on any one agency or individual. Even if it means spending a little extra money initially, choosing a consulting firm that can provide these things will ultimately pay off. Working with a less experienced consultant just to save money in the short term could cost more than it’s worth when their limits begin to show.
These are arguably the top five things to look for in a strategy consultant:
Broad business experience
Experience with your specific industry
A new integrated framework to help you develop your strategy
Previous success developing strategies for satisfied clientele
Ongoing attention to the latest technological tools available
It may sound counterintuitive to look for broad business experience as well as specific experience with your industry, but having both broad and specific experience can be very useful during big periods of change. Strategy consulting firms that only work with your industry may not be able to offer a fresh perspective, while consulting firms that have no experience with your industry may be lacking basic knowledge that takes time and energy to learn as they go. So make sure to look for a strategy consultant that understands where you’re coming from but can also bring questions and ideas from outside the industry.
A successful integrated framework suggests that a consultant or consulting firm has a great deal of experience, because they must understand what components work well together and what particular format they work most successfully in. Your best bet is to look for business strategy consultants who can offer a new integrated framework where your organization can develop your strategy, so you can get the kind of fresh start that will work for you, not against you. Make sure to ask any prospective consultants what kind of integrated framework they offer, and look for simple, yet intuitive tools that are easy to implement and maintain. The more complicated the framework of your strategy, the less likely that it will be successfully integrated into your organization’s processes and systems moving forward.
Any business strategy consultant worth hiring will also be willing to provide references from previous clientele so you can get a sense of the kind of work they’ve done in the past. If they have been successful in developing simple, yet thorough strategies for satisfied clients in the past, they can likely do the same for you. And last but not least, always look for consultants with an eye on the technological advancements of the future. Many of the strategies that successful organizations will be embracing in coming years will rely heavily on the latest technology to implement, and the right consultant can make sure you’re not left behind.
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David Meehan is an Associate Director with Paragon’s Advisory Services team where he leads high profile management consulting engagements with a concentration on customer experience. Prior to joining Paragon in 2010, David was a management consultant for CSC where he was an instrumental in leading several large-scale, multi-year engagements, including a legacy modernization effort for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and the Morgan Stanley Smith Barney joint venture. David received a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Rutgers University, NJ. He is a United States Air Force veteran having served in Oman for Operation Enduring Freedom.