- Finance

The Process of Working with a Management Consultant: What to Expect

A management consultant is a professional who provides expert advice to businesses and organisations. They help companies improve their performance by analysing existing problems, identifying areas for improvement, and developing strategies for success.

Working with a management consultant can be an extremely valuable experience for any business owner or organisation.

If you’re considering bringing a consultant on board, understanding the process and knowing what to expect can help you maximise the potential of this professional relationship.

Why Work with a Management Consultant

Small business owners, startups, and entrepreneurs often wear multiple hats, juggling strategic planning, finances, sales, marketing, and operations. For these professionals, working with a management consultant can:

  • Provide fresh, impartial perspectives on challenges you’re facing.
  • Offer specialised expertise that may not exist within your organisation.
  • Accelerate the learning curve for new initiatives or technologies.
  • Act as a catalyst for change, helping employees adapt in a structured manner.

Management consultants are more than just advisors; they become temporary members of your team, with the sole purpose of helping to grow and strengthen your business.

Finding the Right Consultant

The key to a positive consulting experience lies in the initial phase of the relationship. Here’s how to ensure you find the right match:

  • Understand Your Needs: Before you start looking for a consultant, have a clear idea of what you need help with. Do you need to improve sales, streamline operations, or enhance customer service?
  • Seek Expertise: Look for consultants that specialise in your area of need. Industry experience is a big bonus.
  • Check Their Track Record: A good consultant will be able to give you references from past clients. Speak to these references and ask about their experiences.
  • Cultural Match: Make sure the consultant’s approach and work style align with your company culture.

Finding a good match is key as consultants will become deeply involved in the strategic and sometimes sensitive aspects of your business.

Initial Consultation

Once you’ve selected a candidate, the next step is to have an initial consultation. This meeting should be:

  • Mutually Beneficial: Both parties should come out of this meeting with a clear idea of whether they can work together and what the engagement would look like.
  • Focused: Stick to the main points and make sure to cover your main areas of concern.
  • Open to Questions: The consultant should be just as interested in your business as you are in their approach.

The goal of this stage is to ensure that both parties are clear on what’s expected from the upcoming engagement.

Engagement Process

After the initial consultation, you will move into the engagement phase. This typically involves:

  • Proposal Review: The consultant will likely send a proposal outlining the scope of work and the costs involved.
  • Negotiation and Agreement: There might be some back and forth as both parties negotiate the finer points of the proposal. Once everything is agreed upon, a contract is drawn up and signed.
  • Kick-off Meeting: This marks the official beginning of the engagement and is an opportunity to get all stakeholders on the same page.

This phase is where expectations are formalised, and the work gets underway.

Work Phases

A management consulting engagement can be broken down into several phases, such as:

  • Assessment: The consultant will work to understand your company, your goals, and the challenges you’re experiencing. This can involve interviews with key staff, reviews of operations, and analyses of data.
  • Analysis: With a comprehensive understanding of your company, the consultant will analyse the information gathered during the assessment phase to identify the root causes of any issues and potential areas for growth.
  • Strategy Development: Based on the analysis, the consultant will work with your team to develop a strategic plan. This can be a challenging phase as it often requires decisions about where to allocate resources and how to approach the market.
  • Implementation: The final phase is the execution of the strategy. This can involve further consulting work, training your team, or supporting them in a part-time, interim management role.

Effective communication and collaboration are essential during these phases to ensure that the strategic plan meets the needs of your business and is advanced effectively.

Communication and Feedback

Throughout the engagement, communication will be key. A good consultant will provide:

  • Regular Updates: You should not feel left in the dark about the progress of the consulting project. Regular meetings or reports should keep you informed.
  • Avenues for Feedback: Be clear with the consultant about how you would like to receive information and what your preferred communication style is.

Open lines of communication will result in a better working relationship and, ultimately, better outcomes.


Working with a management consultant can be a rewarding experience if you know what to expect and how to manage the process effectively. To summarise, finding the right consultant for your business is a careful and methodical process of research, selection, and negotiation. 

Remember to articulate your needs clearly and be open to the advice and experience that the consultant brings to the table. Stay actively engaged in the process, and ensure that lines of communication are open. In doing so, you’ll not only solve the immediate as issues at hand but develop the capacity for ongoing growth and development within your business.