A consulting firm or simply consultancy is a professional service firm that provides expert advice for a fee. Consulting firms may have one employee or thousands; they may consult in a broad range of domains, for example, management, engineering, and so on.
Management consultants, in particular, typically work with company executives and provide them with generalists and industry-specific specialists, known as subject-matter experts, usually trained in management or in business schools. The deliverable of a management consultant is usually recommendations for achieving a company objective, leading to a company project.
Many consulting firms complement the recommendations with implementation support, either by the consultants or by technicians and other experts. This is called outsourcing.
Consulting services are part of the tertiary sector and account for several hundred billion dollars in annual revenues. Between 2010 and 2015, the 10 largest consulting firms alone made 170 billion dollars growth revenue and the average annual growth rate is around 4%.
The segmentation of advisory services varies widely across organizations and countries. Categorization is unclear, in part because of the upheavals that have occurred in this industry in recent years.
One approach is to separate services into four broad service delivery families, considering the managers they are targeting:
- Services related to the company's overall strategy, which are addressed to the CEO,
- Services related to marketing, communication, sales and public relations, which are addressed to the CMO,
- Services related to management, financial management, taxation, accounting, compliance with regulations, for the CFO,
- Services related to the company's operations, including information technology, intended for operational management, which may be different depending on the industrial sector (technology director, plant managers, operations directors, Research and Development managers), for instance COO and CTO.
There are different types of Consulting Firms serving different sectors. They mainly fall under the following fields:
- Architecture and Engineering
- Financial services
- Health care
- Hotel and hospitality industry
- Human resources
- Information technology
- Regulatory compliance
In addition to the above-mentioned fields, there are consulting firms that serve niche sectors such as