Management consulting is the practice of helping organizations to improve their performance, primarily through the analysis of existing organizational problems and development of plans for improvement. Organizations may draw upon the services of management consultants for a number of reasons, including gaining external (and presumably objective) advice and access to the consultants’ specialized expertise.
- Assess Needs
- Evaluate and make recommendations regarding your organization’s:
- Include a brief history of the organization
- Perform a SWOTT analysis
- Threats and/or Trends on the organization
- Evaluate and make recommendations regarding your organization’s:
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Business Management & Strategic Planning Consulting
Strategic management is a level of managerial activity below setting goals and above tactics. Strategic management provides overall direction to the enterprise and is closely related to the field of Organization Studies. In the field of business administration it is useful to talk about “strategic consistency” between the organization and its environment or “strategic consistency.” According to Arieu (2007), “there is strategic consistency when the actions of an organization are consistent with the expectations of management, and these in turn are with the market and the context.” Strategic management includes the management team and possibly the Board of Directors and other stakeholders.
Strategic management is an ongoing process that evaluates and controls the business and the industries in which the company is involved; assesses its competitors and sets goals and strategies to meet all existing and potential competitors; and then reassesses each strategy annually or quarterly [i.e. regularly] to determine how it has been implemented and whether it has succeeded or needs replacement by a new strategy to meet changed circumstances, new technology, new competitors, a new economic environment., or a new social, financial, or political environment.” Strategic Management can also be defined as “the identification of the purpose of the organisation and the plans and actions to achieve the purpose. It is that set of managerial decisions and actions that determine the long term performance of a business enterprise. It involves formulating and implementing strategies that will help in aligning the organization and its environment to achieve organisational goals.
Concepts/approaches of strategic management
Strategic management can depend upon the size of an organization, and the proclivity to change of its business environment. These points are highlighted below:
- A global/transnational organization may employ a more structured strategic management model, due to its size, scope of operations, and need to encompass stakeholder views and requirements.
- An SME (Small and Medium Enterprise) may employ an entrepreneurial approach. This is due to its comparatively smaller size and scope of operations, as well as possessing fewer resources. An SME’s CEO (or general top management) may simply outline a mission, and pursue all activities under that mission.
- Whittington (2001) highlighted four approaches to strategic management. These are Classical, Processual, Evolutionary and Systemic approaches.
- Mintzberg stated there are prescriptive (what should be) and descriptive (what is) approaches. Prescriptive schools are “one size fits all” approaches that designate “best practice” while descriptive schools describe how strategy is implemented in specific contexts.
No single strategic managerial method dominates, and remains a subjective and context-dependent process.
Strategy formation (Classical school)
The initial task in strategic management is typically the compilation and dissemination of the vision and the mission statement. This outlines, in essence, the raison d’etre of an organization. Additionally, it specifies the organization’s scope of activities and the markets a firm wishes to serve.
Follow-on strategy formation is a combination of three main processes which are as follows:
- Performing a situation analysis, self-evaluation and competitor analysis: both internal and external; both micro-environmental and macro-environmental.
- Concurrent with this assessment, short- and long-term objectives are set. These objectives should include completion dates.
- Implementation plans then detail how the objectives are to be achieved.
An environmental scan will highlight all pertinent aspects that affect an organization, whether external or sector/industry-based. Such an occurrence will also uncover areas to capitalize on, in addition to areas in which expansion may be unwise.
These options, once identified, have to be vetted and screened by an organization. In addition to ascertaining the suitability, feasibility and acceptability of an option, the actual modes of progress have to be determined. These pertain to:
The basis of competition
Companies derive competitive advantage from how an organization produces its products, how it acts within a market relative to its competitors, or other aspects of the business. Specific approaches may include:
- Differentiation, in which products compete by offering a unique combination of features.
- Cost, in which products compete to offer an acceptable list of features at the lowest possible cost.
- Segmentation, in which products are tailored for the unique needs of a specific market, instead of trying to serve all consumers.
Suitability deals with the overall rationale of the strategy.
- Does the strategy address the mission?
- Does it reflect the organization’s capabilities?
- Does it make economic sense?
Evaluation tools include strength, weakness, opportunity, threat (SWOT) analysis.
Feasibility is concerned with whether the organization has the resources required to implement the strategy. Resources include capital, people, time, market access and expertise.
Evaluation tools include :
- cash flow analysis and forecasting
- break-even analysis
- resource deployment analysis
This has to be inline with demand forecasting.
Acceptability is concerned with the expectations of the identified stakeholders (shareholders, employees and customers, etc.) with the expected financial and non-financial outcomes. Return deals with stakeholder benefits. Risk deals with the probability and consequences of failure. Employees are particularly likely to have concerns about non-financial issues such as working conditions and outsourcing.
Evaluation tools include:
- what-if analysis
- stakeholder mapping
While products and services that fit the strategy may receive additional investment, those that don’t must also be addressed, either via consolidation with another product/service, divestment to another firm, immediate retirement or harvesting without further investment.
Additionally, the exact means of implementing a strategy needs to be considered. These points range from:
- Alliances with other firms to fill capability/technology/legal gaps
- Investment in internal development
- Mergers/acquisitions of products or firms to reduce time to market
Countries such as India and China require market entrants to operate via partnerships with local firms.
Strategic implementation and control
Implementing a strategy involves organizing, resourcing and employing change management procedures.
Implementing a strategy may require organizational changes, such as creating new units, merging existing ones or even switching from a geographical structure to a functional one or vice versa. Organizing also involves bringing together factors and arranging them in the preferred order and also setting things straight.
Implementation may require significant budget shifts, impacting human resources and capital expenditure.
Implementing a strategy may have effects that ripple across an organization. Minimizing disruption can reduce costs and save time. One approach is to appoint an individual to champion the changes, address and eventually enlist opponents and proactively identify and mitigate problems.