An updated version of this post with new sources and descriptions appears in The Consulting Apprenticeship (update September 2016).
It is relatively easy to find white papers, articles, magazine publications, etc. by management consulting firms. While these vehicles can be excellent sources of information, they tend shed light on either the thought leadership, research base, and/or marketing aspects of consulting firms. For those that are trying to learn about consulting firms from the perspective of what do consultants actually do and/or produce, there is relatively little information on the Internet that I have found that represents a concrete, traditional management consulting deliverable. In a large part, this tends to be because many consulting engagements involve confidential relationships between the consultancy and the client, and disclosure is not permitted.
That said, I have located a public sector deliverable (by the well-respected management consulting firm, Dean & Company) on the Internet at this site and thought I would share it (note PDF file – Download dean_report.pdf). It is an excellent example for at least a couple of reasons:
- It illustrates how best practice consulting should be driven by facts and a scientific method to the fullest extent possible – The presentation I show here is full of both benchmarking information and comprehensive analysis from numerous perspectives.
- The presentation style (which I call a “consulting style” perhaps incorrectly) reflects bottom-line titling of slides as compared to topical titling – This is a method that I did not see before entering consulting, and it is a method that I infrequently see in corporate environments (or at least much less frequently as compared to consulting environments). Notice how the title for slide 6 reads, “Expectations of selling service bundles are in line with other ‘triple play’ networks”. Even if one can’t read the blurry or busy figures in the slides, one can end up reading just the titles of the slides in the deck and get the overall executive storyline. Compare that to the situation if slide 6 was a topical titled slide that read, “Service Bundle Analysis”. Now one would have to read the slide to try to extract a bottom line message.
Now it is important to caveat this post by mentioning that this is only one type of deliverable by a consulting firm, but it is a great example. It is also worth mentioning that it is easy to look at a deliverable and completely miss the process aspect of how consulting deliverables may be generated. The process aspect may be equally, if not more important than the deliverable, and the process method varies by consulting firm. For example, the process to generate the deliverable (not necessarily the one here) may have been to facilitate input and involvement over a period of time from multiple divisions and functions within a company with oversight and/or steering by the executive team of the client. The benefits of that mix and method, while too detailed to go into here, should not be overlooked.
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