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Business consultants provide management consulting to help organizations improve their performance and efficiency. These professionals analyze businesses and create solutions while also helping companies meet their goals.  Business consultants almost never use the word “problem”; instead, they talk about opportunities to enhance value. Ask any consultant what they do, and they’ll likely say “I’m in the solutions business.” Despite criticism that’s sometimes leveled at business consultants, they truly can add value to your middle market company, but you need to know when and why to use them. There is a huge range of business issues that consultants can provide solutions for, and different types of consultants bring different ideas to the table.

Business consultants can generally add value in five major areas of your middle market business:

Management and strategy. Qualified consultants should have a deep understanding of your particular market and bring the best practices from your industry (or even other industries) to your company. If you’re looking to expand your markets geographically, extend your product portfolio, reorganize your middle market company to promote efficiency and cost-effectiveness, buy out a smaller competitor, or increase your overall capabilities, then hiring an experienced management/strategy consultant can make perfect sense. Firms such as McKinsey & Company are famous for helping clients develop and execute better strategies.

Operations. Want to improve the quality and efficiency of your production processes? An operations consultant such as Accenture can help you create and implement a new way of doing just that. Some consultants specialize in business process re-engineering, meaning that they come in and map out your existing processes, analyze opportunities for reducing the number of steps in that process while maintaining quality, and re-engineer your processes in a way that reduces steps and costs. Other consultants are experts in quality control systems and can help you make changes that will reduce defects.

IT. This is a fast-growing area for consulting, as the demands of new technology are impacting middle market companies every day. Whether you need to develop a new system or integrate your old systems so that they work together, an IT consultant can help. IT consultants such as IBM will enhance your capabilities and also make your IT more flexible in meeting the dynamic needs of internal and external customers.

HR. Need to improve the overall satisfaction of your employees, recruit top talent, and retain your top performers? HR consultants such as Hay Group specialize in developing compensation strategies that align with your overall business goals, training, and developing your people in areas such as business communication and leadership. They can help you improve performance-related feedback and evaluation to your team, making your employees work smarter.

Marketing. Whether you need a new logo for your company, a new market position for one of your brands, or a new social media strategy to interact with your customers, marketing consultants can help. Consultants such as The Boston Consulting Group can offer you a creative spark when your own people have run out of ideas, letting you see what other companies have done to attract more customers.

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