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What Exactly Does A Consultant Do?  
User currently offlineJFK69 From United States of America, joined Jun 2006, 1421 posts, RR: 1
Posted (7 years 2 months 2 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 5603 times:

OK....So I always read about and hear about people who are consultants. They make their living going from company to company "consulting".....You travel a lot and seem to get paid lots of money.......What the Hell do you guys do????

Why does a company need a consultant? How did one get hired as a consultant? Who do you work for? Why do you get paid so much? why don't you work for a single company doing the exact same thing? What schooling does one need???????????


Answeres people, Answers!

32 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineBoeing4ever From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (7 years 2 months 2 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 5596 times:



 airplane B4e-Forever New Frontiers airplane 


User currently offlineZakHH From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (7 years 2 months 2 weeks ago) and read 5588 times:

Easy: you go to a company, tell them to lay off 25-50% of their staff, then tell them "see how I helped reducing the costs", and then invoice them 10% of the annual saved costs as a commission, before they will realize that they are not operable without their staff... Big grin

Seriously, consulting can make sense. Inside a company, you tend to grow blind towards certain problems. An analysis from an experienced outsider can be helpful in certain situations.

Consulting can mean different things. Helping with new tasks your company has no experience with yet. Moderating internal conflicts, like when 2 departments start battling each other, or a project is stuck and everybody is blaming the other. Introducing workflow improvements. Aiding in a financial crisis. Etc. pp.

In general, I'd say that most consultants are highly overrated (and overpaid), but there is situations where consulting makes sense, and there are also some consultants who know their shit.


User currently offlineBristolFlyer From United Kingdom, joined May 2004, 2312 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (7 years 2 months 2 weeks ago) and read 5586 times:

I had a friend who worked for Ernst & Young and I went for an interview there. Consutants consult on a broad range of topics, as an example I was interviewing for a manufacturring role. They typically advise businesses how to become more efficient and implement best working practices in whatever field it is they are lacking. This is often done after a major change in management.

You don't really go to specific consulting school, you just become proficient at your chosen subject then apply that in your job as a consultant.

Consultants are often paid very well with nice bonusses, but there can be a lot of pressure to meet deadlines. Quite often the consultants are not exactly welcome when trying to advise em



Fortune favours the brave
User currently offlineCaptOveur From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (7 years 2 months 2 weeks ago) and read 5582 times:

Quoting JFK69 (Thread starter):
What the Hell do you guys do

If you can figure out what a consultant does please tell all of us.

As far as I have seen they take companies that are functional and profitable. They move everyone's seats around for no reason. Maybe eliminate some people, maybe add some people. They also re-name all the departments so you need a terminology dictionary just to figure out who to ask a question of. Usually in the midst of all this earnings fall- and not just because the consulting company is sucking down millions out of the deal.


User currently offlineWrenchBender From Canada, joined Feb 2004, 1779 posts, RR: 8
Reply 5, posted (7 years 2 months 2 weeks ago) and read 5582 times:

Quoting JFK69 (Thread starter):
What Exactly Does A Consultant Do?

He's the guy that comes in to YOUR company, borrows YOUR watch, to tell YOU, what time it is. And gets paid huge amounts of money for the privilege.
Currently there is a Six Sigma/Lean team visiting, working on a move at the company where I'm located. Man, I am so happy I only get to watch  rotfl   rotfl   rotfl   rotfl   rotfl 

WrenchBender



Silly Pilot, Tricks are for kids.......
User currently offlineMt99 From United States of America, joined May 1999, 6678 posts, RR: 6
Reply 6, posted (7 years 2 months 2 weeks ago) and read 5582 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

They provide better ways to get those pesky TPS reports out on time.


Step into my office, baby
User currently offlineCaptOveur From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (7 years 2 months 2 weeks ago) and read 5573 times:

Quoting WrenchBender (Reply 5):
Currently there is a Six Sigma/Lean team visiting, working on a move at the company where I'm located.

Sucks to be you.. Its going to be expensive, you are going to kill more trees for no apparent reason, and there will be no discernable improvement in your final product.


User currently offlineBanco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 53
Reply 8, posted (7 years 2 months 2 weeks ago) and read 5569 times:

Quoting WrenchBender (Reply 5):
He's the guy that comes in to YOUR company, borrows YOUR watch, to tell YOU, what time it is. And gets paid huge amounts of money for the privilege.

Quite so. And the people who pay the penalty for the management being so bleeding incompetent that they have to bring in outside help are the staff who get made redundant as a result.

First rule of thumb should be to fire the management so inept that they need to be told by someone else how to run the business, and get people in who know what they're doing.



She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
User currently offlineWrenchBender From Canada, joined Feb 2004, 1779 posts, RR: 8
Reply 9, posted (7 years 2 months 2 weeks ago) and read 5560 times:

Quoting CaptOveur (Reply 7):
Sucks to be you.. Its going to be expensive, you are going to kill more trees for no apparent reason, and there will be no discernable improvement in your final product.

I'm the Military Liaison to the company, so I get to watch and laugh. I'm only worried about packing up my files/office when the time comes for the move. How the new place is going to be layed out may prove to be interesting though.
Sometimes it's good to be on the outside looking in.

WrenchBender



Silly Pilot, Tricks are for kids.......
User currently offlineStlgph From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 9521 posts, RR: 26
Reply 10, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 5528 times:

Quoting ZakHH (Reply 2):
In general, I'd say that most consultants are highly overrated (and overpaid), but there is situations where consulting makes sense, and there are also some consultants who know their shit.

SAP Consultants -- $140 an hour-ish.
QS9000/ISO 9000 Consultants -- $1200 a day.



if assumptions could fly, airliners.net would be the world's busiest airport
User currently offlineIFEMaster From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 5513 times:

Quoting Mt99 (Reply 6):
They provide better ways to get those pesky TPS reports out on time.

"Samir Naga...Naga...Nagonnaworkhereanymore..."


User currently offlineMDorBust From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 5500 times:

Well... I come into your buisness, pester you, peek in all your stuff, ask way too many questions, follow your employees around, ocassionally "borrow" one of your field service vehicles, and give a seminar or three. Then, in a year when your buisness calls me to say your problem hasn't been solved I point out all the things in my giant binder sized report I gave you that you still aren't doing.

Oh, and I cash your check too.


User currently offlineCastleIsland From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 5500 times:

With all due respect, you all seem to be painting consultants with a very broad brush.

I am an environmental consultant. I provide scientific expertise to EPA regarding potential health effects of chemicals in drinking water, occurrence of chemicals in drinking water, analytical methods for detecting chemicals in drinking water, behavior of chemicals in the environment, particularly regarding their persistence and mobility, and tie all this into a policy/regulatory framework.

I am by no means overpaid, and have never told anyone to lay someone off.

Before you haul out those broad brushes, you might want to consider the broader meaning of the word "consultant."


User currently offlineBanco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 53
Reply 14, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 5497 times:

Quoting CastleIsland (Reply 13):
Before you haul out those broad brushes, you might want to consider the broader meaning of the word "consultant."

Not really. I'm known as a consultant for some of the stuff I do, as well, but I think we all know what we mean in the context provided here. I don't actually have the slightest problem with Management Consultants doing what they do to earn a living; good luck to them. I do have a problem with companies employing them because they are either inept or too cowardly to do what they need to themselves.



She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
User currently offline2H4 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 8956 posts, RR: 60
Reply 15, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 5475 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
DATABASE EDITOR

Quoting Banco (Reply 14):
I do have a problem with companies employing them because they are either inept or too cowardly to do what they need to themselves.

What is your opinion of companies who are A) unwilling to admit they are entering new, perhaps unfamiliar territory, B) unwilling to admit they have weaknesses, and C) unwilling to seek out guidance and training to address these challenges?

To me, such companies closely resemble the airline captain of the 1950s and 1960s....they know all, they can do no wrong, they don't need any help.

More modern (and forward-thinking) companies, by contrast, are more willing to examine themselves. They're more willing to honestly assess their challenges and limitations. Seeking knowledgeable, professional outside perspective is not necessarily indicative of an unwillingness to work, or ineptitude. In fact, doing so is usually a good indicator that the company is actively seeking out and addressing their weaknesses.

Hiring consultants certainly isn't a be-all, end-all solution to a company's challenges.....but I don't think it's accurate to suggest that doing so is usually just a way to avoid work or pass the buck.

2H4




Intentionally Left Blank
User currently offlineJFK69 From United States of America, joined Jun 2006, 1421 posts, RR: 1
Reply 16, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 5469 times:

Quoting CastleIsland (Reply 13):
With all due respect, you all seem to be painting consultants with a very broad brush.

I am an environmental consultant. I provide scientific expertise to EPA regarding potential health effects of chemicals in drinking water, occurrence of chemicals in drinking water, analytical methods for detecting chemicals in drinking water, behavior of chemicals in the environment, particularly regarding their persistence and mobility, and tie all this into a policy/regulatory framework.

I am by no means overpaid, and have never told anyone to lay someone off.

Before you haul out those broad brushes, you might want to consider the broader meaning of the word "consultant."

Ok, but how did you get started...do you work for yourself or are you employed by a larger company who sent you to the EPA?? How did the EPA find out about you and why you are not hired full time for them?


User currently offlineCastleIsland From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 5450 times:

Quoting JFK69 (Reply 16):
Ok, but how did you get started...do you work for yourself or are you employed by a larger company who sent you to the EPA??

I work for a company of about 150 employees who has had contracts with EPA for some 24 years.

Quoting JFK69 (Reply 16):
How did the EPA find out about you and why you are not hired full time for them?

We were awarded contracts in the past, did good work, and thus have been awarded more and more contracts.

The simple answer to the second question here is smaller government. Rather than do all of their technical work in-house, they are granted a contract budget to hire outside experts to assist them in their efforts. That way there are fewer government employees with government-sponsored heath care and government pensions. Instead, they hire internally and sub-contract work to companies such as the one I work for, and my company covers my benefits as a private company.


User currently offlineScarletHarlot From Canada, joined Jul 2003, 4673 posts, RR: 56
Reply 18, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 5420 times:

I used to be a retirement consultant. My group wrote pension calculation systems for large companies. We partnered with the internal pension groups at our clients to develop a calc system for their pension plans, taking into consideration their administrative practice, processes, etc.

We had a very special expertise that no one company really needed to have internally. Why does a company need actuaries who are also programmers? They generally don't. Instead, they hired us to do the work, which we did for many clients. In this way we learned from each of our clients and applied our best practices to all of them. We brought an outside point of view to our clients and looked for ways to improve or automate their processes.

I now work for one of my old clients and I have two vendors / consultants I work with constantly. We outsourced our pension administration to the company that bought my old employer. They can administer our pensions for less money than it would cost us to do it internally due to economies of scale. We have another vendor whose specialty is cleaning pension data. No one company needs such people internally - the model works best to have such highly specialized people out in their own company, available to hire as needed.



But that was when I ruled the world
User currently offlineCastleIsland From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 19, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 5407 times:

Quoting ScarletHarlot (Reply 18):
the model works best to have such highly specialized people out in their own company, available to hire as needed

 checkmark 

Good point, Scarlet!

I should add to my post above, that Scarlet's point applies to my field as well. When EPA subcontracts a company to perform a scope of work, they may not need that area of expertise for an extended period of time. Instead of hiring people internally, they contract consultant services for the period of performance that suits their needs. Similarly, if they have a long-term project, they may offer a limited-time contract, and of they are not happy with the contractor/consultant, at the end of the period of performance they can send the work out for re-bid and hire another company.

It would make no sense for EPA (just as an example with which I am familiar) to hire all these experts internally just to have to let them go after the specialized work has been completed. You know, government jobs are not subject to hire and fire the same way jobs in the private sector are.

This is not to say that EPA does not have a great deal of personnel with experience in very specialized areas either. It's just that there are a great many others of us spread around the country who can provide these services for less money and more flexibility (i.e., duration of project).


User currently offlineAirxliban From Lebanon, joined Oct 2003, 4518 posts, RR: 53
Reply 20, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 5381 times:

Consultant is a very broad term - I am actually a consultant with a top 5 management consulting firm in the McKinsey space. I've been doing it for 1 year, and if I were to describe what "consulting" is from our perpsective I'd say that we provide solutions to business-related problems to which the answer is not immediately obvious.

i.e. A client is a US pencil manufacturer that wants to expand into Mexico. Should they enter the Mexican pencil market? If so, how? Should they export, set up a wholly owned foreign enterprise, set up a joint venture, or otherwise? How much can they make?

i.e. A client is an insurance company that has seen a 5% decrease in profitability year on year. What happened and what can they do to increase profitability?

i.e. A client wants to make a strategic acquisition. What should they look for in a target and how much should they be willing to pay?

We can give perspectives on these as well as other sorts of issues, and typically set up a case team of 3-6 people for a few months and work alongside the client to achieve the deliverable of the project.

Hope that helps.



PARIS, FRANCE...THE BEIRUT OF EUROPE.
User currently offlineBeefer From United States of America, joined Jun 2003, 390 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 6 days ago) and read 5320 times:

My wife works on a Project in which several consultants are involved.

The main consultant who works the most gets paid $117 per hour. Basically works a full 40 hour week so his monthly compensation is usually around $16,000 to $20,000.

He also gets paid ALL expenses on top of the hourly rate. He lives about 200 miles from the project location so he drives home every weekend. Not only does he get the normal mileage compensation, but he also gets paid his hourly rate for the time he is driving. The project has a house for him to live in when he is at the site. He gets reimbursed for food puchased, but also turns in receipts for things like laundry, etc. He even turns in receipts for 75 cents because he stopped at a gas station and bought a can of Coke.

The consultant gets paid more than the head of the project gets paid.

Their are other consultants on the project which get closer to $200 per hour but they don't work nearly as much.

Lots of Law Firms involved in the project as well. Some charging close to $600 per hour.


User currently offlineBanco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 53
Reply 22, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 6 days ago) and read 5311 times:

Quoting 2H4 (Reply 15):
What is your opinion of companies who are A) unwilling to admit they are entering new, perhaps unfamiliar territory, B) unwilling to admit they have weaknesses, and C) unwilling to seek out guidance and training to address these challenges?

It would be an unusual way to approach such a challenge, to simply appoint some consultants. Many times in what I do I enter new and unfamiliar territory, but before going into it I do thinks like research, and then look to employ people who can do the job. I don't go running to consultants because it's not a cost effective or long term solution.



She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
User currently offline2H4 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 8956 posts, RR: 60
Reply 23, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 5300 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
DATABASE EDITOR

Quoting Banco (Reply 22):
Many times in what I do I enter new and unfamiliar territory, but before going into it I do thinks like research, and then look to employ people who can do the job. I don't go running to consultants because it's not a cost effective or long term solution.

Please understand, I'm not suggesting that you're doing the wrong thing, nor am I suggesting that everyone should go running to consultants anytime they enter uncharted territory or find themselves struggling with something.

I'm simply arguing that blind resistance to the very notion of hiring consultants is becoming increasingly indicative of being behind the times.

I think that labeling companies who hire consultants as "either inept or too cowardly to do what they need to themselves" is a sign that the whole picture isn't being taken into account. Sure, those kinds of companies do exist, but assigning that characteristic to every company seeking help from consultants is quite shortsighted.

Kudos to you, though, for rolling up your sleeves and tackling challenges yourself.  Smile

2H4




Intentionally Left Blank
User currently offlineBanco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 53
Reply 24, posted (7 years 2 months 1 week 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 5296 times:

Quoting 2H4 (Reply 23):
I'm simply arguing that blind resistance to the very notion of hiring consultants is becoming increasingly indicative of being behind the times.

First of all, it's not blind resistance, it's an appraisal based on what they can offer. And the answer is, not much for the money they charge compared to alternatives. Secondly, it's a circular and self-justifying argument to say that not liking consultants is by definition indicative of being behind the times. To be honest with you, anyone that tried that argument with me would automatically be ruled out of consideration anyway for being far too up themselves for their own good. I come across that kind of stuff a lot actually, the kind of team-building bullshit that says a refusal to participate is automatic evidence of a closed mind. I tell them I'm not a team player anyway, and if they want to run around a field doing stupid things, that's up to them, but I'm going to the pub.  Wink

Now, I'm not saying they don't have a place, and I did say further up that all best wishes to them for doing what they do. But equally, the kind of smug-management-consultant-speak that so often appears is reason to throw many of them off the highest building that can be found.

I'm quite sure not all are like that, and that some are very good indeed. I just haven't yet found one. Feel free to convince me of your merits, I'm quite prepared to listen - I'm open-minded you see....  Wink



She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
25 Joness0154 : I'm trying to get a job out of school (I graduate in December) with an aviation consulting firm. They do airport planning, financial planning, environ
26 Tom in NO : One of the better consultant jokes I've heard goes like this: A shepherd was herding his flock in a remote pasture when suddenly a brand-new BMW advan
27 Post contains images 2H4 : Refusal to participate is not evidence of a closed mind.....refusal to consider participating is. Again, not liking consultants is one thing.....but
28 57AZ : In the field that I work in, they provide engineering advice and expertise to government agencies that often do not have the required knowledge or exp
29 Post contains images AKLDELNonstop : Spoken like a true consultant
30 Moo : What do we do? Simple - we bring experience, skills and expertise to your company when you do not need those things longterm or when those things are
31 Melpax : Rape & Pillage??
32 Post contains images ModernArt : Many of my drinking buddies are ex- Andersen Consulting (Acenture today) types. They lived the good life traveling the world on someone else's dime fo
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