What is a consulting methodology?
Consulting methodologies are methods or approaches used by consultants in tackling a particular challenge, problem or client engagement.
Characteristics of a consulting methodology
Consulting methodologies typically possess some or all of the following characteristics:
- Based on a coherent set of design principles, concepts and theories
- Supported by a body of research undertaken either in an academic or commercial environment
- Enable a particular challenge to be tackled in a structured and systematic fashion with a high probability of achieving particular beneficial outcomes
- Likely to have been used in similar situations a number of times before and through use and application the methodology is likely to have been refined and improved
The value of a methodology
Management consultants benefit greatly from operating by reference to proven consulting methodologies. A consulting methodology provides a frame of reference, structure and often a prescribed set of activities and tasks that will be undertaken in a particular and logical order.
Examples of consulting methodologies
Across all mainstream consulting disciplines there are numerous examples of consulting methodologies; some common examples are set out below:
Software development methodology
In software development there are two broad categories of methodology or approach. First, the traditional development approach that starts with capturing business requirements and then progresses sequentially through design, development, testing and implementation.
As an alternative, many IT professionals make use of what is referred to as a Rapid Application Development methodology which generally is a much more rapid and pragmatic approach. Central to RAD is the requirement that experts from the business and technology arenas work closely together in collaboration through all stages of the project.
This methodology offers the potential for a number of advantages including reducing the risk of misunderstandings on business requirements and increasing the likelihood of the project been completed in a shorter time frame.
Project management methodology
Most management consulting assignments need to be planned and executed as discrete projects. PRINCE2 is widely held to be the leading best-practice project management methodology. The method provides a proven framework in addition to a coherent set of tools that together support a structured yet flexible approach to managing a project through it's life cycle.
Business process improvement methodology
Another very common consulting methodology is Lean Six Sigma which has been widely adopted in many process based businesses and industries, and is thought by many to be the most effective method for the design and optimization of business processes.
Cutting through the jargon, a consulting methodology is nothing more than a proven approach through which a skilled consultant uses his specialist knowledge and expertise to the benefit of his clients.
Investing time and effort in improving your skills and gaining recognized qualifications in whatever is your niche discipline will payback tenfold.
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