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Management analysts and consultants suggest solutions to management problems. For example, a rapidly growing small company may need help in designing a better system of control over inventories and expenses, or an established manufacturing company decides to relocate to another State and needs assistance planning the move, or a large company realizes that its corporate structure must be reorganized after acquiring a new division. These are just a few of the many organizational problems that management analysts, as they are called in government agencies, and management consultants, as business firms refer to them, help solve.
The work of management analysts and consultants varies by client or employer and from project to project. For example, some projects require a team of consultants, each specializing in one area; at other times, they will work independently with the client's managers. In general, analysts and consultants first collect, review, and analyze information. They then make recommendations to management and often assist in the implementation of their proposal.
Both public and private organizations use consultants for a variety of reasons. Some don't have the internal resources needed to handle a project; others need a consultant's expertise to determine what resources will be required, and what problems may be encountered, if they pursue a particular course of action. Still others want to get outside help on how to resolve organizational problems that have already been identified or to avoid troublesome problems that could arise
Firms providing consulting services range in size from solo practitioners to large international organizations employing thousands of consultants. Some firms specialize by industry while others specialize by type of business function, such as human resources or information systems. In government, management analysts tend to specialize by type of agency. Consulting services usually are provided on a contract basis whereby a company solicits proposals from a number of consulting firms specializing in the area in which it needs assistance. These proposals include the estimated cost and scope of the project, staffing requirements, references from a number of previous clients, and the deadline. The company then selects the proposal which best meets its needs.
Upon getting an assignment or contract, consultants and analysts try to define the nature and extent of the problem. During this phase of the job, they may analyze data such as annual revenues, employment, or expenditures. Next they interview managers and employees and observe the operations of the organizational unit.
Next, they use their knowledge of management systems and their expertise in a particular area to develop solutions to the problem. In the course of preparing their recommendations, they must take into account the general nature of the business, the relationship the firm has with others in that industry, and the firm's internal organization and culture, as well as information gained through data collection and analysis.
Once they have decided on a course of action, consultants usually report their findings and recommendations to the client, often in writing. In addition, they generally make oral presentations regarding their findings. For some projects, this is all that is required; for others, consultants may assist in the implementation of their suggestions.
Management analysts in government agencies use the same skills as their private-sector colleagues to advise managers in government on many types of issues, most of which are similar to the problems faced by private firms. For example, if an agency is planning to purchase personal computers, it first must determine which type to buy, given its budget and data processing needs. Management analysts would assess the various types of machines available by price range and determine which best meets their department's needs.
Management analysts and consultants usually divide their time between their offices and their client's site. Although much of their time is spent indoors in clean, well-lighted offices, they may have to visit a client's production facility where conditions may not be so favorable.
Typically, analysts and consultants work at least 40 hours a week. Overtime is common, especially when project deadlines are near. Since they must spend a significant portion of their time with clients, they may travel frequently.
Self-employed consultants can set their workload and hours and work at home. On the other hand, their livelihood depends on their ability to maintain and expand their client base. Wage and salary consultants also must favorably impress potential clients to get and keep clients for their company.
Management analysts and consultants held about 231,000 jobs in 1994. About half of these workers were self-employed. Most of the rest worked in management consulting firms and for Federal, State, and local governments. The majority of those working for the Federal Government were found in the Department of Defense.
Management analysts and consultants are found throughout the country, but employment is concentrated in large metropolitan areas.
Educational requirements for entry level jobs in this field vary widely, but there is an increasing emphasis on scientific and technological applications at the undergraduate level. Employers in private industry generally seek individuals with a master's degree in business administration or a related discipline. Individuals hired straight out of school with only a bachelor's degree generally work as research associates, but find it difficult to advance up the career ladder unless they get an advanced degree. Most government agencies hire people with a bachelor's degree and no work experience as entry level management analysts, and often pay for graduate classes in management analysis.
Many fields of study provide a suitable educational background for this occupation because of the diversity of problem areas addressed by management analysts and consultants. These include most areas of business and management, as well as computer and information sciences and engineering.
Management analysts and consultants who are hired directly from school may participate in formal company or government training programs. Such programs often include instruction on policies and procedures, computer systems and software, research processes, and management practices and principles. Analysts and consultants routinely attend conferences to keep abreast of current developments in their field.
Many entrants to this occupation have, in addition to the appropriate formal education, several years of experience in management or in another specialization. The value of this experience enables many to land mid-level positions.
Management analysts and consultants often work with little or no supervision, so they should be self-motivated and disciplined. Analytical skills, the ability to get along with a wide range of people, strong oral and written communication skills, good judgment, the ability to manage time well, and creativity in developing solutions to problems are other desirable qualities for prospective management analysts and consultants.
In large consulting firms, beginners usually start as a researcher for a consulting team. The team is responsible for the entire project and each consultant is assigned to a particular area. As consultants gain experience, they may be assigned to work on one specific project full-time, taking on more responsibility and managing their own hours. At the senior level, consultants may supervise entry level workers and become increasingly involved in seeking out new business. Those with exceptional skills may eventually become a partner or principal in the firm. Others with entrepreneurial ambition may open their own firm.
A high percentage of management consultants are self-employed, partly because business start-up costs are low. Self-employed consultants also can share office space, administrative help, and other resources with other self-employed consultants or small consulting firms-thus reducing overhead costs. Many such firms fail, however, because of an inability to acquire and maintain a profitable client base.
The Institute of Management Consultants (a division of the Council of Consulting Organizations, Inc.) offers the Certified Management Consultant (CMC) designation to those who pass an examination and meet minimum levels of education and experience. Certification is not mandatory for management consultants to practice, but it may give a jobseeker a competitive advantage.
Employment of management analysts and consultants is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2005 as industry and government increasingly rely on outside expertise to improve the performance of their organizations. Growth is expected in large consulting firms, but also in small consulting firms whose consultants will specialize in specific areas of expertise.
Increased competition has forced American industry to take a closer look at its operations. As international and domestic markets become more competitive, firms must use what resources they have more efficiently. Management consultants are being increasingly relied upon to help reduce costs, streamline operations, and develop marketing strategies. As businesses downsize and eliminate needed functions as well as permanent staff, consultants will be used to perform those functions that were previously handled internally. Businesses attempting to expand, particularly into world markets, frequently need the skills of management consultants to help with organizational, administrative, and other issues. Continuing changes in the business environment also are expected to lead to demand for management consultants. Firms will use consultants to incorporate new technologies, to cope with more numerous and complex government regulations, and to adapt to a changing labor force. As businesses rely more on technology, there are increasing roles for consultants with a technical background, such as engineering or biotechnology, particularly when combined with an MBA.
Federal, State, and local agencies also are expected to expand their use of management analysts. In the era of budget deficits, analysts' skills at identifying problems and implementing cost reduction measures are expected to become increasingly important. However, because almost one-half of the management analysts employed by the Federal Government work for the Department of Defense, Federal employment growth will increase slowly because of cutbacks in the Nation's defense budget.
Despite projected rapid employment growth, competition for jobs as management consultants is expected to be keen in the private sector. Because management consultants can come from such diverse educational backgrounds, the pool of applicants from which employers hire is quite large. Additionally, the independent and challenging nature of the work combined with high earnings potential make this occupation attractive to many. Job opportunities are expected to be best for those with a graduate degree and some industry expertise.
Because many small consulting firms fail each year for lack of managerial expertise and clients, those interested in opening their own firm must have good organizational and marketing skills, plus several years of consulting experience.
Salaries for management analysts and consultants vary widely by experience, education, and employer. In 1994, those who were wage and salary workers had median annual earnings of about $41,300. The middle 50 percent earned between $30,000 and $53,900.
In 1994, according to the Association of Management Consulting Firms (ACME), earnings-including bonuses and/or profit sharing-for research associates in ACME member firms averaged $30,400; for entry level consultants, $41,800; for management consultants, $58,300; for senior consultants, $89,200; for junior partners, $120,100; and for senior partners, $194,000.
Typical benefits for salaried analysts and consultants include health and life insurance, a retirement plan, vacation and sick leave, profit sharing, and bonuses for outstanding work. In addition, all travel expenses usually are reimbursed by the employer. Self-employed consultants usually have to maintain their own office and provide their own benefits.
Management analysts and consultants collect, review, and analyze data; make recommendations; and assist in the implementation of their ideas. Others who use similar skills are managers, computer systems analysts, operations research analysts, economists, and financial analysts.
Information about career opportunities in management consulting is available from:
ACME, The Association of Management Consulting Firms, 521 Fifth Ave., 35th Floor, New York, NY 10175-3598.
For information about a career as a State or local government management analyst, contact your State or local employment service.
Persons interested in a management analyst position in the Federal Government can obtain information from:
U.S. Office of Personnel Management, 1900 E St. NW., Washington, DC 20415.
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