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Professionals seeking increased work-schedule flexibility and more professional autonomy are often drawn to consulting. With so many business consultants in the marketplace, it can be hard to narrow down a specific niche. One specialty area that is growing in demand is business analysis. Being able to interpret current business trends into strategic company goals is a powerful skill to utilize amid a constantly changing and ever-expanding global economy. If you are considering a career move into the area of business consulting, consider the following:
1. Skills and Education
While consultants often have a diversified background, identifying a niche and setting yourself apart from competitors is a popular way to gain word-of-mouth referrals and build brand recognition. For professionals with a four-year baccalaureate degree in a business-related field,
professional mentoring in a specific area
of expertise can augment other professional experience and/or internships. There are a number of reputable professional organizations that offer a variety of career development opportunities. In addition to networking, busy professionals can also build an area of expertise through rigorous online business analyst training. Respectable online courses are often taught by industry leaders who bring their own experiences and practical knowledge to the virtual classroom. The go-at-your-own pace of online education makes it a popular choice among working professionals with busy family lives.
2. Soft Skills
In order to be a successful and popular consultant, clients need to like you, trust your services and be willing to refer you to others. Mastering a wide range of successful communication skills goes beyond just writing effective business letters. Understanding the needs and expectations of clients also involves anticipating the amount of communication necessary, as well as understanding when to pick up a phone vs. sending an email. Personality and tone of inter-personal interactions make a big difference in consulting relationships.
3. Understanding a Company’s Basic Need
An executive or company is going to bring a consultant on board anticipating a positive ROI. Consultants who bring a creative problem-solving style to the table can leverage team cooperation. Consultants trained in business analysis understand that streamlining processes, improving inter-department communication and strengthening the IT tools that track profitability all play a key role in securing an aggressive success strategy. Setting goals and bringing all key stakeholders together in the day-to-day shift that needs to happen to secure the ROI takes knowledge, skill, experience and patience. For this reason, the top business analysts are generally well-seasoned professionals who continually invest in professional development to maintain the competitive edge.
4. Other Considerations
Business analyst training is one way to secure the knowledge needed to become a successful business consultant. Seeking professional mentoring through a formal career-related organization is another popular way to gain the nuances of the field. For young professionals who know that consulting is their ultimate career goal, seeking internships while in college at larger consulting firms may open the door to an entry-level job where shadowing the best of the best becomes one of the most rewarding perks of the job.
Many mid-career business managers are enticed into consulting for greater flexibility and enjoy the process of establishing a niche or specialty area through additional education in areas like business analysis. Seeking partnership with another consultant with complementary skills may also be a great strategy to increase initial client pool. With the growing demands on business to do more with less while increasing triple bottom-line effectiveness, consultants with expertise in business analysis are well aligned to meet the current needs of businesses across industry. Corporate leaders seek top consultants to offer the skills, guidance and strategies to secure the competitive edge in today’s global marketplace; being well-prepared with a success strategy of your own is the best way to secure notoriety in your niche.
In today’s rapidly evolving global marketplace, many business owners are looking for ways to increase organizational effectiveness while expanding services and diversifying product offerings. A strong information technology (IT) framework can facilit
ate better business. The challenge is that in a fast-paced business environment, the technology an organization started with may not be meeting today’s needs. At the same time, as an organization grows, it is not uncommon for new technology to create problems when business leaders attempt to blend products that were never designed with compatibility in mind.
In addition to this challenge, with a piece-meal approach to technology, efficiency and effectiveness is often compromised leaving employees and customers frustrated. In a cut-throat global marketplace, the technology that supports a company’s evolution needs to be responsive and effective in order for the organization to maintain a competitive advantage. The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) offers a best practice set of strategic frameworks from which to build service-minded processes that increase the effectiveness of organizational synergy.
ITIL was recently overhauled in 2011 and is gaining renewed accolades for its value to businesses that are committed to staying on the cutting edge. Today’s ITIL training and certification courses cover five main areas and provide a standard of best practice protocol for addressing international business needs.
1. Service Strategy
Through integrating all areas of a company’s technology, skilled IT professionals can gain insight into ways to improve an organization’s effectiveness. When a manager can make strategic connections between departments, such as ordering/receiving and customer service, processes can be streamlined, and protocol can be adjusted to maximize profits.
When the processes that govern a business’ service allocations are looked at strategically in the context of a comprehensive ITIL, then the whole organization can benefit. ITIL frameworks offer businesses a way to structure their service processes in a way that can evolve responsively with changing market needs and company expansion.
2. Service Design
Great business leaders know that continued education, ongoing participation in professional organizations and keeping abreast of recent market trends promote executive longevity. Even the best leader is only as strong as the organization that he or she is leading. For this reason, IT professionals who help implement ITIL bring a powerful set of tools to the organization. When the IT infrastructure is designed to facilitate all areas of service and to interface intelligently with all divisions of the company, then IT itself becomes a partner in corporate growth and success.
Setting metrics in place to track the parameters that can promote growth and profitability is a strategic tool that large businesses and governmental agencies have been utilizing since ITIL’s early development two decades ago. As technology improved and the Internet became a ubiquitous business tool, ITIL developed accordingly, and today ITIL is stronger and more powerful than ever before.
3. Service Operation
Today’s business day never truly ends. With partners, clients and suppliers around the world, a company’s IT needs to be consistently responsive; internationally available and structurally efficient in order to keep up with global expansion, stay relevant or become obsolete. If clients cannot get the service, response or product needed in a time they see as appropriate, not only will they go somewhere else, but they may also use the Internet to review your company negatively.
An effective ITIL setup strategy anticipates and responds to indicators such as supply chain delays and can assist a company in trouble-shooting pre-emptively, which allows for flexible solutions. When all layers of your service operations are coordinated and connected to all other divisions, a powerful array of data can be collected, tracked and strategically examined. This powerful use of IT can be used to improve inter-departmental communication, mitigate supply chain inconsistencies and improve customer relations.
4. Service Transition
Companies are constantly evolving. ITIL can assist executives with the task of implementing new strategies or services without disrupting existing services. With the assistance of a certified ITIL professional, organizational leaders can implement growth strategies into the company’s IT tools and roll out changes without affecting customer service in negative ways. When an IT department is designed with the knowledge that growth and change will occur, then a best-practice system is put into place to support company development. ITIL professionals understand that smooth transitions are profitable transitions and they help create an infrastructure that supports short-term and long-term strategic development.
5. Continual Service Improvement
Perhaps now more than ever before, business organizations need to leverage continual improvements to gain better brand recognition and increased profitability. A well-constructed ITIL infrastructure is responsive and versatile. Through monitoring a variety of data, leaders can make midstream adjustments that are necessary for responding to rapidly changing market trends in today’s volatile economy. As business competition expands worldwide, savvy leaders need the best tools possible to create IT support structures that have far-reaching applications and can be adapted as fast as the competition shifts.
It is not enough to have a great product or excellent service. The way services and products are managed, promoted and marketed demands an IT structure that can keep track of the progress and can be used to anticipate and mitigate challenges. While ITIL training is an investment, the knowledge gained is a powerful, long-term tool that has the potential to greatly increase organizational effectiveness and profitability. In today’s rapidly changing and highly competitive global environment, securing a strong ITIL infrastructure is one strategy elite executives are utilizing to leverage increased market power and long-term profitability.