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Q2. What is the role consultants play in the strategic planning and management process of a company? Is it an essential role?

Ans:- Management consultants can play very useful roles in the strategic planning process of a company.
Consultants render services in different functional areas of management including the strategic planning and management process. In companies with no separate planning division or unit, consultants can fill that gap. They can undertake planning and strategy exercises as and when the company management feels the need for such exercises or consultancies. Even in companies with a corporate planning division/unit, consultants may provide specialized inputs or insights into identified management or strategy areas. Top strategic consultants like McKinsey & Company use or develop latest tools, techniques or models to work out solutions to specific strategic management problems or issuesbe it productivity, cost efficiency, restructuring, long-term growth or diversification. Consultants bring with them diversified skills (most of the consulting companies are multidisciplinary) and experience from various companies which may not be available internally in a single company. This is the reason why even large multinational companies hire consultants for achieving their goals or objectives. There are many international consultants who are in demand in different countries. There are also national consultants. Leading international consultants, in addition to McKinsey & Company, are Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Arthur D Little and Accenture (formerly Anderson Consulting). Prominent Indian consulting companies are A F Ferguson, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and ABC Consultants. Consultants, sometimes have a difficult or delicate role to play. In many companies, a situation develops when the chief executive or the top management needs to bank upon the support of an external agency like a consultant to push through a strategic change in the organizational structure or management system of the company. It may be for growth and development or downsizing. In both cases, many companies face internal resistance to change. The resistance is more if it is downsizing even when it is required for turning around a company. This happens particularly in public sector companies where implementing change is always difficult. Consultants are engaged to support or substantiate the companys point of view (in the form of their recommendations) so that change is more easily acceptable to the internal stakeholders of the company. Consultants role may become delicate and, sometimes, tricky in such cases, and they should carefully weigh the ethical implication of their participation.