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BUSN12004 Strategy into Action

Consultancy and
How to write a Consultancy Report

Professor Robert Smith
Lecture Overview

To provide an overview of different types of

consultancy projects / income streams.
Document the main sections required in a typical
consultancy report.
Align these sections to the module assignment.
Illustrate alternative formats.
Highlight examples of good consultancy reports.
Explore the literature of consultancy.
What is a Management Consultant?
A consultant is a person who provides professional or
expert advice in a particular field of science or business to
either a company. No formal qualifications are required.
Despite this broad definition three characteristics
distinguish a consultant from other professions/ individuals.
o A consultant provides expertise that a client lacks or support that a
client is unable to fulfil. A consultant receives a management fee.
o A consultant operates independently from the client, implying
there is no conflict of interests between the client and consultant.
o A consultant operates in a professional manner; has the right
qualifications; ensures high quality service delivery; preserves
knowledge leadership; and maintains professional operational
Understanding Management Consultancy
Management Consultancy takes many forms and entails
developing a client-patron relationship.

See Sadler (2001) for an overview of the Consultancy

Industry. From an academic perspective pay particular
cognisance to chapter 3 relating to definitions and structure.
Also read ch 5 The Client-Consultant Relationship.

Consultants operate to a code of professional conduct

Always meet the Clients Requirements.

Act with Integrity, Independence and Objectivity.

Act responsibly to the Profession.

The Consultancy Process
See Newton (2010) for a basic overview of the
Management Consultancy Process from a practical
See OMahoney & Markham, (2013) fore a more
detailed discussion.
Alternatively, see Biggs (2010) for a succinct overview.
A Consultant must Add Value either experientially or
Beware of Charlatans in the industry and develop your
experience, CV and Portfolio. The term 'consultant' does
not have a legal status as a profession.
Different Types of Management Consultancy

Business Gurus (William Baumol and Manfred F R Kets de


Management Consultants (Subject Topic Specialists).

Strategy Consultants
Operations Consultants
Financial Advisory
Human Resource Consultants
IT Consultants
Change Management Consultants.

Family Business Consultants.

Forensic Consultancy.

Coaches / Mentors e.g. Life Coaches.

A Typology of Management Consultants
The approach distinguishes between five main types of consultants within management consulting
Management Consultancy Some Basics
In management consultancy you are contracted by a
client for your management and knowledge skills.
You must develop people and communication skills.
You are expected to add value by providing a
knowledge base or skill the client does not have time or
the expertise for.
The client expects a practical work focused approach.
They do not expect an academic treatise - its not about
how clever you are but there must be an underpinning of
theory to back up the practical.
Ask for a clear brief from the client.
Academic Consultancy
This is a different form of consultancy where you are
contracted by a client for your academic skills.
The client is securing your services as an academic.
To write a literature review or develop a conceptual model on a
complex management scenario.
To apply a methodological approach to a real life situation.
To conduct focus groups or Delphi or other academic practice.
Client Reports must be academic but accessible.
Contract Research for client usually as a result of a
call for vendors /bid process.
Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) are a
commercial income generating vehicle.
Alignment with the Assessment
Alignment With Assignment / Assesment
The assignment consists of an individual report totalling
6000 words (See Module Handbook).
Part 1 A Practical Consultancy Report = 4,000 words
Part 2 A Report of 2,000 words laying out the theoretical
underpinning (Assessed).
You will work in Action Learning Sets to nuance your
knowledge but the report Must be your own work.
For part 1 you must choose a scenario which involves a
strategic change situation, research it, and apply models
from the module to demonstrate understanding of how to
apply theory in practice. Use theory sparingly but
include several references relating to the models used.
For part 2 you must critically discuss how the theory
helped underpin practice.
Some practical considerations for selecting the
strategic change scenario
Choose a Strategic Change Scenario from personal
experience or knowledge.
A Scenario differs from a Case. The latter is a holistic
overview whereas the former is a nuanced strand.
Dictionary Definition of scenario:
A description of possible actions or events in the future. action
designed to achieve a long term or overall aim.
An imagined, or projected, sequence of events, especially any of
several detailed plans or possibilities.
Choose a scenario that is in the public domain that will
enable you to research it using documentary research.
Read up on how to write a consultancy report.
How to Write a Consultancy Report
Writing Consultancy Reports
Remember there is not one universal format of writing
consultancy reports. One size does not fit all.
What is expected in a consultancy report varies across
industry sectors and academic disciplines. A consultancy
report for a social enterprise would differ from that
required by a corporation.
However, there are commonly recognised formats and
templates which can be adapted.
The consultancy brief and subject topic may dictate the
need for additional sections.
ABC Rule Write with Accuracy, Brevity and Clarity.
Writing Consultancy Reports (cont)

Writing Consultancy Reports is a specialised Academic

Writing skill which many academics find difficult to

Learn to write Executive Summaries.

They should be practical documents which act as a

template and are easy to apply in workplaces.

They should allude to theory but not be populated by

Generic Issues

The report should be client centered = not consultant

Make a plan of research and the organisation of the
Use headings and sub-headings generously to aid your
client to read and understand the report.
Headings help you to reinforce the organization of the
Remember to proof read the report. This is best done by
someone other than the author.
For an example of a Consultancy report layout see
example on Moodle.
General Questions to be asked / points to consider
Do not use a standard template structure that poorly reflects an
individual clients brief.
It is all too easy to forget to change the company name or to leave out
a vital piece of client-specific information.
Emphasise key points and messages, count words and do a grammar /
punctuation check.
Avoid jargon and businessese - companies hire people so keep it
Read the material at
Handle copy and paste techniques with extreme care.
Ask and answer the following questions:-
What information does the client expect?
With what level of detail?
How much knowledge do they already have?
What will they use the report for?
General Outline / Template of Consulting Reports
A standard Consultancy Report may contain the following sections:-
- Cover Page
- Disclaimer Page
- Personal Disclaimer
- Title Page
- Table of Contents
- Executive Summary
- Introduction to the Report
- Problem, Scope or Client Brief
- Methodology (if appropriate).
- Background
- Client Profile
- Nature and History of the Firm (including The Firm Today / The Business and
Market Environment / The Competition / Defining the Firms Objectives / Defining
the Teams Tasks / Carrying out the Teams Tasks.
- Conclusions, and Recommendations
- Summary Conclusion
- References / Bibliography
- Appendices & Visuals
Cover Page

Covers are usually printed on heavy, flexible paper

called cover stock. This protects document.
The cover should contain the title of the report plus
relevant extra information.
It should contain details of authors / sub-
contractors etc.
It should present the company logo, and list the
date of the final submission of the report.
Visuality is important for PDF / web based copies.
Professionality of presentation is paramount.
The Disclaimer Page
A disclaimer is a statement that the company or organization
uses to limit its liability for the product or service provided.
It is intended to limit any bad advice or research you provide to
your clients.
Disclaimer statements are fairly typical in consulting projects
and reflect the seriousness of writing at a professional level.
There can be a great deal of professional/financial reputation/risk
at stake.
So ensure your writing and research processes mirror this.
A standard disclaimer reads as follows This material is based
upon work supported by [Name of Institution]. Any opinions,
findings, conclusions, or recommendations are those of the
authors and do not reflect the views of [institution, its employees
or its administration].
Title Page
The title page of a formal report supports the cover page to
provide a sound introduction to the consulting report.
It creates a sense of permanence / gravitas.
It will be filed and periodically reviewed and consulted.
Therefore, the title must include specific information
regarding the report including - Names of the authors or
other contributors / Contact information / and The name of
the organization.
A robust and specific title that reflects, as much as
possible, the main points of the report [Avoid clever puns].
The name of the client / business or organization.
Table of Contents
A table of contents serves three purposes by helping readers
(1) who do not want to read the whole report but want to
easily locate particular parts of it. (2) It assists readers who
want an overview of the reports scope and contents before
they begin reading it in its entirety. (3) It acts as a tool for
writers of the report by outlining specific aspects that need to
be addressed.
You must create the table of contents by outlining section
titles and headings. Cut and paste from section headings.
This ensures that the table of contents reflects the
organization of the report and enables your readers to easily
locate specific pieces of information.
Use a standard superstructure or boilerplate template.
Executive Summary
An executive summary is designed to brief the busy person
who, at least initially, does not intend to read the entire
It states the main points of each section and emphasizes
results, conclusions, and recommendations, usually in one to
three pages.
Executive summaries are ideally suited to the needs of
readers who are seeking advice about a decision or a course
of action.
For the purposes of this project, the executive summary
should be no more than two pages.
An ES assists in the writing process by providing focus but
requires to be revisited at the end of the writing process to
accurately reflect the contents.
Introduction to the Report
The introduction allows your readers to preview the nature of the project.
The introduction forecasts the basic organization of the report.
Address the following questions:-
What is the problem or the opportunity? Be specific. Quantify and describe
the problem or opportunity.
What is the purpose of the proposal? Be specific. It is not always obvious.
What is the background of the problem or the opportunity? Demonstrate
your understanding of the relationships or events affecting the solution.
What are your sources of information? Review the relevant literature,
including internal reports, memos, external public articles, or books. Good reports
always contain complete and thorough research.
What is the scope of your proposal? If appropriate, indicate what you are
proposing to do and what you will not do.
What is the organization of the proposal?
What are the key terms that will be used in the proposal? Provide a glossary
of any new, specialised, or unusual terms. Define terms. Acknowledge anyone
who has provided assistance.

Not all clients will necessarily be competent in your field, so the

background section needs to clearly articulate the context behind
your research. It must report comprehensive research. All
suggestions must be based on the research, There are several
generic Background Sections.
A brief introduction that explains how the background sections
help to key frames of reference for your analysis.
Open each section with an introductory preview of the material.
Each section must be properly concluded.
Ensure all of the sections are linked and contribute.
List resources used.
Clients Profile

The purpose of the Client Profile is to bring the client to life

and to tie the information together by explaining how it helps
portray your client as a member of the business community.
Interpret information and to draw conclusions.
Do a profile of the group as a whole.
Include the following in the Client Profile:
Places of residence
Educational and training background
Career experience
Civic interests and activities
How and why your client became interested in this business
Your clients business philosophy and/or attitude towards
Any other information that contributes to a portrait of your
The Main Body of the Text

The actual sections and content of the main body of the

report vary considerably according to the type and purpose
of the report.

In this scenario the content is at your discretion.

Read the text books to establish what element of a report are

required for a general consultancy report.
Summary / Conclusions

Conclusions and Recommendations

A conclusion summarises and draws all arguments to a close.
It is an opportunity to reflect back on the research.
Use language which point your reader back to the research
This final section pulls the report together, offers some words of
assurance to the client
In pulling the report together, carefully summarize your
findings and what you see as the prospects for your clients
Bibliography / References

A bibliography is a collection of references / sources

which A contributed to the project. Not all need to be
cited in the text.
References all must be included.
Remember to proof read the references too. This is
best done by someone other than the author.
In the consultancy report use references sparingly but
make them count.
Appendices / Visuals
An appendix contains material at the end of a formal report which is
useful but not essential information for the client.
They could include complete statistical readouts, copies of surveys
and questionnaires, reprints of helpful articles, or excerpts from book
length resources, brochures, copies of letters, etc.
The appendix should reflect the amount of research conducted.
Be careful not to overdo it - If it is too voluminous, clients may
simply refuse to read it.
Make sure that materials are also referenced in the text of the report.
Used properly, visuals effectively reinforce the main points of the
written text. Visuals should complement, not replace, key discussion
in the reports text.
Well positioned visuals provide a strong image for your readers.
Remember to direct your readers attention to it. Call it out.
Tell readers what you want them to see, and
how you read / interpret the data.
References (How to Books)

Sadler, P. (2001). Management Consultancy: A Handbook for

Best Practice. London: Kogan Page.

Newton, R. (2010). Management Consultant: Mastering the

Art of Consultancy. Financial Times / Prentice Hall.

Biggs, D. (2010). Management Consulting: A Guide for

Students. Cengage Learning.

OMahoney, J. & Markham, C. (2013). Management

Consultancy. OUP Oxford