Operations consulting is the process of assisting various types of businesses to assess the current status of internal procedures and strategies, and enhance the overall operation of the company. While operations consulting is often thought to focus on manufacturing plants or production facilities, the scope of operations consulting is actually broader than that. Even businesses that are service-based rather than product-based can benefit from operations consulting.
An operations consultant will normally begin the evaluation process by examining the workflow structure of the business. This begins with the structure and division of labor among the management of the company and moves on to the various divisions and departments and how they relate to one another in order to ultimately supply customers with goods or services. The idea is to understand how each component of the business currently impacts that process, directly or indirectly.
Once the consultant has a firm grasp on how things are done currently, as well as the reasons behind those procedures and organizational structures, he or she can begin to offer advice on how to enhance various operational functions. This involves noting existing procedures and strategies that serve the interests of the company very well, while also noting areas where there is room for improvements that would enhance the already strong points of the operation. Often, this is one of the most difficult portions of the operations consulting process, as the client may resist some or all of the ideas presented by the consultant.
After coming to a consensus on what must be done, the next phase of operational consulting is usually implementation of the changes determined to be necessary. Here, consultants may be actively or passively involved in the process. The consultant may remain present for the duration of the implementation process, offering advice and assistance along the way. In other cases, the consultant may remain available to the client but not be involved in the day to day implementation of the changes.
A professional who offers the services of operations consulting to clients may choose to specialize in certain types of businesses or to take on clients in a wide range of industries. Depending on the needs of the client, the task of operations consulting may focus only on particular areas of the company, such as evaluating and refining the relationship between inventory maintenance and the shipping department. Generally, consultants will provide a schedule of fees based on the needs of the client and the amount of time that he or she anticipates will be required for evaluation and implementation of the enhancements.