Business consultants play an important role for any business to ensure that the business is going in the right direction. If, you are a business owner and think that your business is not moving in the right direction and with the right pace then you should consult a business consulting company. Hiring an external business consultant can bring a fresh set of ideas to evaluate the company policies and employees capability. Generally, external business consultants have a wide and varied set of skills and expertise beyond those of your own company or staff. They have the privilege of serving multiple clients in the same sector (eg, food industry, Enterprise Software) and/or serving multiple clients facing similar problems across different sectors which mean these companies can help drive your organisation with a broad experience and knowledge.
Today, there are a number of business consulting companies available locally and globally. Business consulting companies make recommendations to the mangers that are responsible for implementing the changes firstly by assessing the business. By evaluating each and every policy that is being used in the company, Business consultants work with the company employees at every level to generate some unique idea to favor the business that is ideal for the company The solution ultimately is guided by the business consultant and generated by the employee’s with an understanding of the key issues and results to aim for.
Management consultants can also be used for politically challenging situations such as job layoffs, salary and benefit changes/reduction, major operational and strategic shifts. Often short term needs of a company can also be resourceful by using management consultants who are able to apply their expertise quickly to fulfill the company’s needs.
Consulting companies and their types
The core duty of a consulting company is to offer its knowledge and expertise to boost client business. Consulting companies come with a range of expertise focused around all industries or with specialized services. The most popular consulting companies are management consulting companies which often offer a full range of business skills; and IT Consulting companies which are more specific to the technology related aspects of a company. Other more industry specific or specialized types of consulting companies may also include environmental consultants, human resource consultants, retail services consulting and even hotel management. In addition, consulting companies may come in large organisational shapes or be boutique. Large consultancies have a breadth of expertise and resources that they can offer. Boutiques often offer specialized expertise on specific dimensions. All business consulting companies however have their own approach and method to servicing a client. They may offer the services such as management training, consultation, resource assignments, advising and delivery & implementation services which may be focus ed at only on one single project or at a company level. Management training services are often also necessary in consulting projects as clients usually have to implement and maintain suggested changes.
Benefits of business consultants
Business consultants bring benefits in a number of ways. Firstly, not only do they have a varied set of experiences across varying industries, but they can apply the problems of many other businesses and help implement solutions for your business.
They can improve your business strategies to work with the maximum force by modifying simple or complex rules and processes. They can also make recommendation by understanding current regulation and policies. These companies perform a great deal of research to find a solution – time that you may not have. In addition they can manage a great deal of legal paper work and recommend the kind of manpower and equipment or tools that may be needed to grow your business. Business consultants can often provide the effective management training to your employees to reskill them into more efficient and highly skilful resources. They can also help to develop some unique marketing strategies that can attract more customers and result in revenue earning opportunities for your business.
1) Experience with focusing on the correct details of the project (SR&ED consultants possess in-depth knowledge of the government incentive program and ask your team focused, relevant questions to save your time and ensure your company receives every dollar it’s entitled to).
2) Ability to view your technological advancement from a scientific perspective to maximize your SR&ED claim. (Consultants find more qualifying work by viewing your technology from different angles including projects and supporting activities to Maximize the dollar value of your SR&ED claim).
3) Ability to communicate the process effectively. (SR&ED consultants typically have a key turning process that is streamlined to ensure a smooth process and save you time to focus on other business operations or product development. The ability to communicate the process in a methodical manner facilitates the process and makes sure that everyone is on the same page from the start).
4) Defence of your SR&ED claim: Fully supporting you in the event of an audit; reducing the possibility of a rejection. (Some SR&ED consultants will communicate with CRA auditors on your behalf to protect your SR&ED claim and provide supporting arguments if the SR&ED submission were to be challenged.)
5) Proper record keeping to support your claim. (Consultants guide you in preparing the correct supporting documentation and help you structure your SR&ED claim accordingly).
6) Proactive Time Tracking Assistance – Assisting your company with time / project management. (SR&ED consultants possess proprietary enhanced software to process your SR&ED tax credit claims, other software includes project management / time tracking software that is used to package your SR&ED submission in an efficient manner.
7) SR&ED consultants use a proven streamlined process for success and time saving. (SR&ED Consulting firms have designated staff responsible for certain tasks and milestones in the process. This is an internal systematized approach that is precise and time stamped to verify that there are not any steps missing and that the correct parties were followed up with.)
8) Industry experts that are senior SR&ED specialists can complete the technical write-up concisely and put it down on paper in a way that is consistent with the programs criteria. (CRA has reduced the character amount to ensure that only key technological advancement are included).
9) SR&ED Consultants understand the SR&ED program requirements inside – out. Some consultants have both financial and technical backgrounds. (The SR&ED is a convoluted program that involved documentation collection, a technical write-up with strong supporting arguments and a financial portion. SR&ED consultants prepare the claim for your accountant to file with your taxes).
10) Aware of all CRA SR&ED claim guidelines (It is crucial to understand the SR&ED rules and include supporting arguments that would be relevant to the advancement of technology or improvement of a process. A write-up that is irrelevant to the SR&ED criteria, for example: Business, marketing, sales advancements will most likely trigger an audit to review the whole claim as it does not focus on technology or scientific advancement. Additionally, smaller firms will follow up with CRA to facilitate the refunds).
11) Technical expertise to match your business niche. (When selecting the right SR&ED consultant for your company, you want to make sure that they specialize in your business niche and that they possess industry knowledge and experience to fully support your SR&ED claim. Assigning juniors or consultants that do not have industry knowledge/experience is detrimental to your SR&ED claim, as they may not use the correct industry jargon and be as effective at defending or providing supporting arguments).
12) Understand the language of the SR&ED program including schedule deadlines, terminology and which tax forms to use. (As with any other business, you need to understand the business and industry to be successful. It is important to interview your consultant/SR&ED service provider before choosing to file your claim. Always ask for references/testimonials and select a firm/consultant that has a proven track record.)
13) If you do not qualify for an SR&ED claim initially. Some consultants will guide you and provide advice on how to effectively prepare yourself. Furthermore, because consultation firms are connected to industry networks, they may have important strategic relationships that would help grow your business. Such insights can be provided to you as part of the service.
14) Training for your next SRED claim. (Some SR&ED consultants offer hands on training for SR&ED tax credit preparation. This includes educating your team to understand which areas are important for SR&ED and specific record keeping habits.)
15) The SR&ED program can be ambiguous with many gray areas. SR&ED consultants are focused and understand how it is applicable to your development. (The SR&ED program is not black and white. There are many unclear activities that can be considered as eligible SR&ED expenses. These are typically supporting activities to the core R&D, that you cannot do without one another.)
16) Consultants save you time to focus on product development / business operations (The amount of time you would allocate to educate your internal resources on the complexity of the program would be generally be greater than the dollar amount spent for hiring an SR&ED expert).
17) Spend less time and get larger return while freeing up internal resources. (Your development team can focus on what they do best, which is product development and maintaining their momentum is efficient as oppose to boring them with mundane, convoluted tasks, which in turn can work against you and raise flags, if completed incorrectly).
18) Preparing an SR&ED claim yourself may be inadequate or inconsistent. In most cases you are leaving money on the table and risk triggering an audit or getting flagged- SR&ED consultants provide focused results. (Relative to the point above, SR&ED consultants will not place your company in a position that would hinder your claim. In most cases – SR&ED consultants operate on contingency basis, which ultimately means that they partner up with you and are only compensated once you receive the refund. If the refund dollar amount is decreased, so would their compensation for the SR&ED preparation service.)
19) SR&ED experts avoid common mistakes such as writing technical reports that are heavily focused on new features and benefits that a new product brings to the company and is presented as a business project rather than a SR&ED project. (These mistakes cause audits & red flags with CRA) (It is crucial to only focus on technological advancements/challenges rather than business/marketing/sales or other unrelated activities).
20) Inadequate correlation between the technical reports and financial reports could also initiate a CRA review. (The financial report should be a reflection of your technical report and remain consistent in supporting your SR&ED claim).
21) Changes to SR&ED are constant – SR&ED consultants are in the loop and keep up with recent changes to the program. (CRA’s legislative changes from time to time and it is important to keep informed so that your claim reflects these changes).
22) SR&ED consultants generally use contingency fees for success and take the risk. (If your SR&ED consulting firm is unable to recoup your development costs for whichever reason(s), there is not a penny that would come out of your pocket. This protects clients and motivates the consultant(s) to work diligently).
23) Consulting firms often package your personal / corporate taxes, business consulting and other financial services as part of the SR&ED service. (Your company may find it convenient to combine financial services that includes your SR&ED claim preparation into one service provider. Some SR&ED consultants are able to provide you with a package deal which ultimately would reduce your SR&ED rate.
24) Empowerment through education – Some tax credit firms that offer SR&ED services posses a network of resources and extend education/training on how to grow/market your business/product.
25) Program is convoluted – over 70 documents, dozens of tax court of Canada rulings, unclear process (There are tons of documents to sift through to get a basic understanding of the SR&ED program.
26) Mobile: Consultants generally drive to your location for meetings (This is helpful when you are engaged in time sensitive projects. SR&ED Consultants generally make an effort to work around your schedule and some even meet after business hours).
27) Can work remotely. (The convenience of completing tasks remotely is always an advantage. Some SR&ED consultants have streamlined their process to operate remotely. This includes Skype meetings, exchanging e-mails and general conference calls for operational purposes).
28) Proven track record of successful SR&ED claims (When selecting the right SR&ED consultants to work with you, be sure to verify their credentials. This includes, testimonials and a proven track record for your industry/business niche.)
29) Presentation and overview of R&D program to your team. (SR&ED consultants will present the SR&ED program to your team so that they are aware of the process. This can be achieved prior to the work completed and is usually done during a preliminary meeting.
30) Assessment of eligible expenditures and projected SR&ED dollar amount of refund (In addition to identifying eligible SR&ED expenses, SR&ED consultants can provide a projected estimate of the dollar value of your submission, so you know the refundable amount that you can expect to receive in a form of a cheque.)
31) Preparation of tax schedules to attach to your corporate tax return (SR&ED consultants correspond your accountant(s) and will provide you with applicable tax forms. Some consultants will assist you with populating the correct fields when filing with your corporate tax returns. Other SR&ED firms file the claim for you, they have the software and submit it to CRA. )
32) Advice on the eligibility of your future projects. (Examining the potential for future projects prior to the R&D work is beneficial. SR&ED consultants can assist with structuring your claim in an organized fashion, so when it comes to filing for your SR&ED submission, the process will be streamlined and smooth).
33) Protection of confidentiality – Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA). (In the SR&ED business, it is common for SR&ED consulting firms to sign a confidentiality agreement to protect your intellectual property. Some firms even include a section in the service agreement that will automatically protect clients).
34) Introduce to other tax credits, grants and financing for some businesses – other types of government assistance. (Some clients that take advantage of government incentive programs such as SR&ED will also inquire about IRAP or other grants that will propel them to the next development phase. Make sure to inquire about other types of government assistant programs that are available. However, keep in mind that if you do acquire government assistance, the dollar amount would be deducted from your SR&ED submission).
35) Smaller SR&ED consulting firms tend to invest more in relationships and provide a hands on approach. (Larger accounting firms have a large number of clients to deal with on a daily basis. The notion of feeling like a number can be prevalent).
36) Milestone meetings – Quarterly reviews (Your SR&ED consulting firm may meet with you prior to the SR&ED submission, to help you structure your claim effectively and provide quality control in preparation to your claim. This can be extended to your company at no additional cost and as part of the service provided to you).
37) Help finding qualified projects that have failed (This is the only time of the year where you get to brag about your project failures. Failed R&D projects can certainly be claimed as part of SR&ED, so even if you were unable to overcome a technological hurdle; associated costs can be included in your SR&ED claim).
38) conduct financial and technical review to ensure that there aren’t any important factors which are missed. (Quality control of both the financial and technical write-up is conducted prior to submission. This is done to ensure that there are no red flags and that information presented is consistent with the SR&ED program criteria and your business).
39) Inform you of government deadlines (It is known that companies are overwhelmed with product development and business operations that they forget about the hard government deadline for SR&ED. Your SR&ED consultant will inform you a head of time so that you do not miss the deadline and lose out on a whole year of development.)
40) Process improvement – achieved through the optimization of SR&ED tax credit applications yields economic benefits for the industry as a whole. ( SR&ED consultants are also industry experts and are aware of efficient processes in the industry. Some consultants will provide guidance and solutions to improve business operations).
41).) Evaluation of eligibility of your projects prior to submission. (SR&ED consultants can meet with you to discuss your projects and determine eligibility. This can also be achieved via conference call with a lead developer or a technical project manager).
In the fast moving and ever changing world of IT the ability of IT Managers and Practitioners to be truly effective consultants has never been greater.
So what are the capabilities and attributes displayed by the very best IT Consultants? I believe they fall into seven categories as follows:
1. Thought Leadership
2. Client Knowledge
3. Strategic Thinking
4. Experience and Know How
5. Problem Solving
6. Relationship Management
7. Change Leadership
In looking at each of these seven key contributors to success in turn I have made the underlying assumption that the primary objective of the IT Consultant is to explore, reveal and extract the full commercial value within a client account. In other words it’s all about CLIENT INTIMACY.
1. Thought Leadership
A Thought Leader is someone or a corporate entity, recognised to be a leader in their field. The outside world determines whether an individual or an organisation is a thought leader.
Thought leadership is based on reputation. That reputation is based on the person’s or organisation’s understanding of its business, the needs of its customers, and the broader market-place in which s/he operates. Quite simply they are deemed to be pre-eminent in their area of expertise.
To be a thought leader requires a spirit of generosity – generosity of time, intelligence and knowledge. It also requires the ability to philosophise, intellectualise and think ahead in order to push the boundaries of current thinking.
Thought leaders are constantly hungry for knowledge and insights. They know where and how to find out about current best practices adopted by market-leaders. They know how to access information on emerging technologies, product/system updates and leading edge/”bleeding edge” thinking.
They use this knowledge to be a catalyst for change, to challenge current thinking and to change existing paradigms. They apply their thinking to test out new hypotheses and to draw conclusions which they share openly, frequently putting at risk their reputation.
Thought leaders know how to influence others through the use of different media to publish their thoughts. They know how to:
- Cultivate the Press
- Publish White Papers, Case Studies and Research/Survey Results
- Submit Articles via Social Networks
- Engage with Professional Groups and Communities
- Obtain high level speaking engagements at Conferences/Trade Shows
- Organise and lead Brainstorming Events
In short, thought leaders give Thought Leadership the highest priority in their lives. They see Thought Leadership as a strategic imperative and are fully committed to it. They have an unswerving belief that they can make a difference in their chosen area of expertise.
If you are going to be a Best in Class IT Consultant you must be dedicated to this task of Thought Leadership.
2. Client Knowledge
When considering the difference they can make to their client’s situation the Best in Class IT Consultant engages in “outside in” thinking. In other words they start with a full understanding of the drivers of change surrounding their client. They understand that their expertise is one of many enablers of their client’s future success and that to fully leverage that expertise they need a full understanding of the client’s market-place and the client itself.
Best in Class IT Consultants therefore take time to research the context in which they will be operating with a given client.
When it comes to the client’s market-place they make sure that they fully understand:
- The demands of its customers, now and in the future
- Competitor threats facing the client
- The threat posed by new entrants to the client’s market
- The impact of substitute products and services which could undermine the client’s business
- The power and influence that existing suppliers to the client exercise over the client
They also research and understand the drivers of change in the client’s market including:
- The Regulatory Environment
- The state of the Economy
- Social/Cultural trends
- Adoption of new and leading edge Technologies in the market-place
- The use of new routes to market being adopted by organisations in the client’s market sector
The Best in Class IT Consultant uses this external research to identify and analyse the client’s current and likely future response to these drivers of change by finding out as much as possible about the client’s:
- Current Resources
- Employee Capabilities
- Quality of Management
- Style of Leadership
- Current Values and Culture
S/he then uses this understanding of the client’s current situation and preferred future situation to identify key issues which s/he could address with IT related solutions.
Instead of starting with their technical expertise and thinking how they can work more productively with the client IN the client’s business they start with big picture thinking and spotting opportunities for helping their client to work ON the business for future success.
This Outside/In thinking versus Inside/Out thinking enables them to have far more wide reaching discussions with their client, and thereby to differentiate themselves as someone who can bring long term added value to the client’s business.
Best in Class IT Consultants see the importance of this bigger, wider, holistic approach to their client involvement.
Learn the key secret to becoming a consultant and improving your consulting practice.
When you brainstorm to make a career change to consulting, what you need to understand is not only its definition, but also the responsibilities a consultant has.
Being a consultant, you are expected to offer your skills to other people or businesses. You would be required to give suggestions, solve problems, make recommendations and provide specialized work so as to streamline the process you provide consultation for.
If you think that anyone who knows a thing or two about a certain process would be able to provide consultation, with all due respect, you are wrong.
Actually, what separates a good consultant from a bad one are passion, knowledge and drive for excellence. A person who has in-depth knowledge about the subject can only be able to provide insight into a certain process.
This is the difference, isn’t?
If you are transitioning to consulting, first you need to understand the things you should consider prior to making your first move towards your goal.
What licensing and certifications will I need?
Depending upon your expertise and profession, you may need specific certification or a license before you start providing your services. Let’s say, if you long for consulting for manufacturing and distribution companies, you need to have a license from a trusted organization or a consultant licensing platform.
Am I qualified enough to be a consultant?
Before approaching one of the consulting groups for small and medium size enterprises for license or training, what you need to do is a self-analysis. This would help you ascertain whether you hold the traits that a consultant needs to succeed or are able to provide error-free deliverables.
Do I have my long-term and short-term goals in place?
If your goals do not align with the time, energy and expertise it takes to start and maintain a consulting business, your chances get significantly lowered to make it big. Approach a consultant providing expert consulting for manufacturing and distribution companies to understand what goals you should strive for.
Here are some fields a consultant can join
To become a lean manufacturing consultant, you need to become at home on all areas related to lean manufacturing process – a process incorporated into a production process to eliminate waste, thereby ensuring efficiency.
A lean manufacturing consultant is expected to provide a good piece of advice to key decision makers in large corporations and non-profit organizations on how they can minimize or eliminate waste to attain maximum production. You can approach one of the well-known consulting groups for small and medium size enterprises to understand the nitty-gritty and get a license to start your own consulting firm.
As long as businesses need workforce, a human resource consultant will be high in demand. A human resource consultant would help a business – for example a software development company – to create essential department and hire qualified candidates as well.
A marketing consultant needs to chalk out an efficient marketing plan to help a business reach out to its targeted audience. In order to churn out such a plan, you need to be efficient enough to understand a business’ product, target audience and how an advertisement campaign of the same would be executed.
Along with this, there are a wide range of professions you can choose from to be a consultant for.
Listed below are the reasons why a company hires a consultant
A business of any size and nature needs to be backed by a consultant in order to execute every business operation in such a way that it generates positive returns.
We are providing you some of those reasons why a consultant is important to any business.
A consultant is valued for:
Expertise over the subject matter
Ability to identify the problem and rectify the same
Ability to act as a catalyst
Ability to provide much-needed objectivity
If you are longing to become a consultant, join a training session provided by the reputed consultancy firm – Group 50.