The Difference between Strategy, Implementation, and Tech Consulting

There are many different types of management consulting, and with this come a myriad of misconceptions. Three of the most common types of consulting are strategy, implementation, and tech consulting. Do you know the differences between them?

We’ve heard of people applying for an implementation role and realizing later that it’s completely different from strategy consulting. In order to help you avoid painful discoveries like this, let’s break these terms down.

What is Strategy Consulting?

Strategy consulting is the most well-known segment inside of consulting, although it is by far the smallest. Strategy consultants work on the most pressing business issues (i.e., revenue growth, cost-cutting, M&A) for companies, often working directly with the CEO’s office. They help answer the hypothetical question “What should we do?”.

In strategy consulting, you get broad industry exposure and the chance to solve different kinds of business problems, which is a big pull for aspiring consultants. In addition, strategy consulting offers incredible exit opportunities. Many strategy consultants, especially those from McKinsey, Bain, and BCG, leave to help run Fortune 500 companies, to lead non-profit organizations, or even to go into politics.

What is Implementation Consulting?

Implementation consultants do the work of implementing strategy that has already been decided on. Implementation consulting often involves creating operating structures to help clients reach their goals. Implementation consultants help answer the hypothetical question “How should we do this?”

One note: Implementation consulting is not the same as operations consulting. Operations consulting, when executed as it should be, is very similar to strategy consulting. The difference is that operations consultants advise on a different part of the business than strategy consultants.

Implementation consulting isn’t devoid of problem-solving, however. No strategy adequately forecasts every on-the-ground scenario. So, while implementation consultants use the overall strategy as a guide, they iterate in real-time to ensure an effective real-world solution.

Implementation consultants often help companies implement new systems or special projects. The work is very involved in the day-to-day processes of running a business. As an implementation consultant, you won’t do all the work yourself, but you will oversee large, complex projects. If you like to see the impact of your work, implementation consulting may be for you!

What is Tech Consulting?

Tech consulting (not to be confused with IT consulting) generally involves a lot of process analysis and is very operational in nature. Projects tend to be long-term in nature, and although you are solving different kinds of problems, the work can be very repetitive. Tech consultants answer the hypothetical question “What technology will enable us to do this?”

In addition, because of the nature of the work, transitioning to a strategy firm out of a career in tech is difficult. Keep that in mind as you consider your long-term career goals.

Conclusion

Still not sure which consulting path – strategy, implementation, or tech consulting – is the right fit for you? Book a 30min session with an MBB consultant to get clarity. And if you need help breaking into consulting, join our Black Belt prep program.

Filed Under: Consulting Firms, Where do I Start?