There are a number of ways to segment the consultancy market but the six categories below are used quite commonly. Type M firms represent the pure management consultancy firms whilst the other 5 categories represent different blends of expertise.

  • Type M – Firms that offer pure management consulting only, including management consulting services (strategy, human resources, change management, programme management, financial management, operations, business process re-engineering, economic and environmental consulting, marketing and corporate communications, and outsourcing advice), but not IT consulting.
  • Type A – Management consulting, accounting, tax and corporate advisory firms. The leaders here are the ‘Big Four’: Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PWC, all of which are included in this report. Some ‘second tier’ accounting firms also offer management consulting services.
  • Type I – Management and IT consulting firms that provide both pure management and IT consulting; some also carry out systems development work (primarily programming).
  • Type E – Management and engineering consulting firms that share a common heritage in civil engineering and project management. Most are relatively new entrants to the management consulting market.
  • Type O – Management consulting and outsourcing firms. There is a small minority of firms that offer a combination of general management consulting services plus outsourcing/managed services.
  • Type C – Combined management consulting, IT systems development and outsourcing/managed services firms. The very biggest players in the consulting industry – notably Accenture and IBM Global Business Services – offer a full range of services from consulting through to delivering a managed service. Some firms, such as TATA Consultancy Services and Infosys Consulting, have entered the consulting market as a result of their outsourcing services; others, such as Accenture, have moved in the opposite direction, developing outsourcing services to complement their existing consulting practice.

The MCA’s Industry Insight Centre provides a wealth of useful information about the consultancy marketplace.

Once you have an understanding of how the market splits up then you need to map that against the type of consultancy service you are buying. The table below shows one way of defining different types of consultancy service. It is not an exact science, but this is a workable baseline for buyers to use if their organisation does not already have something similar in place.