Perhaps the most prevalent model in technology consulting is the Consulting Company Staff Model. In this model, the consultant is an employee of a service company whose business is to provide consultants to their customers. Contracts are written between the consulting company and the client company and may not include the names of the specific consultants who will provide consulting services.
Consulting companies build a set of client references which they use to promote themselves within the industry and to prospective clients. The consulting company typically employs people who have a range of capabilities and who cover many different disciplines. These companies potentially have entry level consulting positions that are filled by trainees or by people who are new to the consulting profession. They also have employees who have intermediate skills as well as employees who may be the most skilled in the world in particular areas of technology.
Smaller consulting companies typically have employees who have broad skills. The reason for that is because the company needs that flexibility to be competitive. A base of employees who have broad skills allows small companies to fit into a wider range of projects. Small companies may also have consultants with the most outstanding skills in particular areas of technology but they have a strong need to have consultants with broad skills.
Smaller companies may be more susceptible to changes in the business climate but they may also provide a more integrated and personalized environment in which the consultant works. The level of bureaucracy is generally much lower in smaller companies but the tendency may also be for these companies to be managed in a hands-on, autocratic manner.
Larger consulting companies typically have more employees who specialize in specific areas of technology. These companies can support highly specialized skills because they have more business and more projects where their consultants can be assigned. It is easier to fit employees with specialized skills into projects as the number of projects to be staffed increases and as the size of the consulting company increases.
Bureaucracy tends to increase as the size of consulting companies increase. This same tendency could be true as the size of any company increases. These companies may tend to operate under strict rules that dictate how managers act under different situations. The ability of managers to use judgment in a given situation may go down as company size increases. A mentality of ‘by the book’ can develop and managers may refuse to take any action that is not specifically described in the manuals of the company.
Some consultants feel that larger companies have a more impersonal approach to employees due to bureaucracy.
Large and small consulting companies and all sizes in between operate under Model II. Companies differ based upon their scale with some understandable trade offs between companies and company sizes. Consultants and prospective consultants should educate themselves about the differences and can make an informed decision about the exact characteristics of the companies where they work or where they aspire to work.