An outsider’s perspective can be an invaluable asset to an organization, especially in today’s uncertain economic climate. So when it comes time to strategize for a merger, invest in R&D or implement a competitive cost structure, it’s no wonder that companies are increasingly turning to management consulting firms—so much so that the U.S. consultancy market grew 7.1%, to $58.72 billion in 2016. But when there are thousands of firms, each with different areas of expertise, how can a business find a consultancy that best suits its needs?
Forbes partnered with market research company Statista to simplify this search by producing our annual ranking of America’s best management consulting firms. The list is divided into 16 sectors—from aerospace and defense to financial institutions—and 16 functional areas, including strategy, sustainability and digital transformation.
To create the list, Statista surveyed 7,500 partners and executives of management consultancies, as well as 1,000 senior executives who had worked with such firms over the last four years. Respondents were asked to recommend consultancies across the predetermined sectors and functional areas; self-nominations were not considered. Statista then identified the firms with the highest number of recommendations and organized them into star ratings: five stars for “very frequently recommended,” four stars for “frequently recommended” and three stars for “recommended.” A total of 229 management consulting firms made the final ranking.
Tied for the most recommendations are Bain & Company and Deloitte Consulting. Both firms were nominated in all 32 sectors and functional areas, with Boston-based Bain earning five-star ratings in the areas of strategy, sustainability and mergers and acquisitions. The cross-industry insights Bain’s consultants have gleaned from working with a wide range of organizations gives the firm an edge in the marketplace, says partner Keith Bevans. “What’s new for a lot of companies—the make-or-break merger, bet on the product launch, digital investment—that’s the type of thing we’ve helped hundreds of companies solve,” he says. “There is value in having someone at the table who understands the problem.”
Deloitte Consulting CEO Janet Foutty agrees, noting that her firm’s expertise across an array of services is often what brings clients in the door. “Our clients are going through huge disruption,” she says. “They want deeper, long-term support.” But it’s Deloitte’s people, she insists, that keep clients coming back for more—and earned the New York-headquartered firm 20 five-star ratings, the most of any consultancy on the list. “We work very hard in our culture to never get comfortable or complacent, telling the clients what they want to hear instead of what they should hear,” says Foutty. “There is a level of trust with clients from a true partnering perspective that I believe is unique in and around the market.”
Making gains on Deloitte is Accenture, which received recommendations in 31 sectors and functional areas, including 17 five-star ratings, Richard Lumb, CEO of the firm’s financial services division, attributes the firm’s high performance to its focus on the intersection of business and technology. The Dublin-based consultancy is constantly reinventing itself, taking minority stakes in companies like Digital Asset and 1QBit to offer clients the blockchain and quantum computing solutions they need. “We’re not your traditional consultants—we’re data scientists, we’re management scientists,” says Lumb. “People ask, ‘What keeps you awake at night?’ It’s the need to stay relevant to clients’ needs. The world is changing so fast, so we’ve got to change fast.”
Another firm with 31 nominations to its name is McKinsey & Company. Based in New York, the consultancy received 16 five-star ratings, including the list’s only top rating in the area of metals and mining. Other management consulting firms to earn the sole five-star rating in a given area include Booz Allen Hamilton (aerospace and defense), IBM Global Services(construction and infrastructure) and PricewaterhouseCoopers(sustainability).
Aside from recommendations and star ratings, there is one fundamental reason that the 229 ranked management consulting firms all find themselves on this year’s list: They embrace change. “You can’t just dust off the old playbook and run it again,” says Bevans. “You have to continue to invest, refine and improve.”
Sourced from Forbes - Written by Vicky Valet