Management Consulting

of four

Management Consulting - Biggest Challenges

This article describes the biggest challenges in management consulting. Specifically, we aim to provide research regarding the biggest challenges faced today by corporate leaders — CMOs, CTOs, CIOs, and COOs. Our analysis is limited to medium- to large-sized corporations, defined by an 100 employee minimum, in Canada, and excludes sources without recent temporal relevance (examples contained within past two years). We address the largest challenges being confronted by corporate leaders in Canada through credible industry publications of survey data, and investigate how these challenges connect to corporate decision-making on hiring consulting firms. Overall, CMOs in medium- to large-sized Canadian firms have been predominantly challenged by the changes in marketing seen over the past five years. Both COOs and CTOs of Canadian corporations face major challenges in response to rapid technological change: the former are faced with decisions regarding optimal innovation and incorporation of artificial intelligence, while the latter are confronted with the implementation of associated infrastructure and security protocol for an increasingly wireless workforce. Meanwhile, Canadian CIOs reported higher-level challenges in charting business needs and expectations, including that of creating a lasting legacy for their mid- to large-sized corporations of employment. Corporations may choose to seek assistance from a consulting agency under circumstances where leaders expect to derive benefits from the unique outside perspective or specialized skills consultants typically bring.


Today’s CMOs in Canada’s mid- to large-sized corporations tend to report difficulties adjusting to radical changes in the marketing arena. In a 2017 report of over 300 Canadian CMOs, 89% reported unprecedented changes to marketing over the past five years, while 82% described experiencing an increasing pressure to transform and acquire new skills. In a report by Deloitte, this struggle is attributed to the CMO’s role growing increasingly “complex in today’s digital, always-on world”. With 71% of Canadian CMOs reporting data analytics as their most important challenge, the digital transition of the marketing field has necessitated oftentimes difficult technological adaptation on the part of CMOs.
Several other challenges were also expressed by chief marketing officers in Canadian firms. In line with more traditional marketing objectives, Walmart’s CMO emphasized the importance of creating intimate customer relationships and delivering clear brand narratives. Meanwhile, 2017 CMO research in Canada by the Impact Centre reports on a more macro-level concern: due to the acquisition of Canadian companies and resultant relocation of marketing to acquirer headquarters, Canadian firms suffer from the lack of development of “a local talent base that will enable us to solve the marketing challenges our firms face.” The continuation of this current trend would naturally impact the growth of Canadian companies, and present a challenge to the leaders of marketing departments.


SAP Canada’s Leagh Turner provided first-hand information regarding the challenges she faced as a COO in describing the necessary procedure of “understanding”, “relating”, and “translating” to internal organization dialogue (to a “relatable workforce”) in order to successfully engineer a problem’s solution. To summarize, COOs must be prepared to understand the intricacies of oftentimes confusing and complicated industry concepts and terminology. For example, SYSPRO Software describes a common business challenge facing operation leaders in how to identify and address unnecessary spending and reduce lost revenue, but stresses the difficulties due to “increasingly complex supply chains”, “rising compliance expenditures”, and “hidden costs”.
Another challenge described for COOs is evaluating the costs and benefits in addressing the “Status Quo.” [5] While not specific to Canada, an article in 2017 by the Alexander Group described four challenges faced by COOs in the law sector, most of which revolved around changes in operational leadership due to changes in technology. One COO chose to approach this challenge by framing dialogue around responsiveness without irresponsibility to new technologies and ideas. COOs may also have the responsibility to contend with adjustments to market economic and competitive landscapes being altered by advanced collaboration technology.


While technology has come to impact the role of industry leaders, it has always come with the territory for CTOs, even in this era of rapid innovation. In 2016, Rogers surveyed over 350 large- and medium-sized businesses’ technology leaders in order to assess top challenges, which mostly revolved around supporting the integration of technology in the workplace while mitigating potential risks associated with such dependence. Plans relevant to the former objective include the need to enhance mobility through the growth of wireless local area networks and development of organizational apps and data. Technologically-associated workplace risks grow increasingly prevalent due to a growing cyber-threat landscape, lack of adequate protection from traditional perimeter securities, and loss resulting from network downtime. As businesses become more reliant on new technologies, we can expect to see increasing pressure on CTOs to confront these difficulties. Like the COOs described above, CTOs must also make important decisions regarding the tension between innovation and irresponsibility. The CTO of TELUS, a top corporation in Canada, describes the conundrum using the example of autonomous car development, where despite “fantastic areas” of exploration, there remains difficulty in deciphering “is it a distraction, or is it a proof of concept?” He describes similar concerns impeding the growth and necessary investment infrastructure for 5G, despite “revolutionary” potential.


Despite CTO similarities in name and concept, Deloitte Canada’s 2017 Global CIO survey indicate that CIO report a different challenge — that of creating a lasting legacy. The survey points to a difficulty in defining both “legacy” and “business value” (which is used as a measure of “legacy”), given the significant gaps between CIO perception of value added in contrast with the business’ own stated priorities and expectations. “Savvy CIOs” are encouraged to internalize an inter-temporal mindset, evaluating not only “current business priorities and needs, but also at future business direction” as an intended destination to charter to.


Canadian corporation leaders face a wealth of challenges as they look toward a changing future. This is a future where marketing depends on data analytics, operations hinge on the innovations, and technology grows increasingly integrated with corporate infrastructure, with all the associated conveniences and potential security threats. For CMOs struggling to adapt to new marketing technologies or other industry leads lacking specialized knowledge, it may often be a good decision to bring in a consultant with some degree of specialization and skilled knowledge, at least in earlier stages to help ensure effective teaching and implementation of new technologies. This follows from the main reason to hire consultants, which is to “bring skills that your company otherwise wouldn’t have”. In fact, desired access to some specialized skill absent in-house is often cited as the “most common” reason companies hire consultants. There are other reasons why leaders in Canadian firms may choose to bring in consultants in response to difficulties faced. COOs and CIOs discuss challenges around knowing when and which innovations should be implemented versus others; oftentimes, business consultants can be useful in such decision-making by bringing “a different perspective”. This “outside eye” can oftentimes be highly valuable, particularly in the face of challenging or controversial projects easily mired in “emotions or politics.”

of four

Management Consulting - Client Perceptions

Management consultancy firms are increasingly becoming popular in the business landscape. Its marketplace is increasingly global and diverse. Globally, this is a $350 billion industry, and in Canada, a $12 billion one. Management consultants make an indispensable contribution to Canadian public and private sector organizations, and to the economy of the country.

Clients landscape
In Canada, clients come from the public(34%), private (57%) and not-for profit (9%) sectors, based on 2016 date. This shows an increase in private sector market share, which equated to 47% in 2013.
New sub-sectors like environment, First Nations, clean energy and not for-profits offer potential, as does manufacturing, to some extent.

The good client perception : There is a notable increase in the number of client base retention of management firms in Canada. This indicates that clients are happy with the services provided by the firms. Clients want consultants to bring greater efficiencies and effectiveness, along with improved processes, to their assignments. This seems to be happening considering the large client base retention. Clients want to hire firms and consider them worth the cost.

The bad client perception : Several clients want to only receive mentor ship and coaching from management firms. This indicates that the growing perception is that once clients are empowered from firms they no longer need their services.
This is a dangerous trend for management consulting firms because, the more clients are empowered the more their jobs are at risk. Clients seem to view management firms as a one time coaching/ mentoring center. This could either be because clients don't trust firms to handle their insider information or they want to reduce costs.

The ugly client perception : For many firms in Canada getting assignments is based on "who you know" and "who know you". This shows nepotism as a consequence of trust issues with management firms.

Overcoming management consulting firms challenges :
1. Management firms need to work on addressing the "big trust challenge".
2. Firms need to focus more on value based consulting
3. Clients are increasing valuing asset-driven or evidence driven consulting. Focus should not merely be on preparing reports but on creating data analytic s with meaningful action items and evidence informed by best practices.

Therefore, in conclusion, the popular client perceptions in Canada about Managament Consulting firms can be based on good; bad and ugly. The good news is that evidence of huge client base retention shows that management firms are able to satisfy clients needs. However, the bad news is that many clients now want only mentoring and coaching services from firms so that they handle their company's issues by themselves. Lastly the ugly side is that nepotism in the form of "who you know" and " who know you" exists because of the challenge of trust issues with firms.
of four

Management Consulting - Success Stories

Management consulting firms such as Deloitte, McKinsey, and PwC, mainly publish their clients' success stories through case studies. Companies also publish different client success content on social media, mainly Twitter and LinkedIn. Private, closed events such as summits are also used to promote client success stories and foster further B2B partnerships.


The purpose of this request was to find out how management consulting firms are sharing client success stories in marketing, specifically when it comes to medium and large-sized Canadian corporations. As already mentioned in research instructions, consulting firms sign NDAs which in most cases completely forbid them from sharing success stories, unless their clients agree to be featured in their case studies or press releases. Therefore, we focused our search on trying to identify any stories that have been shared. We found different success stories, however, most of them couldn't be pinpointed to Canadian corporations, largely because consulting firms either don't have press releases specific only to Canada, or their success stories have a global focus. We also examine social media to further see whether successful examples could be found. We look into Deloitte, McKinsey, and PwC for our examples.


Deloitte publishes a yearly list titled "Fast 50 list of Canada’s high-growth companies". In this list, Deloitte explores companies that feature a large growth, and the most successful companies are then given a spotlight in the media. However, nowhere in the media coverage or on Deloitte's website does it say that this list features Deloitte's clients. However, as the companies were featured by Deloitte so prominently, we could assume they do business with Deloitte. In the article that accompanied the press release about the list, a company titled Diply is featured. It is a Canadian company that "creates and aggregates highly sharable clickbait-y content geared towards millennials" and attracts more than 41 million unique visitors each month. This list is one of the ways Deloitte seems to promote the new, emerging companies that they are supposedly working with.

The overall way Deloitte promotes their success with clients is through their Client Spotlight segment on their website. In this segment, they publish case studies of companies such as Adobe, Marathon Oil, Novant Health, and Yamaha. However, this is not specific to Canada as case studies that are published have a global focus.

The only case study we were able to identify for Canada is about Fortune Minerals. The report Deloitte published explains how Deloitte’s Global Mining team and their expertise helped Fortune Minerals, a TSX-listed mining company, to finance their strategic joint venture that includes a $181-million investment.

On Deloitte's Twitter profile, they shared their Analytics and Now summit where different companies were featured. One of these companies was Netflix Canada, and their co-founder Marc Randolph. He spoke about how "a single-minded focus & reliance on data and analytics to test, measure and learn on the fly was key to making Netflix a success". In this way, Deloitte allows companies to share their stories directly, without a written trace, while still promoting their partnership with Deloitte.

Deloitte also published about their partnership with Apple. In this press release, Deloitte specifies Apple as their partner, not a client. However, partnering with a company that is so successful could be seen as a marketing move in order to attract further clients. In the press release, it is mentioned that Apple and Deloitte will collaborate on the "development of a new service offering from Deloitte Consulting called EnterpriseNext, designed to help clients fully take advantage of the iOS ecosystem of hardware, software, and services in the workplace". This means that clients will be able to use this new offering to find the highest impact ideas and opportunities within their industries and then fastly develop custom solutions by using rapid prototyping.


McKinsey publishes their success stories without naming the companies, which makes it impossible to know whether the companies are Canadian, or their size. The examples they give are e.g. in wealth management and travel industry.

On their LinkedIn profile, McKinsey published about an event in Washington, DC where they will present how they work with "the private, public, and social sectors in Asia, Africa, Central Europe, Latin America and the Middle East to tackle some of the toughest challenges facing these regions". This private event could be seen as a marketing effort, and it also doesn't leave a written trace which might not be contradictory to NDAs. Their social media isn't country-specific, as can also be seen on their Twitter profile which is only global.


PwC shares no Canada-specific success stories in their case studies. There are only twenty case studies featured on the website, and they do feature different countries, but none of them are about a Canadian company.

The company's press releases also have only a global focus. Companies that are named in press releases are considered partners, such as SAP in this article. However, this could be seen as a marketing effort as the title of the press release reads: "PwC brings multiple competencies to SAP S/4HANA implementation". Also, the fact that PwC was featured in the Gartner report, which is an independent industry publication, also ranks them high as a consulting firm.

James Temple, CCO of PwC Canada, uses Twitter to share different snippets of client success stories. An example of this is WWF-Canada and their feature in the Living Planet Magazine. James wrote: "Big thanks to @WWFCanada for the shout out in the spring 2018 edition of Living Planet Magazine! Feel so proud and lucky to work with leaders like Alice and the 30+ PwC’ers who raised over $10k as part of the #CNTowerClimb for nature". Another example is the one of Starbucks Canada and their employment partnership with the city of Toronto.


We present Deloitte, McKinsey, and PwC as consulting firms which share client success stories in marketing. The way these companies find ways of sharing their success stories without violating NDAs is by publishing case studies, often without naming companies, or only mentioning companies in different partnerships and lists.
of four

Management Consulting - Key Decision Drivers

If a business is no longer running smoothly, executives will consider hiring a management consulting firm to help identify problems and implement solutions. An executive will also consider hiring a management consulting partner if their business requires a specific set of skills they might not have, or if a project needs a new and unbiased perspective. When selecting a potential partner, executives are influenced by a management consulting firm's willingness to act as a team player, their ability to listen and take a company's needs and concerns into consideration, and their ability to connect with the company while remaining professional.


Executives are primarily influenced by how well their business runs. When a business is no longer working at peak efficiency, executives will consider hiring a management consulting partner such as Deloitte or McKinsey to help find a solution to the problems they're facing. These solutions might require specialized skills which the company itself doesn't possess, or they need specific advice that their management partner will need to be able to provide and then implement.

Hiring a management consulting partner when a solution requires an outside perspective will offer an objective viewpoint that can identify underlying issues much faster and help management understand and implement solutions.

Another reason that could convince executives that their company needs to hire a management consulting partner is that they don't have the manpower to focus on the issues that need to be addressed. Management consulting firms can help with day-to-day operations while the business and its employees focus on their own core responsibilities.


Executives first determine why they need to hire a management consulting firm. As discussed before, executives usually make the decision to research and then hire a management consultant when their businesses aren't running at peak efficiency. When the "why" has been established, executives then take into consideration how a potential management partner will fit in with what their company is doing, and what kind of changes they would like to see happen. The changes executives would like to see implemented are typically performance-based.

Executives then take into consideration what the desired outcome would be when they hire a management consulting partner. This requires that executives reflect on whether their company has the right objectives. This is crucial as it will ensure that executives are certain they know which issue or aspect of their business they need outside help with. David Fields, the author of The Executive's Guide, warns that executives sometimes think they understand what their business needs help with, but it might actually be something else. Taking the time to map out their objectives and problems will ensure that the right problems can be addressed immediately, and goals will be met more easily. Management consultants will need to be able to listen to what the business needs and address these objectives.

Executives also need to take into consideration the potential risks involved in hiring a consultant. Executives will want to discuss their reservations with the partners they're thinking of hiring, and management consultants will need to take these concerns seriously and address them in a way that will satisfy the executive and fit the business's needs.


There are a number of important factors executives take into consideration when their company needs to hire a management consulting partner. Our research team investigated the key criteria, and those reasons are discussed below.

Executives want their management consulting partners to be team players. They want partners that will work well with their business's employees, and executives are more likely to select partners who are willing to learn and listen to feedback.

The second factor that will influence an executive's decision to hire a management consulting firm is how professional a management consulting partner is. Executives want their potential partner to be able to relate to them, but still maintain professionalism.

Management consultants need to be able to act as influencers and instill change. That means executives want consultants to listen and be able to confidently outline a way forward that will best benefit the business.

Executives look for management consultants that have a reputation for being analytical problem solvers and quick, organized thinkers. They want partners that will be able to quickly identify a problem and then be able to provide practical solutions to combat those problems.

A management partner that can show they are driven and productive will also influence an executive's hiring decisions. Executives will be more likely to select consultants that are known for being disciplined and able to deliver results quickly. Firms that have a history of employing consultants that can't manage their emotions or anxiety levels will be passed over.


As discussed in the brief, executives decide to hire management consulting partners when their business is no longer running smoothly, or when they need an outside perspective to help identify a problem. A few key factors that could influence an executive's decision to hire a management consulting partner include a potential partner's ability to work with the company, their ability to listen and address problems, and their level of professionalism.