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Difference between strategy consulting and management consulting

Strategieberatung vs. Managementberatung, Hände, Gestik, beraten, computer im Hintergrund

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The consulting industry is extremely diverse and encompasses many specializations and niches. Consulting can be cover all aspects of operational activities. Management and strategy consulting in particular are often confused, although they are very different.

At the highest level, strategy consulting deals with the “what” and management consulting with the “how”. Strategy consultants:inside focus on the big questions and the strategic vision of a company, while management consultantsinside focus on implementation at an operational level. Nevertheless, the two are connected and often interdependent.

Why companies hire strategy consultants or management consultants

Engage companies consultants for various reasons, including expertise and objectivity. External consultantsinternal bring specialized knowledge and skills that may not be available internally and can offer an unbiased perspective on the company’s challenges and opportunities. In addition, you can Strategy consultants and management consultants projects or tasks often more efficiently than internal employeesinternal and offer flexible support for specific projects.

Companies call in consultants for various reasons:

  • Expertise: Consultants bring specialized knowledge that is often lacking internally.
  • Objectivity: Consultants offer an unbiased perspective on the company’s challenges.
  • Efficiency: Consultants can often complete projects faster than internal employees.
  • Flexibility: Consultants can be hired for specific projects or time periods.
  • Cost savings: Hiring consultants can be more cost-effective than hiring full-time employees.

The main differences between management consultants and strategy consultants

Strategyconsulting and managementconsulting represent two central pillars that appear similar at first glance, but pursue fundamentally different approaches and objectives. The main differences between these two forms of consulting lie in the focus of their activities: While strategy consultants focus on defining a company’s overarching business strategy and working with executives to develop and refine their strategic vision, management consultants focus on optimizing day-to-day operational and management practices, working closely with various teams and striving to improve process efficiency and cost management. The The table below illustrates these differences in detail and provides a clear overview of how the two forms of consulting support companies in different ways and help them to achieve their goals. itheir goals.tion of their goals.

Criterion Strategy consulting Management consulting
Focus
Long-term planning and big picture
Implementation of specific projects and initiatives
Target group
Working with managers to develop strategic visions
Collaboration with various teams to optimize processes
Main tasks
- Developing strategic visions
- Identifying growth opportunities
- Supporting major decisions
- Optimization of processes
- Cost reduction
- Performance improvement
Project duration
Short and intensive (approx. 4-8 weeks)
Longer and more extensive (months to over a year)
Typical projects
- Organization design
- Cost reduction
- Market analysis
- Technology transformation
- Personnel and cultural change
Working method
Research-based, often with tight schedules
Practice-oriented, often with direct implementation

What are typical projects in strategy consulting?

Strategy consulting projects are often short and intensive:

  • Organization design
  • Cost reduction
  • Market analysis for new technologies
  • Redesigning business models
  • Pricing strategies
  • Market entry strategies
  • Growth strategies

What are typical projects in management consulting?

Management consulting projects are more extensive and longer-term:

  • Technology transformation
  • Changes in personnel and culture
  • Digital implementation
  • Cloud migration
  • Program management
  • Organizational restructuring
  • Implementation of cyber security

How do working hours and salaries differ in strategy and management consulting?

In the world of management consultancy, long working hours are considered standard. They can vary between 8 and 16 hours per day, depending on the scope and requirements of the project. This is particularly pronounced in strategy consulting, where consultants are often confronted with very tight schedules and highly intensive projects. The need to deliver innovative and effective strategies on time often leads to longer working days, which can extend well beyond normal working hours. To find out more, read our article: Strategy consultants: What is the role of strategy consultants?

In contrast, management consultants, who are generally responsible for longer-term projects, have a more “balanced” work schedule. Although these projects require continuous support and close cooperation with the client, the deadlines are usually less urgent than in strategy consulting. This often allows management consultants to work within the traditional 8-hour working day, although there can of course be peak times here too, especially when important project milestones have to be reached or deadlines met.

As far as salaries are concerned, these reflect the differences in work intensity and the expertise required. Strategy consultancies generally offer higher starting salaries than management consultancies. This is because the work in strategy consulting is seen as more strategic and specialized, which requires a deeper understanding of complex business models and market mechanisms. According to current industry data, career starters in leading strategy consultancies can expect annual salaries of between 80,000 and 110,000 euros. In management consulting, on the other hand, starting salaries are typically between 60,000 and 80,000 euros per year. These differences in salary structures reflect not only the different requirements and responsibilities, but also the value of the strategic recommendations and implementations provided by the consultants.

Criteria Strategy consulting Management consulting
Working hours
Often long working hours due to short projects
Tends towards regular 8-hour days with exceptions for important deadlines
Average working hours
10-16 hours per day during the project phases
8-12 hours per day, depending on the project phase
Salary (entry level)
€72,000 to €99,000 per year
€54,000 to €72,000 per year
Salary difference
On average 23% higher than in management consulting
Lower than in strategy consulting

This table shows that both working hours and salaries tend to be higher in strategy consulting than in management consulting, reflecting the specialized knowledge and strategic focus.

The key competencies in strategy and management consulting

The key competencies in strategy and management consulting can be characterized by very different but equally important sets of skills:

Strategy consulting:

  1. Analytical skills: Strategy consultants must be able to analyze complex data and market conditions in order to make sound strategic decisions.

  2. Market understanding: A deep understanding of market conditions and dynamics is essential in order to recognize which strategies are promising in a particular environment.

  3. Creativity and innovation: These consultants must be able to develop new and innovative solutions to problems that are often unique or first-time.

  4. Quick and strategic thinking: You work in a dynamic environment that requires quick decisions in order to take advantage of opportunities and improve the company’s positioning.

Management consulting:

  1. Organizational skills: Management consultants must be able to organize and monitor complex projects and daily operations efficiently.

  2. Communication skills: The ability to communicate clearly and concisely with team members at all levels is critical to ensure that everyone involved understands the project goals and steps.

  3. Change management: You must not only plan changes, but also have the ability to effectively manage and implement these changes within the company.

  4. Interpersonal skills: Working with different stakeholders, often across different departments, requires empathy and the ability to relate to different personality types.

Both areas require consultants to not only have excellent technical skills, but also to be able to communicate effectively. While strategy consultants often have to convince and inspire, management consultants focus on clarity and precision in communication in order to effectively convey and implement operational processes and requirements. These different skills enable consultants in both fields to offer specific and valuable services tailored to the individual needs of their clients.

Career paths in strategy and management consulting

The career path in both types of consulting can be very different. In strategy consulting, young consultants can rise quickly if they stand out for their exceptional performance and innovative ideas. Here, flat hierarchies and a strong performance principle are often used to promote talent and bring it into management responsibility at an early stage.

In management consulting, the career path is often more structured, with clearly defined stages from junior to senior positions. This reflects the need to gain extensive experience in the implementation and management of complex projects before taking on further responsibilities.

However, both types of consultancy offer extensive training opportunities and the chance to gain experience in different industries and with a variety of clients, making them attractive career options.

Which advice is right for your company?

The decision as to whether a strategy or management consultancy is better suited to the needs of a company depends on many factors. Companies that are in a phase of reorientation or significant growth could benefit from the in-depth, innovative approach of the strategy consultancy. Those who want to optimize their existing processes and increase efficiency will probably derive more benefit from management consulting.

In many cases, a combination of both approaches can be the key to success. Understanding the company’s specific challenges and goals is crucial to choosing the right type of consulting and ultimately getting the most out of the consulting experience.

Understand. Connect. Success.

Do you want to fully exploit your company’s potential? At consultingheads, we connect you with the right consultants from our network. Whether you are looking for strategy or management consulting – you will find the Experts, who not only understand what you need, but also know how to implement it. Discover now how our specialized Consultsants can drive your business forward. Contact us today and start on the road to success!

Management consulting or strategy consulting?

Discover now how our specialized consultants can drive your business forward. Contact us today and start on the road to success!