Analysis constitutes an important part of the work that we do in consulting and enables us to fully understand an issue and associated alternatives before we prescribe a solution. Often packaged into an activity referred to as a study, this may involve situational analysis conducted to gain a deeper understanding of a client's existing situation, requirements analysis to establish a client's specific needs, competitor analysis to benchmark competitor performance and examine competitor strategies, and solution analysis to explore and evaluate solution options. The upfront efforts invested in analysis can have a notable influence on the accuracy and subsequent value that a solution can deliver.

Clients may, however, be sceptical towards commissioning consultants to conduct analysis and expect us instead to jump directly to the recommendation of a solution. Common reactions include: ‘You are experts in this industry. Why is the analysis of external factors required? You should know these things already’, or ‘You should not need to analyse the specifics of our organization. You have worked with us many times before.’ Most seasoned consultants have heard statements like this more than once. These claims, whilst somewhat legitimate, can reduce the analytical efforts required but rarely render them redundant.

Experience suggests that there are two common reasons for such scepticism. The first and most obvious is cost control. By omitting a study, the ...

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