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Why don't these corporations keep hiring outside consultancies? One reason corporations like having internal consulting groups is cost savings. Internal consulting groups can be an economical way to obtain a large amount of consulting help. The firm doesn't have to pay the exorbitant billing rates; instead, it can receive the outsider opinion for a corporate pay scale. The firm also benefits from having a dedicated team of experts knowledgeable on the company and its industry. In addition, having a dedicated internal consulting unit is a smart way for corporations to market themselves and attract top talent from the outside consulting ranks.
You should think of internal consulting as the same role as if you were in a typical external consulting firm, except on permanent retainer for the same client. You are simply on the client side of the table, and your paycheck comes directly from the client. The main disadvantages to being an internal consultant instead of a "normal" consultant is that you don't get the same variety of industries as you would elsewhere, and you are paid at corporate salaries, which are typically lower than consultant salaries. On the other hand, you will no doubt travel less. And because you are not trying to win repeat work as a consultancy, you will not have the same face time pressures that you might as a typical management consultant.
So, if you are especially concerned about issues like travel and hours, but you are attracted to the types of problems consultants face, you might find an internal consulting arm to be a great fit for you. Note that such departments are not always called "internal consulting" (they are sometimes called "corporate strategy" or "strategic planning"), so you'll have to do some digging.
Examples of internal consulting projects:
Representative internal consulting practices include:
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