What is process consulting?

Process consulting is the application of process science in the business world. Process consultants solve business problems and improve business processes. They help companies to grow in a healthy, sustainable way.

Defining consulting

Consultants help businesses solve problems by selling knowledge. They deliver this knowledge in a few different ways, including:

  • Research and analysis (gathering and packaging knowledge)
  • Training and other knowledge-based products (sharing relevant knowledge)
  • Support with implementation (delivering knowledge through deploying resources)
    • Providing extra staff
    • Providing additional technology

Consultants are usually expensive to work with. Businesses hire consultants because the cost of acquiring their knowledge internally (through training staff or hiring employees) would be even more expensive. (In other words, the exchange of the consultant’s knowledge for the business’s money creates value.)

The length of time for which a business hires a consultant will depend on their specific needs. Sometimes, they only need this specialized knowledge for a short-term project. That is another reason why businesses often find a consultant’s higher rates more cost-effective than hiring and onboarding a full-time staff member.

What is process consulting?

There are many different types of consultants. Consultants specialize in many different areas, including:

  • Management Consulting: general understanding of how to better manage an ongoing business operation 
  • Strategy Consulting: understanding of how to inform high-level, executive decision making, typically around large projects or changes to the business
  • Digital/Technology Consulting: understanding how to digitize and automate work and implement technical solutions
  • Subject Matter Expert (SME) Consulting: in-depth knowledge of a particular area of expertise, such as IT, HR, Marketing, Legal, Finance, etc.  
  • Process Consulting: understanding how to measure, improve, and manage processes

The subject matter expertise and knowledge that a process consultant sells is process science: the understanding of how energy flows through the universe. Process consultants are process scientists first and foremost. They apply their understanding of process science and its principles to business processes. 

The application of process science knowledge allows the process consultant to solve business problems and improve business performance by identifying blocks to value creation and improving the flow of energy through business processes. This work is known as process improvement

Defining process improvement

In order to practice process improvement, a process consultant must be able to understand and optimize the various elements of a given process. The term process describes the physical steps needed to transform energy into value. 

a diagram illustrating the relationship between energy, process and value.
Fig. 1 – a diagram illustrating the relationship between energy, process and value.

In order for a process to be successful, it must produce net positive value. In other words, the value of the output must be greater than the cost of the input. Anything else is unsustainable.

If benefits do not outweigh costs within any given process, negative value is produced and the process will eventually cease to exist. This is because there is no more energy flowing through it. 

If benefits do outweigh costs, positive value is produced and the process can continue indefinitely. That is why the Third Process Principle states that “any process that creates positive value can continue indefinitely, and any process that creates negative value cannot exist for long”. The goal of the process consultant is to optimize a business’s processes so that they can create more value and remain profitable over time.

In order for a process to create more value, it has to have stronger energy “flow” through it. Increasing the energy flowing into a process and yielding more value out of it is a matter of removing obstacles to this energy flow. Process improvement is the act of increasing value creation from a process by identifying and removing obstacles to energy flow.

How process consultants work with clients

Like other types of consultants, process consultants help businesses solve specific problems by packaging and selling their knowledge in the form of engagements, research, or products such as training and software. In the case of a process consultant, these offerings are typically focused on process improvement and process management. 

Improving the flow of a process by removing obstacles also often translates to cost reduction in core operations, which overlaps a lot with management consulting. And unlike a subject matter expert who focuses on a single area of expertise, the process principles studied by process consultants are universal patterns which can be applied across departments, teams, and industries.

Because of this, process consultants are not limited to one industry or field, and can help solve problems that span many other consulting disciplines, including management and strategic consulting. 

How to become a process consultant

There is currently no single academic requirement or degree program to become a process consultant, although most businesses will expect their process consultant to hold professional process improvement or project management certifications such as a PMP (project management professional) or SixSigma certification. 

Many of the Cavi process consultants have a background in process improvement work or business consulting; others have experience with project management, marketing consulting, internal management, workshop facilitation and corporate training. The same skills that make a good SME consultant, corporate trainer, team lead or management consultant also make a good process consultant.

If you’re interested in learning more about process science and process consulting, this website is a great place to start! You may also want to sign up to the Cavi newsletter to hear about the upcoming launch of the Cavi Method accreditation course and other training offerings.

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