Operations Consulting - Everything You Need to Know
Most people haven’t the slightest clue what operations (we’ll be abbreviating this as ops) consulting is. When people hear the word “operations,” their mind immediately thinks bad job, bad compensation, and bad career versatility. Operations consulting might not be on par with management consulting, but it’s certainly no schmuck job.
Operations consultants are all about execution. Typically, a company has a defined problem to which you find a solution. It's similar to the function of management consultants. The biggest difference is that, in operations consulting, you help them execute that solution.
Here are some examples of projects ops consultants might work on from @F. Ro Jo".
- How are insurance surrenders processed? What gates must be cleared before payment can be calculated? How are payments processed?
- How do we check a walk-in patient into the hospital most efficiently? How do we ensure that the doctor has the right file with the relevant information?
- How do raw materials become the finished product? Where can the process be more efficient? How can a new form of technology be incorporated in the process?
- How does the client book trades? How can the data be centralized?
- What sort of KPIs should be used for each department?
As you can see, you're not the guy doing thework. You're advising on how they should best do it.
As you’ve probably deduced, projects for ops consulting can vary quite a bit.
Operations Consulting vs. Management Consulting - Compensation, Exit Opportunities, and Lifestyle
Operations consulting isn’t half as prestigious as, and a large part of that is because of its significantly lower salary. Management consultants typically make around $100K out of undergrad all-in. For operations, the compensation is highly variable depending on the firm. On average, ops consultants make anywhere from $55K - $80K. The higher end of that is made by consultants from more prestigious firms.
The exit opportunities are another factor that makes ops a less desirable craft. Management consulting feeds into top business schools, premier finance roles, and management positions at F500 companies. For ops consulting, exit opps are somewhat similar but far worse at the same time. You’ll have to separate yourself in some unique way to put yourself on the same level as a management consultant for business school. Additionally, ops consulting doesn’t feed into finance as much as management consulting.
The lifestyle for ops consultants is comparable to that of all consultants, including management consultants. Travel every week, Monday-Thursday work, and typically return home Friday. Consultants can expect to put in anywhere from 50-70 hours a week, depending on the project.
Where Are the Best Ops Consulting Groups? How Good Are They?
Management consulting is more prestigious than operations, but some operations groups come close. Let’s define prestige as the weight the job title carries on your resume. The more prestigious, the better the exit opps - business school, F500 companies, top finance roles, etc. Here’s @BobbyDigital" with one operations group in particular that compares in prestige to management consulting at(top consulting groups: , Bain, and Group).
I can tell you that S&O is likely 's highest regarded group. In my opinion, it falls shy of MBB's reputation but is head and shoulders above the rest. Don't let the word "operations" scare you due to the people on WSO who constantly talk poorly about it. They are likely just reciting a common misconception to sound informed.
So, there are a few operations groups in the industry that offer very solid compensation, exit opps, and prestige. However, there are some groups that offer virtually the same compensation, exit opps, and prestige as management consulting positions. Those groups are the operations groups of MBB. Here’s @andres" on MBB operations groups, their prestige, and why they’re so appealing.
1. This is exactly the same role as a generalist BA, except you are expected to be focusing on Operations engagements in most of your time.
2. Internal and external prestige \ business school placement is roughly the same.
That said, it all comes down to whether you are interested in Operations or not. (I know many MBB consultants who are and many who are not):
a) If you are, this is really a no-brainer
b) If you are not, then you probably are looking at this as an opportunity to switch to something else once inside , and I can offer two considerations on this:
- It is probably doable, and way easier than breaking into the firm.
Besides the incredible exit opps MBB operations groups offer, they provide one distinct advantage other operations groups don’t: the ability to transfer into MBB management consulting with comparative ease. That isn’t to say it’s easy, but it’s certainly far easier than transferring from any other operations group or any consulting group for that matter. If your end goal is to get into management consulting with MBB, then going into one of their operations groups is a great plan B.
Bulge Bracket Operations vs. Operations Consulting
Because ops consulting is hardly a well-known job as it is, many mistakenly believeoperations is the same as ops consulting. This couldn’t be further from the truth, as there are some very important differences to understand between the two. Here’s @CrossFit" on what each of these jobs looks like.
First, make sure you know the difference between "operations" and "operations consulting"; they are two completely different jobs.
An operations position at a bank would entail things like reconciling trade accounts. You're basically the third man down the line from the trader, with trade support being the middle man.
Operations management involves product development, production, and distribution. You manage things like purchasing, inventory control, logistics, etc. So a consultant would advise on these areas.
In short, the skill set from BB ops wouldn't be particularly transferable to operations consulting. But if consulting is something you want to do, just make a concerted effort to learn about the focus areas and wait for business school.
Operations at a bank is typically considered a worse job choice than ops consulting. However, there’s plenty of room for promotion in banking operations, the compensation is roughly comparable to banking (salary alone, not including bonus), and it’s a much more relaxed lifestyle. Here’s @trailmix8" on the specific functions of banking operations and why it’s not the deadbeat job some suggest it is.
As ops analysts, we are expected to improve processes and design systems that make the workflow more efficient through collaboration with the and technology. Overall, there is quite a bit of out-of-the-box thinking, attention-to-detail project work, etc., that is required of our roles.
More information on banking operations and its exit opportunities below. For Management vs Strategy vs Operations, skip the below text.
If you end up in banking operations, there are three common paths in which your career plays out (@northeastidiot").
1) You work in ops for a few years, learn the back end of the business, go to b-school, and make a career shift.
2) You work in a group that deals with products, has exposure to investment management, get lucky, and a type takes you on.
3) You work in ops for the next few decades, make a decent but not amazing living, have easier hours, and sit at the bottom of the food chain with no real opportunities to move anywhere but another ops role in another group/firm.
Management vs Strategy vs Operations
Strategy consulting helps an organization solve the issues they face. They identify the problem and create a plan for the firm to follow.
Management consulting has broadened over the past few years into a diversified role. It includes strategy, among other things, although it’s reached a point where management consulting is essentially strategy consulting.
Operations consulting is a more focused art. It typically focuses on a single problem as opposed to management consulting, which often looks at the bigger picture. In addition, it helps the business set their plans in motion.
I'm specifically looking at product development and manufacturing positions.
I haven't found too many threads about this practice except a pretty old one with outdated info, I believe. How does this practice compare to strategy consulting/BA positions coming out of undergrad? Does it carry the same weight to get into top 10 b-schools? Prestige? Exit opps? Is MCK big in this space because the office has really low headcount for this dept...
Any info is appreciated.
Interested in Consulting - Breaking In
Consulting is one of the most exclusive industries in the world, particularly management consulting. It’s one of the best career choices for building a lucrative career because of the versatility it offers. But the simplest of mistakes during the interview will get you dinged. That’s how competitive these positions are. Less than 1% of applicants get a top consulting job, which is why preparation is absolutely critical. The WSO Consulting Case Interview Guide is the only crowdsourced guide available, perfected by countless professionals to give you the edge you need.