How Important are Computer and Internet Skills in Management Consulting?

Written by . Posted in Consulting Industry

Businessman Typing on Computer Keyboard

These days, there are many tools a management consultant can use in order to maximize productivity and time spent on a project or case. Many top-tier consulting firms place a high emphasis on a candidate’s computer skills. Of course, you need to be proficient in Excel and PowerPoint as a consultant, but it will help your career if you are also tech-savvy.

Software and Internet Skills

Most professionals have a difficult time maintaining their consulting network because of the demanding workload. But with social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, it’s relatively easy to keep in contact with other management consultants, classmates, clients, and former colleagues. This method has become increasingly popular in the past few years because of its flexible features, which allow individuals to stay engaged with their professional network from home or on the road.

Apart from social media, there are numerous online applications that increase productivity. Many consultants rely on these various programs and applications to boost their careers. Below are some examples:

PDF Files

The process of combining, compressing, and downloading is something that every consultant should know. Consultants work with a lot of documents and knowing how to properly and quickly edit and create PDF files is extremely important.

Task Management Skills and Tools

Task management skills and tools are effective in boosting productivity, in both an individual and team setting. Allocating assignments and information using a task management system can be done with a few clicks. Tracking the progress of projects can be done in real-time instead of waiting for end of the day reports. Lastly, using a task management system can lower the error rate within the firm.

Basic PhotoShop Skills

Photoshop may not sound like an important consulting skill, but it’s definitely helpful. It has a few more features than PowerPoint and other similar office applications and can be used to shrink, edit, or convert an image file. Photoshop is also extremely useful in customizing templates creating presentations.

Safe and Secure Data Sharing

Cloud applications are becoming increasingly common in management consulting firms. Cloud programs, such as Dropbox and Google Drive, make sharing documents incredibly easy and quick, and security settings enable the safe transfer of private and confidential documents across these types of applications. It’s recommended, however, to verify the consulting firm’s security policy before sharing information.

Research is a large part of a consultant’s responsibility. In regard to online research, the resourcefulness of an individual depends on how well he or she can use a search engine. Entering the right keywords and knowing which websites provide credible and up-to-date information can make a world of a difference when compiling necessary data about a client or its competitors. Online research can also save a consultant time. Instead of leaving the office to interview company representatives or digging into the archives, a quick online search allows room for other tasks that need completed.

PowerPoint, Excel, and Word

Management consultants rely on computer software programs, such as Excel, PowerPoint, and Word, when creating documents and presentations. To some extent, many professionals have an above average knowledge of these programs. Let’s take a closer look at how these programs are used in the consulting industry.

It’s common for consultants to use Excel to graph data analysis. Employing the  proper formulas can streamline computing and input, which can be used for forecasting or evaluation. Excel is also a more organized way of arranging numbers and information in tables. While it’s true that a professional can get by with basic Excel skills, going beyond the beginner level can make a consultant’s work faster and more precise. For example, consultants can customize and store multiple equations, enabling them to quickly utilize numerical data. It’s a great way to crunch numbers without the messy manual computations.

Word is primarily used for drafting documents and reports. A consultant with a thorough understanding of this program may only spend a fraction of the time drafting a proposal compared to a beginner. Although viewed as the simplest of all the Office applications, Word actually has numerous options that can be used to make the drafting experience smoother. Spacing, indention, track changes, and comments are features that can enhance the professionalism of any document. This program can also be used to create newsletters. A management consultant may find this option useful for providing the team or company with  weekly updates. In addition, converting a Word document into various file formats is relatively easy and can be done with just a few clicks.

Perhaps the most overlooked and unused program is PowerPoint. But this program can be extremely helpful in creating professional presentations, and looking professional is part of a consultant’s role. Consultants frequently present their findings to CEOs, the board of a company, or senior staff. While it’s true that the quality of information is more important than the actual color scheme or theme of the presentation, adding these elements can certainly enhance the delivery and how it’s received. More importantly, PowerPoint can be used to compress information. Consultants may need to review a few years of data, but the client doesn’t need to know what’s on every page. A summary of findings is best presented using slides and graphs. A great PowerPoint presentation makes use of an easy to follow structure, which helps convey complex messages to a client. Many consultants use a template to display the framework they applied using tables and graphics. This can be very helpful for professionals who are presenting a very complicated solution. Consultants must also consider the quality of the slides and content when making a PowerPoint presentation. Avoid using stock clipart or 3D images. Blurry or irrelevant photos can also lower the value of a presentation, as these small details can confuse clients.

A versatile management consultant knows how to use all of these programs. One may start compiling data using Word, and then input his or her findings in Excel using the formulas to create charts. Lastly, PowerPoint is used for presenting the proposal in a very eye-catching and direct way.

How Can I Hone My Computer and Internet Skills?

There are a few effective ways that a consultant can hone his or her computer and Internet skills. The key thing is to stay updated with the latest software and online application trends. There are hundreds of productivity applications available in the market today. Sadly, not all of them are useful, and some may even do more harm than good. On the other hand, applications that combine the features of various productivity programs may boost a consultant’s adeptness and competency.

The Dangers of Inadequate Computer Skills

Lack of computer knowledge can hurt a consultant’s career. A consultant works with sensitive and confidential information on a regular basis and regularly shares this information through email, cloud storage, and cellphones. Without the proper security settings in place, data leakage could have a negative impact on a consultant’s integrity, and a client may get discouraged about supplying private information in the future.

As mentioned earlier, without the proper computer skills in place, a consultant may find him or herself trailing behind. Most consultancy firms implement their own set of computer programs within the company and require employees to use them for correspondence and reports. At the very least, these applications often necessitate basic computer skills. The faster an employee learns how to  use these programs, the better he or she will be at performing other tasks within the office because the computer programs a company uses are integrated to seamlessly work together.

In conclusion, as technology finds its way into today’s offices and companies, the more computer and Internet skills will become essential to management consultants. Learning these skills can be as simple as using the applications  mentioned in this article on a daily basis. Finally, more and more high caliber consulting firms are looking for this skill set in prospective applicants. It’s important to keep an open mind about how these applications can increase a consultant’s productivity level.

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