Consider a Consultant: Professional consultants help companies maintain, improve, and grow operations.

Author:Barbour, Tracy

Analytical Consulting Group uses a different approach to consulting with its clients in Alaska and the Lower 48. The Anchorage-based firm, which focuses on outsourced accounting and payroll services, doesn't just tell companies what to do; it merges consulting with outsourcing services. "When you have someone that is employed in that position, we're there as their mentor," says President and CEO Matt Edman. "When they're not there, we will do that job for them."

Say, for example, a company's CFO no longer wants to live in Alaska and unexpectedly resigns. Analytical Consulting Group has the expertise to fill the void. "We're going to learn everything about your business so that if anybody steps away, we can step in," Edman says. "For most of our clients, we're their business continuity plan."

How Consultants Work

Business consultants fill a broad role for clients, from conducting research about the company to organizing and executing assigned projects on their behalf. White these outside experts usually assist companies with areas like marketing, human resources, management, finance, and accounting, their work is often customized to match clients' specific requirements. Regardless of the focus area, consultants strive to help clients improve their operations by assessing weaknesses, recommending, and sometimes implementing solutions, as Analytical Consulting Group often does.

Generally, consultants work with clients on strategy, planning, and problem solving while enhancing their business skills and knowledge. There are five broad categories of consulting: operations, financial, human resources, strategy, and risk and compliance. However, business consulting firms typically specialize in specific areas and industries.

Analytical Consulting Group, for instance, focuses on providing accounting and payroll software systems for enterprise resource planning, human capital management, time and labor, and productivity suites. The company works in accounting, payroll, grants, software, project management, and business model assessment. Analytical Consulting Group guides its clients--which are mainly involved in hospitality, construction, healthcare, and city administration--through the process of software selections, implementation, training, and long-term management if necessary.

Companies--regardless of size--need support services that range from simple software installation to accounting support, training, and collaboration in service management, according to Edman. As such, his company integrates all of these services and creates a customized experience that delivers solutions that are designed to best meet client goals.

As a unique aspect of consulting in Alaska, Analytical Consulting Group helps clients merge culture with compliance. 'I've been doing consulting in Alaska for the last twenty years,' Edman says. "I understand the way of life and culture in Alaska.'

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