by Patty Wood on May 9, 2016

As interest and demand for boutique consultancies increase, what core services and different business styles are they offering?

The growth and popularity of boutique consultancies has been increasing, especially since the Great Recession. Clients, as well as consultants, often have to choose among different types of consulting firms in order to select which one is the right fit for their needs. This article reviews some top boutique consulting firms, with descriptions about their niche offerings. Additionally, some pros and cons of work environment and client services are also examined regarding the boutique consulting spectrum of companies.


Snapshots of Strengths of Boutique Consulting Firms

Boutique consulting firms are often profiled in business and employment-related publications, highlighting their niche offerings. Such publications as and IvyExec provide a ranking of the best boutique consulting firms based on employee ratings. Several other boutique consultancies are often listed in regional or nationwide “fast growing” lists of small businesses. A few of the companies listed in such publications are described below:

Regarding the top working environments within boutique consultancies, the Insight Sourcing Group in Atlanta has been rated #1 by for 2016. The winning aspects of this firm include having a collaborative culture and rewarding work environment. The down sides mentioned by employees include less name recognition for this company compared to larger consultancies. This firm has about 80 employees.

In terms of fast growth, BioPoint has had growth of over 5,300 percent from 2011 to 2015. This Wakefield, Massachusetts life sciences consulting firm promotes a niche of tailoring consulting services to their bio/pharmaceutical clients. The services might include providing remote support or a dedicated team of consultants which can work on-site at their clients’ sites.

Another fast-growing boutique firm is Pivot Point Consulting. Consulting Magazine ranked this healthcare IT consultancy as one of the fastest growing firms in 2015. This Bellevue, Washington company provides unique benefits to its clients such as offering a two-week money-back guarantee if the client is not happy with their services. Regarding their desire to keep employees happy, they actually have a “Happyologist” on staff, who makes sure that employees are continuously recognized for their achievements. Staff retention at this firm is 96.4%.

Analyses of Pros and Cons of Boutique Consulting Firms

Some boutique consulting firms boldly explain why they feel they may be better suited than larger firms to help their clients. Such firms include Doelli, which has an entire web page dedicated to explaining how their approach and services differ from a large firm. This Boca Raton management consultancy makes points on their website such as larger consulting firms doesn't necessarily equate to better results and that “big ideas” may be more likely to come from a smaller/niche firm because larger firms have a siloed way of operating. Furthermore, they state that a larger firm might be more likely to assign more staff than is needed for a given project while Doelli claims that they build all their consulting projects to scale to abide by the client’s needs.

Larger consultancies, however, have their fans, and various articles have been published which explain the benefits of working for such companies. Positive aspects of working for larger firms include a multitude of diverse work projects, more potential for promotion, more resources and training opportunities and having a respected employer’s name on a resume, which often becomes a stepping stone to even greater opportunities.

Regarding which career path might be best suited for an individual consultant, The Muse provided a concise article on this topic, outlining the different opportunities. They categorized the choices into four possibilities: premier consultancies, mega firms, boutique consultancies and independent freelancing. For each choice, the article provides a description of “What They Offer” and “Who They’re Good For.” By reading the entire article, a consultant may gain insights into which type of firm ideally suits him or her.

Both clients and consultants have the opportunities to decide which consulting firm size and style is best suited to them. Of course, multiple choices can be made sometimes, such as a consultant starting at a large firm and then moving on to a boutique firm (or vice versa). Likewise, clients may sample both large and small consultancies in order to see which fit is best. Indeed, the consultancy world provides a wide array of choices that are likely to match the broad spectrum of needs of its vast user base.

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