Sree's Stories

TAKING IN THE SITES / SREENATH SREENIVASAN

Management Consulting Via the Internet

Monday, Feb. 24, 1997
Pg. D7

As anyone would expect from a $25 billion industry, management consulting has a strong presence on the World Wide Web. But unlike finding, say, telephone numbers or flight schedules, finding management consulting information is not easy.

"Too much of it is unfocused," said Tom Rodenhauser, managing editor of Consultants News, a trade newsletter. "Most firms are using the Web merely as a marketing tool. There's useful information out there, but you have to know where to find it." The publication itself has a site, and the most interesting item on it is a ranking of the 40 largest firms.

McKinsey & Co., the best-known firm in the business, and other big concerns have extensive sites that serve mainly as company brochures. The McKinsey site offers profiles of some of its consultants and diary entries illustrating a "day in the life" of 60 employees around the world.

For specific information on the industry, one of the best places to start is Management Consulting Online, a site at Ohio State University. Run by Prof. Tim Opler, the site is filled with free information, including a job bank, articles on consulting and a list of foreign consulting links. While the site is particularly handy for students and job seekers, it offers plenty for others. The comprehensive salaries section will remove any doubts about the lucrative nature of the consulting game.

Opler also picks a "Web site of the month" that deals with the business. His February pick is the site of Booz, Allen & Hamilton Inc., which he cited for "top-notch graphics work and a variety of recruiting-related information."

One site that uses the interactive nature of the Web effectively is Ernst & Young's online consulting service, Ernie. For a fixed annual fee of $6,000, a company can tap into the Ernst & Young information base by asking unlimited questions that are answered within two business days. Everything is done online, with no face-to-face meetings. Ernie offers smaller companies that cannot afford to hire a consulting firm a relatively inexpensive way to have expertise at their fingertips.

Two other sophisticated interactive sites are from Deloitte & Touche Consulting Group and Andersen Consulting. Deloitte & Touche's Peer-scape provides a wealth of financial information, while an Andersen section for users with high-speed connections showcases the firm's work in technology.

Management consulting resources on the Web include smaller players as well. A good one-stop shop is the Management Consultant Network International site, which includes links to solo practitioners.

The "find a consultant" feature at the Institute of Management Consultants site provides a referral data base of its 2,700 members. The user chooses an industry and a consulting specialty, along with a particular state or country, and the site instantly serves up a list of matching consultants with, naturally, any available Web links. The site of the Association of Management Consulting Firms has an arcane referral service, which involves faxes and a two-day waiting period. But its famous code of ethics is easily accessible.

Wet Feet Press, a site run by two former consultants who hold business administration degrees from Stanford University, offers an unusual service for anyone about to interview for a job at a management consulting firm. For $25 plus shipping for each report, the company will send customers its 35-page take on various consulting firms.

Consultants and management professors regularly churn out best-selling books, and now the big titles usually come with Web sites to go with their buzzwords and exotic concepts. An example is "Co-opetition," a Doubleday book by two business professors, Alan Brandenburg of Harvard and Barry Nalebuff of Yale.

The Journal of Management Consulting, a print publication that calls itself the "forum for management consultants worldwide," has made it to the Web, but has a rather bare site, though it promises more material in the months ahead. One publication that covers management in both the old and the new media formats is Fast Company, with its searchable archives and its "consultant debunking unit."

The lighter side of consulting can be found on the Web as well. If you have ever wanted to concoct your own buzzwords, the Create Buzz Talk site will let you type in a word and get back a fancy and totally incomprehensible catch phrase for your next meeting.


TAKING IN THE SITES is published weekly, on Mondays. Click here for a list of links to other columns in the series.

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Copyright 1997 The New York Times Company