July 19, 2024

Advancing Business Excellence

Pioneering Corporate Success

Meet America’s Best Management Consulting Firms 2024

Advising on new technologies, simplifying supply chain networks, helping to remove inefficiencies in workflow plans, identifying creative ways to mitigate risk—these are just a handful of the services that management consultants have been providing to businesses since the consulting field was invented around the turn of the twentieth century. Even as businesses have continued to innovate over the years, “in many ways, the problems of businesses haven’t changed; it’s the complexity of the problems, the environment in which the problems occur, and all the tools that are available to solve them that are constantly changing,” says Fred Pursell, adjunct professor of consulting at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business.

Regardless of the circumstances, however, consultants still operate within a tried-and-true framework, which Pursell likens to the way doctors approach their patients: “Doctors of business,” he says, must diagnose each client’s problems—which requires a broad understanding of the industry landscape as well as an assessment of each business’s symptoms and health history—and prescribe a remediation plan based on the client’s desired outcomes.

It’s not an easy feat but the consultancies on this year’s list of America’s Best Management Consulting Firms rise to the challenge again and again. How do we know? For the ninth year in a row, Forbes partnered with market research firm Statista to ask industry insiders which management consulting firms are leading the pack. To do so, we conducted two surveys from mid-November 2023 through mid-January 2024: the first, a peer-to-peer survey of more than 1,100 partners and executives at management consulting firms; the other, a survey of more than 1,200 clients who had worked with management consulting firms in the past four years. Both groups evaluated consulting firms within their areas of knowledge across 16 different industries (such as healthcare, consumer goods and insurance) and 16 different functional areas (including human resources, operations, and innovation and growth).

All responses were combined into a scoring model, and the consulting firms with the most recommendations in each category were given star ratings: five stars for “very frequently recommended,” four stars for “frequently recommended” and three stars for “recommended.” The final list features 190 companies that together received 904 star ratings.

For the third year in a row, both Deloitte and Bain & Company received the most recommendations, with 32 star ratings each. Accenture, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and McKinsey & Company followed closely behind, with 31 star ratings each. Trailing those were PwC, with 29 star ratings; IBM Consulting, with 26; and Ernst & Young Global Limited, with 25.

What each of these top-performing consultancies do best, says Pursell, is offer their clients an objective view of the market environment while providing deep industry knowledge. And Christina Bieniek, deputy CEO of Deloitte Consulting, says it’s these qualities that distinguish the work of her company. As professionals who have worked as bankers, retailers, manufacturers, scientists, doctors and nurses themselves, Deloitte’s consultants bring years of experience not just in consulting but also in their respective areas of expertise, Bieniek says, affording them an “intimate understanding of a client’s business and specific industry.”

Alicia Pittman, managing director, senior partner and global people chair at BCG, says that one of the things that sets BCG apart is the firm’s ability to customize solutions for each client. “We really take the time to blend together best practices from within industry with what’s really right for this client at this point in their history,” Pittman says. BCG’s teams also take care, she says, to consult with employees at all levels of their organization rather than just working with leadership. That means “sitting with the junior people on the team and asking what they are seeing on the ground,” and then incorporating those insights into the firm’s recommendations.

Furthermore, says Pittman: “We make sure that we’re not just giving our clients ideas and actions, but actually enabling them to do something different, and drive things themselves when we leave.” This may involve “building a new team capability for our clients, operating it alongside them for some time, and then transferring it to their ownership.”

At GE HealthCare, which earned a 5-star rating in the health and life sciences sector, consultants help clinicians and healthcare systems bring new modalities to patients. For example, GE HealthCare is advising clients on theranostics—a combination of therapeutics and diagnostics that involves using molecular imaging to both diagnose and treat cancer, says Yassine Bhija, president of the company’s enterprise solutions in the United States and Canada. “GE HealthCare and our partners’ deep understanding and expertise can help our customers navigate the complexities of delivering theranostics care sustainably,” he says.

Of course, when it comes to innovative technology, consulting firms across all sectors are attuned to the siren song of generative artificial intelligence (GenAI). “GenAI was not just the most notable—but a tectonic—shift this past year, as it is the constant and pervasive topic throughout our client discussions,” says Bieniek. “Those discussions started with organizations wanting to understand the benefit. Fast-forward to now, and those conversations are about their strategy, data needs and deployment. As a result, our teams are helping our clients navigate the GenAI revolution, outlining effective use cases for this transformational technology, and helping them scale GenAI across all areas of their businesses.”

Similarly, BCG’s consultants are guiding clients on GenAI at every level, says Pittman. “We’re doing board presentations on what you can make of GenAI, we are supporting marketing and commercial teams on how to create new businesses out of GenAI, and we are supporting HR operations teams and back-office processing centers on how to use GenAI to create new efficiencies,” she says. BCG even has its own internal GenAI enablement network, which consists of hundreds of people across the company who volunteered to be become “black belts” in GenAI, says Pittman. These newly minted in-house experts now mentor their BCG colleagues—getting them up to speed on GenAI for themselves and for their clients.

But for those in the consulting field who worry that GenAI may soon replace human consultants altogether, Pursell says there will always be a need for people. “Consulting is still a people business. It’s about relationships,” he says. “As long as the customer is a human being, there’s a very important role for a human relationship.”

For the full list of America’s Best Management Consulting Firms, click here.

Methodology

Forbes’ list of America’s Best Management Consulting Firms 2024, is based on two surveys conducted by market research company Statista from mid-November 2023 and mid-January 2024: a peer-to-peer survey of more than 1,100 partners and executives at management consulting firms; and a survey of more than 1,200 clients who had worked with management consulting firms in the past four years. Both groups evaluated consulting firms within their areas of knowledge across 16 different industries (such as healthcare, consumer goods and insurance) and 16 different functional areas (including human resources, operations, and innovation and growth).

All responses were combined into a scoring model that also included last year’s results to assess the consulting firms’ performance over time. Recommendations from the management consultants were weighted more heavily than those from clients; this year’s recommendations were given more weight than last year’s. The consulting firms with the most recommendations in each category were given star ratings: five stars for “very frequently recommended,” four stars for “frequently recommended” and three stars for “recommended.” The final list highlights 190 companies.


As with all Forbes lists, companies do not pay any fee to be considered. For questions about this list, please contact listdesk [at] Forbes.com.

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