There are 3 distinct stages to every successful consultancy project designed to ensure a successful outcome from the clients and the consultant’s perspectives.
1. The process of defining and agreeing the consultancy project
Every consulting assignment is different, but the underlying issues that prospective clients have are surprisingly similar, and the solutions are common to most industries and companies.
So whilst the initial reasons that a client will contact us vary, the issues will be similar for most companies and usually lie within one or more of the following areas:
– Financial performance issues are being experienced with the current business,
– Client wants to infuse modern technology (internet and social media marketing) into their business, but is not really sure how to do this to achieve the optimal results, or
– Client wants to take their business to the next level, but is not sure exactly what that should be or how to do it.
However, whilst every customer comes with certain specific problems, concerns and frustrations, it is important to discover what it is that the client truly wants, and then provide a solution that gives them the benefits they are seeking.
This is one of the reasons we offer a free one hour initial consultation. At that first meeting, we will listen carefully as the prospective client explains what the issues they wish to resolve are, and will ask relevant questions to make sure we have defined and agreed the issues to be resolved.
Also at that meeting we make sure that we and the prospective client are in agreement on:
1. The scope of the work to be undertaken and any specific exclusions: these may be things that either we or the prospect believe should be addressed by the businesses own team members.
2. What, if any, internal resources will be involved in the project, and the extent of that involvement.
3. Whether we will need to involve external specialists from my network to undertake specific tasks that require their specialist skills and expertise. This could for example be;
– to undertake a review of manufacturing systems and techniques employed by the business,
– to review accounting software, or
– to set up internet marketing or social media platforms and associated advertising strategies that we recommend during the project implementation phase.
The reviews by external specialists would normally be included in and be costed into our project. However, implementation by the specialists would usually be treated as separate projects as they are usually very difficult to quantify until the review has been completed and an action plan agreed. Our involvement in that would be limited to agreeing the scope, ensuring that the price was fair and reasonable and maintaining an overseeing review role at regular, pre-agreed meetings during the implementation phase to make sure it is on plan.
Finally, we make sure that we and the prospective client agree the exact outcomes and timescale for the project. These will then be included in the formal proposal and signed off by both parties.
All of the above actions are essential in ensuring that we and the client are in alignment before the implementation phase commences and will minimise the risk of any issues or disagreements arising at a later stage.
2. Consulting Project Implementation Phase
Once the project implementation phase commences, we will provide ongoing updates to the client and his executive team at regular review meetings which will be set and agreed in the project proposal.
Any significant issues will be flagged as soon as they arise. This will frequently include the identification by our team or internal staff involved in the project of any other issues or concerns that we become aware of that may also require attention beyond the scope of the current project, and will be treated as separate tasks that the client will need to decide how they wish to resolve and who will undertake the work required.
The steps outlined above will ensure that the project runs smoothly, that there are no undesirable surprises and that both parties are informed and up-to-date on an ongoing basis. This process will ensure that the outcomes agreed with the client in the proposal letter are achieved successfully.
3. Typical Client Results
Provided all the above steps are adhered to and no significant unforeseen issues arise during the implementation phase, the specific outcomes agreed in the proposal will have been successfully completed.
In some cases, although the original project has been completed successfully, additional tasks or projects will have been added as the project proceeded. For instance, as the client sees the positive results being achieved, they may want to add additional elements. Projects involving specific financial performance issues commonly lead to the recognition of the need to implement a formal strategic planning process, including annual profit, capital expenditure and cash requirements, and financial budgets (First year of plan) and projections (subsequent years); this in turn will often require raising additional funding to support the growth plans. We have extensive experience of and can, if required, be involved in or oversee this process.
So as the trust between the executive team and the consultant grows, this can lead to an ongoing relationship, including involvement in projects e.g. those mentioned above, and in some cases, an ongoing coaching/advisory role which can last for as long as the executive/business owner and the consultant can see the continuing value of the relationship. This may be formal (eg a regular scheduled meeting every few weeks or monthly), or ad hoc as the executive feels they require independent expert advice on a matter, or just an informal chat to brainstorm a subject.
This type of relationship can add significant ongoing value for the executive/business owner as just knowing they have on-call access to a trusted external expert advisor available if and when they need them, can add significant peace of mind and comfort and reduce the level of stress in their life.
In addition to the practical business outcomes as specified in the project proposal, typical flow-on outcomes for the client are the real emotional benefits that they (whether consciously or unconsciously) were seeking all along:
– Their business is back on track, and they are implementing a clear business growth strategy, with a structured plan and ongoing review process in place.
– They are more relaxed, less stressed as their business is more profitable and under control than it has been for many years.
– They are now working on not in their business.
– They are more confident having a trusted advisor available whenever they need him
– As they are more relaxed they are leading their management team more effectively.
– The management team is happier, more motivated and positive about their future.
– This is freeing up owner/top executives time for activities outside of work.
– Owner/Top Executive has more time for family and themselves.
– Family and their partner are happier.
– So overall they are leading a more balanced lifestyle, and
– All the stakeholders in the Company and the Owner/Top Executives life have a happier life.
David Amer Business Consulting
Sharing knowledge and experience to grow your business
reduce stress and balance your lifestyle