Your consulting firm consists of smart, capable consultants, and you have excellent models and processes. So, why don’t your consulting firm’s projects always run as smoothly as a dogsled on packed snow?
For your consulting projects to proceed apace and deliver
outstanding results, your clients typically have to participate. They’re
responsible for delivering data, forwarding approval, providing snickerdoodles
at meetings, and
barking speaking up if some part of the project is
Alas, consulting clients aren’t well-trained, cooperative Siberian huskies.
Some of those sled dogs are pulling in the wrong direction, nipping at their neighbors, or halting all progress while they lazily scratch their ears.
What to do?
Think of your consulting projects in three phases: Before the project commences, During execution, and After the project concludes (when the client’s ongoing behavior could determine the ultimate value of your intervention).
Also, consider that you can Prevent your consulting projects from sliding off the trail, and you can Remediate problems that slow your projects’ progress or threaten their value.
Six opportunities. Six checklists. Woof!
For the moment, let’s focus on the power box in the lower left. You’re most likely to bring your clients to heel (so to speak) if you untangle your tuglines and don your warmest mittens before you launch your consulting project with a loud, “Mush!”**
Below is a checklist of Preventative steps Before your project launches that set the stage for your clients to pull their weight during the consulting project.
“Prepare Your Client to Succeed” Checklist
- The top of the client organization supports the project.
- Potential saboteurs have been identified and proactively addressed.
- The client has clearly identified the individual who will be held accountable if the client organization doesn’t perform.
- Project support has been communicated from the top to the troops.
- A shared, project workspace is in place and the client has agreed to use it.
- The client has identified a point-person to coordinate communication.
- Permission has explicitly been granted to talk to the decision-maker (or higher) if the client’s behavior is jeopardizing the project.
- The client is aware of actions expected of them: specific tasks, dates, and people.
- The client knows the decisions they will have to make and have agreed to how the decisions will be made. (The FARCI approach is useful for this.)
- The client has signed off on a checklist of resources (people, time, etc.) that they will make available at each stage of the project.
- Signals and trackers are in place that highlight when the client is not meeting obligations.
- The consulting agreement specifies a penalty (e.g., a surcharge) for failure to meet obligations (e.g., turning around approvals within two business days), and a benefit (e.g., fee reduction) for flawless performance.
What else do/would you put on your pre-project checklist to ensure your client helps pull his consulting project across the finish line?
Text and images are © 2021 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.