As the final moments of the year tick down on you and your consulting firm, you sweep your gaze across the revelers gathered nearby (or perhaps the televised shenanigans of Andy and Anderson). Wide-eyed, overtired children and adults in various states of inebriation mumble the words to Auld Lang Syne, a song no one actually knows or understands.
End of the year traditions are not optimal models for successful consulting or for how your consulting firm should close out projects.
Yet many consultants stumble through the final act of their projects like the sloshed uncle on New Year’s Eve who fell asleep at nine o’clock and woke to find the year is over, the ball dropped, the party ended, and his only companions are a platoon of empty bottles.
Don’t miss the big finale. Finish your projects strong. How you conclude your projects can be just as important to your consulting firm as how you start them.
Consulting Project Wrap-Up Checklist
Begin with the Outcome
At the outset of your project (i.e, in the proposal) define a clear endpoint. Your client and your team both deserve to know when your consulting firm’s obligations under the contract are complete.
One important factor in consulting success is winning more business (not just more clients). Therefore, long before any project wraps up, surface opportunities for pull through, expansion and extension projects.
Lock In Follow-On Work
Shortly before the end, discuss continuation projects, next phases and extensions.
Maintain High Energy
Stay focused on quality all the way ‘til the end. Don’t drift across the finish line and sidestep the tendency to coast while you and/or your team’s attention moves onto the next engagement.
Ensure Lasting Value
Create materials and transfer skills that your client will need to succeed after you’re gone.
Wave the Checkered Flag
Like old-time movies that showed “The End” in the final seconds,* signal clearly to your client when your consulting project concludes.
Congratulate your client on the consulting project, point out progress and notable achievements, thank your clients for their excellent work, and distribute chocolate liberally.
Well-constructed closeout interviews gather critical information you can use to improve and promote your consulting practice. Ask what went well, what could have gone better and what your client would say to a colleague, peer or contact that asked for advice about hiring your consulting firm.
Produce a Testimonial and Case Study
Craft a testimonial from the information you received during your closeout interview. In addition, create a short case study and solicit a supportive statement from your client while the project achievements are fresh.
Expand Your Network Core
You’ve been asking for introductions throughout your project, right? Don’t let the end of the consulting engagement slip by without asking one more time.
Cement a Long-Term Connection
Even if no follow-on consulting opportunities arose, fix a time on the calendar to talk with your client again. Staying in touch is the best way to build valuable, long-term relationships. (You may also be rewarded with more business.)
What else is on your end-of-project checklist?
Text and images are © 2024 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.