You can create the perfect dashboard for your consulting firm by combining two ideas we’ve explored previously.
Specifically, when you apply the 3 Rocks evaluation approach to your consulting firm’s Vital Signs, you’ll have yourself a nifty, simple, action-oriented tool that instantly tells you where you stand and prioritizes your consulting firm’s efforts.
Setting Up Your Perfect, Consulting Firm Dashboard
1. Select Your Metrics
Your consulting firm’s three Vital Signs (discussed here) are Cash Flow, Pipeline Health and Delivery Capacity. A number of other useful metrics are mentioned in that same article and in the comments from readers.
You can focus on just the three Vital Signs, or expand your dashboard to include up to 10 metrics. Beyond 10 metrics, the marginal utility of your information typically plummets.
2. Plan Your Data Collection
Meters and dials are only useful if you know how and when you’ll collect your data.
Plan to collect and review your consulting firm’s performance data at least once per quarter. If you’re into daily or weekly dashboard updates, that’s peachy too.
With a solid plan in place, you can automate much of your data collection and you won’t ask questions like, “Hmm, how should I measure Partnership Effectiveness” every time you decide to evaluate your consulting firm’s progress.
3. Describe Your 3 Rocks for Each Metric
This is the hardest step and will take a bit of elbow grease: You must describe three levels of performance for each metric you’re tracking.
3 Rocks (described here) was originally designed to guide and evaluate the personnel at your consulting firm. However, you’ll achieve excellent results when you apply the tool to your consulting firm as a whole.
For each metric in your dashboard, what performance level will you consider “Rock Solid” and indicate that no changes to your approach are needed?
What signals your consulting firm’s performance is “Rock Bottom” and demands immediate corrective action?
What “Rock Star” level of achievement warrants recognition, double-dipped chocolate celebration and, perhaps, additional investments to build on your strengths?
The 3 Rocks approach is akin to the useful, but hopelessly boring evaluation scheme of “Below expectations; Meets expectations; Exceeds expectations.”
Hard, numerical metrics such as cash flow are easy because you can set Rock Bottom as any performance below “X”, Rock Star as any performance above “Y”, and Rock Solid as performance between X and Y.
However, softer metrics such as Relationship Strength, Personal Satisfaction and Plan Completion require you to craft descriptive language that you will use to evaluate the status of your consulting firm and guide your actions.
4. Collect, Observe and Act
Start collecting the data according to your plan, monitor your consulting firm’s performance, and let the dashboard direct your priorities. The 3 Rocks will instantly tell you how to gauge your performance and where investment and/or changes in approach are needed.
You can set up your perfect consulting firm dashboard in a simple spreadsheet or you can utilize fancy dashboarding software.
Use whatever platform works for you, that you can implement quickly¸ and that you’ll actually look at according to the schedule you set in Step 2.
Do you think a dashboard will help you run your consulting firm?
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.