Are You Making the Most of Your Consultant/Client Partnership? 5 Keys to Ensure Success
There are many types of consulting relationships, yet no matter what type of consulting arrangement you contract for, there are a few “keys” to ensure a successful relationship.
The 5 Keys to Ensuring Success
1. Clearly Define the Engagement
Clearly defining a contract will frame the expectations for both parties. Often, contracts are too high level and vague as the client knows they need help, however may not yet understand the details of the work. When planning for a consulting contract, break down the expectations to a granular task level. Vague wording can derail your project before it starts.
2. Ensure the Correct Knowledge Base
When bringing on consultant(s) who have prior workstream and/or application knowledge, it is important to understand they cannot know all the specifics of how your company is using an application or a particular version of an application. The team may have working knowledge of your application, expertise in migration and architecture but will have little knowledge of customizations you have made to your application. In the project onboarding process, be sure to evaluate the gaps and plan for training to fill them.
3. Communicate Often
The level and timing of communications should be clearly defined. At a minimum, a weekly status meeting should be planned, or if using agile, a daily scrum meeting. Additionally, a clear communication/stakeholder plan will ensure all team members can be reached. Even with a consultant team that is working on their own, status touch points ensure impediments to progress. Slowdowns due to unforeseen circumstances and changes in assignments can be addressed and understood by everyone.
4. Manage Ongoing Finances
Project finances are another area where issues can arise if expectations and tracking are not consistent. Be careful to continuously monitor project finances throughout the project. Good project management skills (cost tracking, spreadsheet expertise) are needed to track project costs. Be sure to track hours and costs each week to catch any trends to schedule slip or scope creep that could impact the bottom line and your relationship with the consulting team.
5. Give Honest Feedback – Positive and Negative
Honest feedback is the most critical key to success. Be open if concerns about an issue, topic, or delay arise. Tell team members what they are doing right and if there are ways they could be more successful. You will get a lot of buy-in and pride in workmanship by telling team members they are doing a great job. Alternately, don’t let any need for improvement conversations wait and fester until multiple topics are growing and becoming a mountain of misunderstandings.
Making the most of your Consultant/Client Partnership is the key to success.
Remember the 5 “Keys” above to help you focus on the importance of keeping your relationship strong and on–task for the long term.