HOW TO MANAGE CONSULTING PROJECTS
Consultants often want to complete projects on time according to agreed deadlines.
The good consultant wants it to be almost ready in half the agreed time. On top of that, it offers exceptional quality far superior to others. Does that seem contradictory to you? Let’s see how this can be done not by accident but by design. I’ll break it down into steps you can follow and give a lengthy presentation with more details at the end.
Good project execution begins long before you have a clue about the project. You can only manage a project when your collaborators know how to work together and are far from achieving the desired effect. Therefore, identify what they need to know and create a system to continuously teach them everything they need to know. Above all, create a collaborative structure – the same models in PowerPoint, and Excel, the same way of describing things, etc. If you go hunting, ensure the gun is working, and you have enough ammo.
How do I achieve this in my small shop business?
It took a while, but I created a small, relatively automated teaching machine. I spend the first 2-3 months with each new business analyst. I gave him the task during this time and explained how to do it in practice. I showed him all the tricks I knew. I also have a seminar with new business analysts every week. I take 1 hour per day per person and 2 hours in workshops per week. The biggest game changer is putting everything they need to know into online courses with samples.
That way, they can go through the document without me having to repeat it. On average, each business analyst spends 2 hours per day for the first 3 months on training courses. In the end, when we brought them together on the project, they knew what to do and worked under the same rules and patterns. I also force them to read selected books to broaden their horizons.
The most important part is the preparation phase. If you do it right, you will deliver tremendous value to your customers in half the time promised. However, if you skip this step, you could fail miserably and be forced to work 24/7 again. The key to success in this phase is reversing the order of tasks. Usually, you wait for a lot of things until the project starts. This means you will run into problems during the implementation phase. Since I tend to avoid stress (good consultants don’t get stressed easily), I do as much in advance as possible. In fact, there’s a lot you can do before you step into your client’s shoes:
It will be one of the main tools you will use to structure your project and decide what to do and what not to do. It can be done easily in 1 hour. Then you add an assumption. Check out the sample problem tree for logistics and another for the retail business.
After you have the problem tree, sit down and create the first draft of the presentation template using pencil and paper. You will then fine-tune it. I highly recommend going a step further and converting your paper draft to a PowerPoint template. You will have a great tool for project Management Consulting.
A lot of market research can also be done before the project, so do that. For example, make in-store payments, do mystery shopping, research publicly traded company reports and strategies, and watch interviews with well-known industry CEOs on YouTube; There can also be a lot of useful content on Slideshare or Quora. In most cases, you’ll be well-informed and quickly understand the industry. Also, check out previous projects from your company or a team member. Again, there can be a lot of interesting and interesting information that you can use.
REQUEST DATA FOR CUSTOMERS
I like to send a data request to a client 1-2 months before the start of a project. This way, they have enough time to prepare the data, and when you start the project, you already have almost all the internal data you need. It’s much more comfortable than the usual setup. Sometimes I even intentionally start a project later to give the client’s team time to prepare what I need. On the other hand, my presence is a waste of time which, as a bad consultant, I do not like.
You can also define groups before starting the project. However, it takes a lot of time, especially on the client side. Implementation projects also take longer, so do this 1-2 months before the project starts.
The more you plan, the less likely disaster will be, so plan the meetings you will have throughout the project. Chances are you’ll change some dates along the way, but that’s much better than finding out that some important people can’t attend important meetings.
Finally, create a contact list of everyone involved in the project, both on your and the client’s sides. Add details like email, phone, and location to maximize communication flow.
If you did what I suggested in Phases 1 and 2, it’s all about fun doing it, and you can sit back and enjoy your food and hotel. You are almost there. However, at runtime, you must ensure the value is generated. The purpose of this phase is not only to create tangible end products (presentations, Excel, manuals, etc.) In this stage, you have started selling new products. Therefore, you slow down and instead focus on or create interest and demand for your product. The client must know that he has other problems, too and that you are the Holy Grail he expects. Here are some tips for this step:
THE PROJECT MANAGER IS NOT WORKING
It may sound controversial, but a Project Manager (PM) shouldn’t do any analytical work and shouldn’t create a single slide. His main goals are managing and getting the most out of his team, controlling quality, and ensuring you get your customers’ consent. If you let him do what he used to do as a business analyst, you’ll fail or create terrible end products.
MANAGE YOUR TEAM
The project manager must manage the daily schedule and ensure that the team completes most of the work in half the promised time. You use templates created during the preparation phase and a task list. Also, get a daily update once or twice a day where you discuss progress and see how far certain project parts have come.
USE THE RIGHT TOOLS
The right tools, especially if used by the whole team, can make all the difference. You may remember the proverb:
SET INTERNAL DEADLINES MUCH MORE CONSERVATIVELY THAN EXTERNAL DEADLINES
Don’t forget that you have to finish in half the promised time. Therefore, set very aggressive deadlines for your team. Don’t forget to contact the group.
ORGANIZE INTERMEDIATE MEETINGS
Have a meeting with the client every week where you show them drafts of the final presentation, Excel templates, and more. This way, he’ll get used to the end result, can give feedback, and you invite him to join you in creating the presentation.
MAKE EXCEL FILES AVAILABLE TO EXTERNAL USERS
One of the biggest mistakes is that sometimes, to save time, your team will prepare messy Excel files that then need to be redone to show the client. In some cases, it’s even worse – Excel is so complicated and messy that no one, not even the author, can understand what he means.
CONTROL THE PRODUCTION PROCESS
You most likely have a group of 3-5 people. It just creates a mess in the presentation. This is why 1 person controls the master version of a PowerPoint presentation, which updates it daily with slides from others.
I always deliver 25 to 35% more than the client wants. I also finished earlier than expected. That way, he doesn’t question my bills and loves me. Stand still!
BE HUMBLE AND MAKE FRIENDS WITH EVERYONE
You do not know the relationships in the company you are entering. So try to be nice to everyone, including the housekeeper. Also, it’s nice to make your own coffee
ATTRIBUTION AND DO NOT STEAL IDEAS
Many consultants take the ideas of company employees and present them as their own. Don’t be that, and give credit when it’s due. You will be loved and treated like a righteous person.
FOCUS ON THE PROBLEM, NOT THE PERSON
Witch hunting is a great hobby, but don’t do it. You don’t want emotions everywhere. You want results and money for those results, so don’t get involved in politics. Instead, focus on fixing the problem as quickly as possible, regardless of the original source.
COMPLETE THE PROJECT
During this phase, you want to ensure that the impact you’ve made in the previous stages won’t go to waste. In this stage, a good consultant hands over the finished products to the client and trains his staff on how to use them. Everything should be described so clearly and simply that even a monkey can use it. Here you are also trying to sell new products. It’s time to not only make soft pushes but also sell.