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Effective use of Consulting teams and firms


Monday 20th March 2011 - By Leo Alarcon    Share    

When deciding to engage consultants in your business or operations to work on projects or issues within its operations or in business strategy, there are several steps that the management team can take to ensure that the business and management team derive the most value out of the engagement. When the decision to bring consultants in there is usually a general idea of what the problem, issue, opportunity or project is or will entail. Preparation prior to working with the consulting team and allocating time to the project, issue or opportunity they are working on will ensure their skills and time are fully utilized by the business.

Some key items to consider before commencing the consulting engagement:

-A comprehensively worded problem statement or issue/opportunity definition. Include a problem statement followed up by a list of facts of what is known and what needs to be known or accomplished at the end of the project or desired solution to the issue.

-Any top level or bottom up analysis performed by staff or management that will aid the project or provide a starting point for consultants. Careful must be taken not to create a mental anchor on the possible solution or path to the resolving the issue.

-A realistic and achievable set of objectives, timeline and milestones. This should be mapped out by the management team together with the consulting team so that all parties agree on a timeline and deliverables for the engagement.

-Any confidentiality agreements, permits, or documentation needed in order for the consulting team to work with the business or on a specific operational site.

-Any industry, company specific or market data required to gain an understanding of the business and industry in which the business operates. This will aid in the development of a more focussed and achievable solution for the problem or opportunity being addressed.

During the consulting engagement it is important to provide the consulting team the following:

-Access to both senior and middle management who are relevant to the issue, opportunity or project.

-Regular meetings with management to discuss progress, timelines and other issues.

-Access to relevant staff, operators, and site visits to gain an understanding of the problem and operations. This is a logical step but management fail to provide the time or the correct opportunities that could aid the consulting team.

Remember that consulting is like any other service or tool employed by the business, it can be used efficiently and given the appropriate time and attention needed to deliver lasting results but it can also be a wasted resource if not planned and managed correctly. The considerations and steps described above before and during the engagement of a consulting firm or consultants will provide the management team time to think and properly plan for the effective and successful use of this sometimes misunderstood tool of the professional services industry.


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