So you’re embarking on a new consulting project. While securing a new client is great, the project itself can prove to be disastrous if you don’t take a few precautionary measures, particularly if you have just recently started a consulting business.
Quite often, working relationships fall apart as the result of miscommunication, or worse, total lack of communication. In order to keep the lines from getting crossed between you and the client, it is crucial to get everything in writing before the project officially begins.
Taking Control of the Project
Of course, project details should be at the forefront of early discussions. Most of the time, you will be the one responsible for identifying the scope of the project, and rightfully so. Your expertise and skills are perfect matches for the job, which is exactly why you chose to pursue a career in business consulting. It is necessary for you to grab hold of the reins and ask the right questions to uncover the details related to each project this – will help you to establish an agenda that keeps both parties in the know.
Determining the Extent of the Project
It is unwise to become involved in a project that offers you very few details in the preliminary stages. In order to create a working relationship that is agreeable yet effective, it is best to conduct an in-person meeting with the main contact for the company. Exploring the issues within a business can become quite time-consuming, making it even more important to create a plan before beginning the work.
While some consultants feel that the scope of the project centers around their own ideals and visions for the future, this is not always the case. The extent of the venture depends on a whole host of factors, including tasks to be completed, depth of the work to be performed and follow-up responsibilities. For this reason, it is crucial that you ask the client about his or her expectations of the project. Nothing can throw a fork in an otherwise flawless endeavour quite like failure to agree upon a list of deliverables.
Setting a Time Frame
Once the finer details have been confirmed, a time line must be created. By asking the client about any approaching deadlines, you can best decide whether or not your schedule will allow for such a venture.
In rare cases, you may be forced to withdraw from a project in the early stages due to previous obligations. For example, if the client wants the project wrapped up within two weeks, you may not be capable of accommodating such a request due to prior commitments. As part of the time frame, you should consider setting up milestones as goals you want to hit along the way. Doing this will allow you to measure the progress made to date and quickly see where you might be falling behind.
It doesn’t matter who sets the schedule, as long as it happens. Without a time frame in mind, there will be no way for you to know what deliverables are due when, or how much time you have left to uncover certain truths and repair the business.
If you have yet to secure your first client, make the right decisions in the beginning stages. While starting a consulting firm can be a lucrative and rewarding experience, the earlier you establish your own set of rules, the easier and more successful your journey will become.