Whether you’re a client using consultants services, or a consultant yourself, chances are your biggest fear, when entering into a contract is that the project will be a dismal failure, and that you’ll end up with egg on your face.
Let’s face it, that does happen from time to time, and although you, as a consultant, may have many successful projects under your belt, it’s certainly those failures that you, and your clients, will remember.
Knowing what the causes of failure are as important in avoiding that situation and keeping your reputation intact, so here in no particular order are the top three causes why consulting projects fail.
1. Poor Reporting
Whether intentional or not, poor reporting to your client is a sure fire way to end up with a disastrous result! It may not even be your fault. Often, when clients hire a consultant, they assume that they know what they are doing, and just let them “get on with things.”
If you hate report writing, consider this: if you don’t provide reports throughout the project, you may go wrong at the beginning, and, unknowing, base the rest of your project on that error. Result? Project failure. It’s far better to bore clients to tears with exhaustative reporting, and know that you are constantly communicating, than to end up with a failed project.
2. Insufficient Information
Often, a client will find qualified consultants, call for proposals, and select a consultant who on paper is an expert, and capable. They’ve checked that the consultants’ services match the profile of their requirements, and feel assured that they have someone who is experienced and an expert.
They then assume that the consultant “knows what they are doing” or are embarrassed for one or other reason to tell this expert their exact requirements, leading to the consultant basing their tackling of the project to assumptions. And we all know what they say about assumption right?
It’s better to double, or even triple check that you are one hundred percent clear on the requirements, and desired outcome before you even get started.
3. Change of Scope
This one is a classic example of an indecisive client, but sometime or another, we will all encounter those.
In this scenario, the client provides a brief at the beginning of the project, on which you base your proposal. Before you start the project, you check again with the client with regards to the desired outcome, and then you get going, doing whatever it is that you do best.
Halfway through the project though, the client changes their mind, moving the goalposts, and completely altering the desired outcome. This, of course, results in insufficient time, or an inability to deliver, and ultimately, project failure.
While it’s not possible to avoid this situation entirely, it does strengthen the argument for detailed, written contracts. At least with a contract, you will have something to refer back to in this situation!
Dealing with Project Failure
Sometime, somewhere along the line, every consultant faces project failure, but often, it’s the way you handle that failure that determines how you come out of it. When working with consultants, companies have certain expectations, and, whether those expectations are right or wrong, it’s important to learn from your mistakes, fix them when it’s your fault, or try to come to some other professional, civil arrangement when it’s not. Remember, it’s their project on the line, but it’s your reputation!
Whether you engage consultants services for your project, or work as a consultant, the success of a project should be your number one priority.