9 Steps to Efficiently Launch a Consulting Project

por | mar 27, 2024

launch a consulting project launch a consulting project launch a consulting project
launch a consulting project launch a consulting project launch a consulting project
launch a consulting project launch a consulting project launch a consulting project

Embarking on a consulting project might not require the expertise of a rocket scientist, but it does demand a strategic approach and a collaborative spirit. As a project sponsor or manager, success hinges not only on your individual efforts but also on your ability to work seamlessly with colleagues towards a common goal. With a laser focus on maximizing value, we unveil nine essential steps designed to launch a consulting project that will put you on a trajectory of success from the outset.

So, keep your eyes fixed on the prize—value—and let’s delve into the blueprint for a consulting project that promises to deliver results beyond expectations.

1. Initiating Change Management Early

In consulting projects, the adage “Well begun is half done” carries a weight of truth often underestimated. Embarking on a change management process at the very inception of your project—specifically, during the project definition phase—is not merely a procedural step; it is a foundational strategy to secure organizational alignment and foster unwavering buy-in. While this approach might not be the norm, its impact on the success of a project cannot be overstated.

Bringing stakeholders and teams into the fold before the consultants even set foot on the premises does more than just prepare the ground; it sows the seeds of ownership and commitment. By involving them in defining the needs and selecting the consulting partner, you’re not just consulting their expertise; you’re building their investment in the project’s outcome. This sense of ownership is a potent catalyst for success, transforming passive observers into active contributors and champions of the initiative.

2. Defining Your Needs

Pinpointing the precise scope, expected outcomes, timeline, and budget at the onset of your consulting project is more than a procedural necessity—it’s the bedrock of successful project delivery. This crucial step demands assembling a core team of key stakeholders to forge a consensus on what the project aims to achieve, within what timeframe, and with what financial constraints.

Even when you’re leaning on external expertise to steer the project, the golden rules of project management remain non-negotiable. The first order of business? Identifying the actual challenge at hand and articulating clear, actionable objectives. A common pitfall that derails many consulting projects is a scope that’s either too nebulous or ambitiously wide-ranging.

A well-defined scope acts as your project’s North Star, guiding every phase of the sourcing process and ensuring all parties—internal and external—are aligned towards a common goal. By rigorously outlining what success looks like, you set the stage for a project that’s not just completed, but completed with a purpose, thereby significantly enhancing the chances of achieving the desired impact.

3. Creating Excitement for the Project

Choosing to collaborate with consultants means you’re seeking more than just additional manpower; you’re looking for their unique analytical prowess, specialized expertise, and superior communication skills. It’s essential to channel these talents into tasks that truly benefit from their capabilities. Assigning consultants to menial tasks not only misuses their talent (and your budget) but also risks diminishing their interest and commitment to your project. Such misalignment could lead your initiative to tumble down their priority list, potentially compromising the quality and depth of expertise brought to your endeavor.

For tasks that require a straightforward boost in manpower or are primarily data-centric without necessitating high-level consultancy skills, exploring freelance platforms like Catalent or TalMix, or even aggregators like Eden McCallum or A-connect, might be a more fitting choice. These platforms offer access to skilled individuals prepared to tackle smaller-scale projects or provide interim support, ensuring you’re not over-committing valuable consulting resources to tasks that don’t fully leverage their expertise.

Remember, the scope of your project and the creative leeway you afford in your Request for Proposal (RFP) can significantly influence consultants’ engagement and enthusiasm. A project that presents a complex challenge or room for innovative solutions is more likely to attract top-tier consultants and ensure their full commitment, thereby enhancing the overall success and impact of your initiative.

4. Organizing a Competition

Launching a competition among potential consulting suppliers isn’t just about going through the motions of sourcing; it’s a strategic step designed to directly contribute to the project’s success. This competitive process serves a dual purpose: it allows you to compare different approaches and pricing, ensuring you have a solid basis for evaluation, and it guarantees that you have a selection of robust proposals to choose from. The true value of this competition lies not merely in the act of comparison but in the quality and relevance of the proposals you receive.

To achieve this, it’s imperative to create a level playing field where all candidates can showcase their best solutions under equitable conditions. This means actively engaging with potential consultants who are not only capable but also best suited to the specific challenges and objectives of your project. Giving them adequate information, time, and context is crucial for eliciting proposals that are both innovative and closely aligned with your project needs.

Therefore, organizing a competition is much more than a procurement step; it’s a foundational phase that influences the trajectory of your project. By ensuring all participants have the opportunity to fully understand and respond to your project’s requirements, you lay the groundwork for selecting a consulting partner who will not only meet but exceed your expectations, driving your project toward its ultimate success.

5. Using the Right Process

Navigating the initial phase of a consulting project often involves grappling with ambiguous business challenges and undefined project scopes. It’s not uncommon to find yourself in a position where the project’s viability is uncertain or its contours are not yet fully drawn. This is where the RFI becomes an invaluable tool. By soliciting broad insights and information from potential consulting partners, an RFI can illuminate the path forward, helping you and your organization refine your approach to the looming challenge and foster a collective understanding of the best path forward.

Utilizing an RFI effectively allows you to gather critical information that can shape the project’s direction and scope. It serves as a platform for consultants to share their initial thoughts and methodologies, which, in turn, can spark internal consensus and refine your project strategy. Furthermore, this process offers the added advantage of streamlining the selection process. By assessing the responses to your RFI, you can identify which consulting firms are most aligned with your project’s goals and capabilities, enabling you to narrow down the field before advancing to the RFP stage.

However, it’s crucial to approach the RFI process with a mindset of fairness and openness. Ensure that all consulting firms participating in your RFI are given equal opportunity to understand your needs and contribute their insights. This equitable approach not only fosters a healthy competitive environment but also safeguards your organization’s reputation by avoiding any perceptions of merely “picking brains” without genuine engagement or intent to collaborate.

Once you’ve harnessed the insights gained from the RFI and achieved a clearer vision of the project’s scope, you’ll be in a stronger position to estimate the necessary consulting resources and the investment required.

6. Clarifying the Role Allocation

When sourcing consulting projects, business lines and procurement each take on distinct, pivotal roles, forming a partnership that’s vital for a successful outcome. The business lines spearhead the endeavor, meticulously defining the project’s needs and painting the broader picture of the underlying challenges to be addressed. They set the stage, articulating the desired outcomes and ensuring that the request for proposals resonates with the company’s strategic objectives. Their insight into the project’s essence enables them to vet and shortlist consultants, further assessing proposals not just on merit, but on the potential for alignment with the business vision.

Meanwhile, procurement acts as the strategic orchestrator, fine-tuning the needs identified by the business lines and formalize them in the RFP. They scout the consulting landscape, suggesting potential candidates and facilitating an objective comparison based on the business lines’ established criteria. With an eye on compliance and process integrity, procurement manages the bid with a keen understanding of the market, pushing beyond the proposals to negotiate favorable terms that marry cost-effectiveness with quality.

7. Taking Your Time to do it Right

Crafting a timeline for the consulting bid process requires a balance between structure and flexibility. The key is to allocate ample time for consultants to understand the project’s complexities and craft thoughtful proposals, particularly for intricate projects that benefit from a rigorous Q&A period. This dialogue not only clarifies expectations but also enhances the consultants’ ability to respond with precision.

For smaller projects, a swift turnaround of about one week may suffice. Standard projects typically demand a more generous two-week window, providing a reasonable buffer for consultants to delve into the details. However, for sprawling initiatives such as PMIs or company-wide transformations, extending the response time to three or four weeks acknowledges the scale and intricacy of the endeavor, affording consultants the opportunity to propose truly comprehensive solutions.

It’s also prudent to anticipate iterative discussions beyond the initial proposal submission. These exchanges ensure that proposals are not only fine-tuned but also aligned with the evolving understanding of the project scope and objectives. A well-paced timeline thus serves not just as a schedule but as a framework for cultivating a collaborative and productive relationship with potential consulting partners.

8. Clarifying Workload and Governance in Proposals

Requiring consultants to provide a detailed account of the expected workload and governance structure in their proposals is a critical measure for ensuring transparency and enabling a fair assessment of the value offered. This level of detail not only aids in comparing proposals side by side, particularly in terms of pricing, but also sets clear expectations for the depth and breadth of consulting support to be provided.

It is essential that proposals break down the specific roles and responsibilities your team will assume and the level of engagement the consultants will maintain throughout the project’s lifecycle. This granularity helps you discern the intensity of the resources required and the rigor of the management oversight you can expect. A thorough understanding of these factors ensures that the chosen consulting firm’s approach aligns with your organization’s capacity and that the proposed pricing reflects the true scope of support and collaboration.

9. Asserting Your Leadership

Asserting client leadership in the consulting process is an unequivocal must, ensuring that the engagement unfolds on your terms and according to your playbook. It’s paramount to establish from the outset that your organization leads the conversation, setting the pace and framing the content of all discussions. This requires a clear articulation of your process to the consulting firm, mandating a single point of contact who will abide by your guidelines and coordinate all communication.

In the interest of fairness and transparency, it’s crucial to prevent consultants from independently reaching out to your team members for additional insights, which may give them an undue advantage or result in an information imbalance. Such a protocol not only maintains the integrity of the process but also ensures that all consulting firms operate on a level playing field, with access to the same information.

Equally important is the adherence to your organization’s Terms & Conditions. Your own documentation, reflective of internal policies, should govern the engagement. For example, setting a cap on travel expenses at a predetermined percentage and requiring pre-approval ensures that expenditures remain controlled and consistent with company policy. Applying these stipulations uniformly across all consulting firms upholds a standard of fairness and prevents any biases in the selection process.

We recommend watching one of our past webinars, “How to manage a consulting project as a client?”

Conclusion: Launch a Consulting Project

Launching a consulting project marks the beginning, not the end, of your journey towards success. By meticulously following the nine steps outlined in this guide, you’ve laid a robust foundation for your project’s trajectory. Your internal teams are aligned, project needs and expectations are crystal clear to both you and your consultants, and consultants have been carefully chosen to meet your project’s requirements.

In essence, you’ve mitigated nearly half of the common reasons why projects fail. However, the responsibility now shifts to effectively managing the project and capturing its full value. This next phase is in your hands, where diligent project management practices will ensure that your project stays on track and delivers the intended outcomes.

Remember, success in consulting projects hinges not just on their initiation, but on their execution and management. And if you’re looking for guidance on mastering project management, fret not—we’ve got you covered with another insightful article. So, take charge, stay focused, and let’s continue the journey towards achieving remarkable results in your consulting projects.

9 Steps to Efficiently Launch a Consulting Project

Como a Consource pode ajudar?

Sourcing consulting services differs from standard product procurement. You’re investing in intangible services, making impact measurement challenging. That’s why launching a consulting project requires extra caution. Enter Consource – an all-in-one platform tailored for your consulting needs. Consource accelerates consultant sourcing by 50% with its intuitive interface, self-service portal, and template libraries. Competitively source top consultants by combining your panel with our extensive network.


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