How to define your consulting needs: 3 simple tips to get started

How can you measure the impact of a given project if you don’t define your needs and expectations? Defining the scope of your project is a compulsory step in the sourcing process.

On this week’s Smart consulting Sourcing podcast, Consulting Sourcing Expert Hélène Laffitte explains how to define your consulting needs.

 

Key Takeaways

When you want to work with consultants, you need to define your consulting needs. It is an important part of the Sourcing process for a consulting project. The RFP will be the reference document for the consulting providers you invite to the competition.

Defining the scope of your project is a compulsory step in the sourcing process. You need to gather a team made of the major stakeholders and agree on the expected results, timeline, and budget for the project.

If you decide to work with consultants, you are interested in their analytical skills, their expertise or their outstanding communication competencies. Don’t waste their talent (and your money) on menial tasks.

Be sure to give a fair chance to all the consulting firms you engaged in your RFI, so your company is not seen just as a brain picker.

The RFP will be the reference document for the consulting providers you invite to the competition.

Transcript

Hello and welcome to the fifth episode of our podcast: Smart Consulting Sourcing, THE podcast about Consulting Procurement.

My name is Hélène, and I’ll be your host today.

Each week I’ll give you the keys to better use, manage and source consulting services.

In this fifth episode, I’ll give you some sound principles to define your needs.

Last week, we discussed how to get started in the sourcing process.

We saw that the first step was to identify the scope and the budget. Many clients tell me: “My project is very small… It is a sequel.. I already know the consultant I want to work with.”

These are fair points. But let me put it in another way.

How can you measure the impact of a given project if you don’t define the expectations?

Defining the scope of your project is a compulsory step in the sourcing process. You need to gather a team made of the major stakeholders and agree on the expected results, timeline, and budget for the project.

Even though you are thinking of bringing in external resources to lead the project, the sound principles of project management still apply. Determine the real problem to solve and the project objectives. Many consulting projects fail because the scope is too vague and too broad.

If you decide to work with consultants, you are interested in their analytical skills, their expertise or their outstanding communication competencies. Don’t waste their talent (and your money) on menial tasks.

They are better employed on complex projects where they can do their magic. Besides, they might not be interested in working on small projects, and your project could move down on their priority list. And it might not be “good news” in regards to quality and expertise.

If you are looking for another pair of arms or data crunching, you might prefer freelance platforms such as CoMatch, Catalent, TalMix, or even networks like Eden McCallum. You will find bright individuals ready to take on very small projects or interim work.

It is sometimes difficult to translate the business challenges and the needs into a project. You might not be sure if the project will happen, or have a clear scope in mind.

The RFI or request for information can be a good way to collect and leverage information. It will help you refine your approach to solving the problem and develop consensus within your organization. It can also be a smart way to narrow the number of contestants on your list before engaging in the RFP process.

Be sure to give a fair chance to all the consulting firms you engaged in your RFI, so your company is not seen just as a brain picker.

When the scope is clear, you can take an educated guess at how many consultants you need for the project. You can also think about the value expected from the project. That should give you a ballpark on how much you are ready to pay for that project.

Define your consulting needs and formalize them in an RFP

Many RFPs for consulting are rushed in their development. Sometimes the details or the context are insufficient to understand the business problem you are facing. Maybe some key requirements are missing, or the language is ambiguous.

You also might have forgotten to mention the common pricing framework you wanted or given too little time for the candidate consultants to respond to the RFI or the RFP. However, the result is always the same: it is difficult for consulting firms to send a solid proposal, particularly if they are newcomers.

The RFP will be the reference document for the consulting providers you invite to the competition. Don’t forget to include elements in the RFP process such as timeline, criteria of choice, and requirements. It will help the candidates to be laser-focused on your consulting needs.

Now you have defined your expectations. What do you do with it? Find the right consultants!

That’s the topic I will discuss next week. How do you organize a healthy competition to select the right consulting provider for your project?

In the meantime, if you have any questions, or want to learn more about what we do at Consulting Quest, just send me an email at helene.laffitte @consultingquest.com

Bye and see you next week! Au revoir!

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Helene Laffitte

Hélène Laffitte is the CEO of Consulting Quest, a Global Performance-Driven Consulting Platform. With a blend of experience in Procurement and Consulting, Hélène is passionate about helping Companies create more value through Consulting. To find out more, visit the blog or contact her directly.

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