Hello and welcome to episode 19 of a podcast smart consulting sourcing. The podcast about consulting procurement.
My name is Helen and I’ll be your host today.
Each week I’ll give you the keys to better use manage and source consulting services. This week I’ll talk about how to measure the performance of a consulting project.
Last week I discussed with Laurent Thomas about the best time to work with consultants, and we saw that consultants can bring value to the client and that value can be either technical or political. And we also saw that it’s important to measure that value. But how do you do that exactly?
There’s one thing we know is that implementing a systematic performance evaluation specific to consulting sourcing, is a cornerstone of the management of the consulting category.
It will help you to identify high and low performers. it will help consultants to engage in a virtuous cycle of continuous improvement and it will help you develop long-term relationships and development plans with your consultants.
So, how do you measure the performance exactly?
So, you’re measuring the results obviously but there are kind of two types of results. One type is tangible and that’s all the result that you can see so that’s gonna be savings or top-line improvement.
And then there are the intangible results. Those are more difficult to understand so it can be team alignment, cultural change. And it’s harder to measure so you have to use a proxy and one good proxy is client satisfaction or feedback.
And then you compare what was delivered with what was promised in the proposal. So, you need to measure those results based on dimensions and these dimensions are the ones that are critical for your organization.
For instance, one obvious dimension is the value for money and the impact. We’re all looking for that when we work with consultants.
Another dimension can be knowledge transfer for instance or the quality of project management. You can also have a closer look at the level of expertise that was delivered versus what was promised.
So you see that you have to define those dimensions that support your company culture and your company agenda. But one other element that is often overlooked is the fact that you need to standardize the framework so you can leverage benchmark.
So, why standardize & measure the performance?
Because you want to be able to compare evaluations, you want to draw trends, you want to compare conclusions and get some insights out of these evaluations. And the only way to do that you have a standard set of questions.
You can have some small differences from one project to the next because it’s a specific one but the core part of your evaluation should be standardized.
Another element that is extremely important as well is to access both soft and hard aspects. So, when you’re building your questionnaire ,you have to include the soft aspects. And this is part of your project as much as project management is.
So, what is exactly that soft aspect? That can be the ability to build trust that can be the buying or transfer of knowledge for instance. And there are things that you might want to look at depending what’s the purpose of the project.
So that part might be more or less important. Nevertheless, this is always something to look at.
You have to choose the right granularity. And by granularity, I mean the level at which you evaluate the project.
So, is it consultant level? Meaning that you evaluate all the consultants on the project. Is it the project manager, the partner, the consulting firm? It’s an important question.
It’s kind of a balance between the time that you are willing to spend on an evaluation because the more people you evaluate the more time, and also, the accuracy of the evaluation. You know that the skill set of a company is really based on who are the partners there and the consultant themselves.
So, it sometimes doesn’t mean much to say, oh this consulting firm does great on that project.
Well, who was there? Who was the partner? Who were the consultants? And this is kind of that level of granularity that you need to figure out in order to really get the most accurate insights about a consulting firm.
Another level that you can use is to make evaluation different stages for the project.
So, for a small project, a post-mortem evaluation is usually enough, but for a long project or a large project, you might want to have a mid-assignment assessment.
And the reason why it’s really interesting to do that at that moment is that you can at the same time evaluate how well they’re doing.
But also if you’re still on track compared to the initial and you can make the adjustments before it’s too late, before the project is almost done and you have less leverage to discuss with the consulting firm to really get back on track.
And one last thing, that is so often not done, is to ask for feedback from the consultant. On how the project unfolded and what your company could have done better in the way you manage the project.
And what is interesting is that it gets you two things. One is to improve the way you manage consultants and underline the value you capture from a project. And also it will help you improve your relationships with a consultant and ensure transparency and goodwill.
So, in performance management continuity is key and it’s not only about the evaluations. It’s all about making sure that the whole system is working in building a continuous improvement system.
So, you have to make sure your internal stakeholders are engaged. You have to act on the results. It cannot be only an evaluation and that’s it. Shake hands and you’re done. You have to do something about it.
And then you need to use it to improve both your process and your evaluation system with the feedback you receive from your consultants and your stakeholders.
Well, that’s it for today, next time I’ll discuss make or buy strategy and how it looks like for the consulting category.
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.firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also have a look at our website smartconsultingsourcing.com to know more about our book and download free templates and guides to improve your consulting sourcing.
Bye and see you next week! Au revoir!
See you at the next episode. Till then, stay safe and stay connected with us through our community on LinkedIn
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