Hello and welcome to episode 29 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.
This week, I’ll discuss How to prepare the transition for when the consultant departs?
Last week, I explained How to make my internal clients to trust me for consulting sourcing.
We saw that the reason why internal clients are avoiding to work with procurement for consulting services if that they don’t always see the value procurement can bring to the table.
The only way to change the status quo is the start exploring the supply market to become proactive in proposing alternatives, and develop relationships with both clients and providers to start building the trust. But since Rome was not built in one day, you need to start taking baby steps.
Find an ally that will recognize the value you bring and build on that success to expand your influence in the rest of the organization.
Today, I wanted to touch upon an important part of project management for consulting projects. At one point in time, the consultants will leave your organization. How do you prepare the takeover of the projects?
Steps to take in a transition process
=> You have to plan the transition from the RFP
Remember, the RFP is all about procuring solutions, not just making a purchase.
With that in mind, think long-term and include the ways to determine whether project goals were met and whether additional consulting support is needed once the consultant leaves.
Keep in touch. Executives and consultants should keep in touch to ensure that the consultant’s recommended systems and ideas work to resolve the original issue.
Yes, we’re talking about data collection—evidence that the new knowledge and systems work, fail, or result in zero changes that are meaningful.
Build in the collecting of data points during the project for three to six months, or even a year afterward. The data points need to measure the extent to which the solution you were aiming for does exist.
You or the consultant can analyze these data as a way to determine project success, failure, or status quo, as well as the next steps to take.
Include a compliance check within the RFP. Once the original project ends, the consultant should schedule a return visit to determine to what extent your team absorbed new lessons and how well new systems are being incorporated as intended.
The last deliverable could actually be the proposed way forward.
=> Figure out which recommendations to keep.
Just because you paid a consultant to address a gap and offer a solution does not mean that your company needs to jump in blindly.
The company’s senior executives can sift through the consultant’s suggestions and cherry-pick those most likely to solve the issue at hand.
Once that sifting occurs, meet with the consultant for feedback on what your team has chosen and how it would unfold.
After all, the consultant may have experience with what result can occur (positive or negative) if recommendation A is kept, but recommendation B is tossed.
=> You need clarify the what, the how and the who before the consultant exits.
Clarity about the next steps is key. Knowing what to do but not how to do it is a roadblock to success.
Before the consultant departs, take the time to make sure that everyone affected knows what to do next and how to do it and that the appropriate resources will be allocated.
The combination of the what to do and the how to do it makes the difference between a return on the consulting investment or a loss.
It’s not enough that employees just understand what to do. The rubber won’t meet the road if they can’t also implement what they know they need to do.
Plan ahead to build in ways to manage implementation and potential failures.
- Who will be accountable for implementing the plan?
- How will the activity be steered
- Who will be responsible for correcting implementation issues?
- How often and by what method will that person be accessible?
=> Don’t forget to plan to retain learned knowledge and skills.
Whether it’s staff turnover or vacation time, new skills can get lost in life’s shuffle. You need a plan to keep that new information at the forefront of employees’ work.
- Is transferring knowledge explicitly part of the mandate?
- Will you offer annual refresher courses? Online manuals? Access to the consultant via email or web forum? All of the above?
- Will there be a mentoring relationship for an extended timeframe once the project ends?
Mentoring often makes the difference between long-term ROI or loss on consulting investments. Just be sure to structure the arrangement with a timeline and clear data points for ending the mentorship.
=> Last but not least, keep the door open to transformational ideas.
You know what often happens when you focus for a time on a project and then step away. New, perhaps even transformational ideas may pop up unexpectedly.
Depending on how your company is structured, novel ideas can float up to your senior team or through your project team.
Alternatively, perhaps the consultant experiences a couple of brainstorms once the project has ended. You will want access to these raw new ideas.
Coming on the heels of intense project focus, they may contain just the right germ of an idea that, when shaped and cultivated, can provide an unforeseen breakthrough that boosts your competitive edge.
Explicitly create the potential for following up with the consultant on promising innovative ideas and approaches after the initial project ends.
=> Keep track of the performance of the consulting firm
Unless you have the memory of an elephant, and you never forget anything, we strongly recommend writing down your assessment of the performance of the Consulting Team all along the project life, including the bid.
Here are the main milestones to analyze a consulting’s project performance:
- The bid,
- Every key deliverable,
- Every milestone,
- End of the project.
When comes the time of closing the project and paying the last invoices, this information, on the performance of the Consulting Firm, will be precious. If everything goes well, you will be able to close neatly the project. If it didn’t, you will have the data to back your potential claims.
=> Build in check-ins as a forcing function.
Finally, assuming that you found the consulting team helpful, build in check-ins at the frequency that matches your business tempo to take a fresh look at what was accomplished and perhaps what needs to be tweaked now to continue to optimize the original investment.
These build-in check-ins as forcing functions will also prevent business as usual from taking over. Procuring the consultant and working through the project aren’t the goals. Sustainable solutions that boost your competitive edge are the goals.
Meeting those goals requires you to lead the company through a follow-up phase once the consulting team leaves to ensure the highest return on your consulting investment.
As you can see, it is that complicated. You just need to be organized and squeeze these elements into your sourcing process.
Trust me on the fact that you’ll get a boost in the impact generated, and as a result, in the satisfaction of your internal clients.
Way to build the trust with them and to be invited in major decisions around consulting.
That’s it for today. Next time, I’ll explain How to draft the right consulting agreement?
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 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 & guides to improve your consulting sourcing.
Bye and see you next week! Au revoir!
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