Value and Impact: The Ultimate Yardsticks for Success in Consulting Projects

In the fast-paced world of business, organizations often turn to consulting services to navigate complex challenges, drive innovation, and achieve strategic goals. Yet, amidst the myriad of consultants and projects, how can businesses ensure they are truly maximizing the value of these engagements?

Navigating the complexity of evaluating consulting value requires more than just a casual approach. It calls for a combination of strategic planning, structured evaluation, and a commitment to continuous improvement. Join us on this episode of our Smart Consulting Sourcing podcast as we embark on this thrilling expedition. Delve into expert insights, uncover practical tips, and unearth hidden strategies. Tune in.

Key Takeaways

  • Success in consulting hinges on systematically measuring consultants’ delivered value, not just recognizing it.
  • Utilize feedback from internal stakeholders as a straightforward method to assess the true value of consulting services.
  • To gauge the true impact of consulting services, organizations need a structured, systematic approach, not just ad-hoc assessments.
  • Conducting regular supplier reviews based on structured feedback aids in consultant improvement and strengthens the client-consultant relationship.
  • Approach negotiations with consulting firms strategically, aiming for a win-win scenario that balances workload and project costs.
  • Organizations should reassess consulting engagements when the return seems unclear or the cost-benefit analysis is unfavorable, considering integrity and long-term alignment.
  • Implement mechanisms for evaluating consulting engagements against predefined success metrics to ensure alignment with organizational objectives.


Welcome back to Smart Consulting Sourcing, the definitive podcast for insights into the world of consulting procurement. My name is Helene and I’m your host, and today we shall continue from where we left off last week. In today’s episode, we’ll delve into the ultimate measure of success in consulting projects: the impact and true value delivered.

Reflecting on last week’s discussion about the importance of trust in consulting and the process of selecting the right consultants, we identified that consulting shares its foundational principles with other professional services, such as legal.

Central to these principles are trust, compatibility, and impact, highlighting the importance of human-to-human interactions. These elements remind us that decisions are driven by relationships, emphasizing that successful business engagements hinge on working with people we trust and resonate with.

The human aspect is not just vital; it’s the cornerstone of project success. However, it’s also crucial to navigate personal biases and relationship dynamics carefully to prevent them from skewing decision-making processes.

This brings us to the concept of ‘fit.’ It’s essential for companies to partner with consultants who not only possess the right expertise but also blend well with their teams, ensuring a harmonious and productive collaboration.

Achieving this balance is key to realizing truly effective and unbiased results. Today, we’ll build on these insights, focusing on how impact and value become the ultimate barometers of success in any consulting engagement.

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Alright then! Now back to today’s episode where I’m going to talk about assessing impact and true value in consulting. Plus, I will be shedding light on the unique nature of consulting negotiations and finally finish with another dimension to consulting, which is the personal aspirations and career management goals of individual executives. Okay then, let’s get started.

Assessing Impact and True Value

So, how do help your internal stakeholders move out of their comfort zones? Well, I’ve got two words for you: Impact and value. They are the ultimate barometer of success in a consulting project. When a consultant consistently delivers significant value, it’s natural to question the need for change.

This underscores the importance of not just recognizing but also systematically and consistently measuring the value delivered by consultants. Such an approach ensures that consultants provide substantial benefits, not just at the outset but over the long haul. But herein lies a challenge: How do you measure something as multifaceted as the value of consulting services?

Consulting’s value can manifest in various forms, ranging from the easily quantifiable, such as cost savings and revenue growth, to the more intangible, like cultural shifts or enhancements in leadership effectiveness. And then there are the long-term projects, those focusing on strategy or innovation, whose impacts unfold over years, making immediate value assessment challenging.

So, how do organizations navigate this complexity? The workaround might be simpler than we think: feedback from your internal stakeholders. They are the ones experiencing the consultants’ impact firsthand, making their insights invaluable. Asking for feedback, particularly the straightforward question of whether they believe they’re getting the right value for money, can reveal volumes about the true ROI of consulting services.

This approach, however, requires breadth; it necessitates gathering perspectives from various project participants, including the sponsor, the project manager, and other key stakeholders. Each may have different objectives and, consequently, unique insights into the consultants’ performance.

Navigating the complexity of evaluating the true value and impact of consulting services requires more than just an ad-hoc approach; it demands a structured, systematic methodology. Here’s how organizations can effectively manage this process:

First and foremost, it’s essential to have a clear, consistent process for evaluating all consulting assignments. This means every project, regardless of size, strategic importance, or nature, must go through a standardized evaluation. Such a process ensures that no project slips through the cracks and that every consulting engagement is assessed on its merits and contributions.

The next step involves defining precisely what to evaluate and determining who is responsible for each aspect of this evaluation. This requires careful consideration of what success looks like for your organization and, by extension, what makes a consulting project successful. The criteria set out should cover a broad range of factors, from tangible results like cost savings and revenue growth to more intangible outcomes such as improvements in organizational culture or strategic direction.

To effectively gauge the value and impact of consulting services, it’s vital to clarify the questions asked in the feedback process. These questions should be designed to elicit insights that are directly relevant to your organization’s goals and priorities. At the same time, they need to be generic enough to allow for the consolidation and comparison of results across different projects. This approach enables the identification of patterns and trends, facilitating ongoing performance monitoring.

Armed with this structured feedback, organizations should then conduct regular supplier reviews. These reviews provide an opportunity to discuss the feedback with consultants, highlighting areas of strength and identifying opportunities for improvement. It’s a chance to engage in open dialogue about performance and expectations, fostering a relationship based on transparency and mutual growth.

Implementing such a process has multiple benefits. It creates a culture of continuous improvement and accountability, ensuring that consultants are always striving to deliver their best work. Moreover, it helps organizations make informed decisions about which consultants to continue working with and when it might be time to explore new partnerships.

Consultants themselves often welcome this feedback. In a profession driven by the delivery of value and impact, constructive feedback is gold—it provides them with a clear direction for how they can better meet their clients’ needs and expectations.

Regular reviews based on structured feedback not only help consultants improve but also contribute to the deepening of the client-consultant relationship, making it more productive and aligned with organizational objectives.

The Unique Nature of Consulting Negotiations

Another element that makes Consulting unique is how it is negotiated. Unlike your run-of-the-mill business dealings, negotiations in the consulting realm are akin to a high-wire act—everything is up for grabs, and balance is key. Let me paint you a picture from a recent dialogue I had with a client about negotiating their Master Services Agreement (MSA).

At first glance, you might think, “Ah, it’s all about the money,” but hold that thought. We kicked off by charting out our approach, pinning down deliverables, and setting timelines. But that was just the appetizer. The main course involved dissecting the ‘who does what,’ which directly influences the level of support and, by extension, the price.

Our goal? To strike a harmonious balance between their workload and the project’s cost. Then, as we waded deeper into our negotiation, we broached the subject of fees and how to weave in some value sharing—aiming to snugly fit within their budget while still scoring our goals.

You see, negotiations in consulting are a multifaceted dance, touching upon scope, methodology, deliverables, staffing, project organization, and yes, price. It’s a comprehensive negotiation that requires a keen understanding of both what you want to achieve and the value you’re offering.

Now, how do we navigate these complex negotiations effectively, ensuring they align with both parties’ goals and values? Here are a few strategies that might just do the trick:

When entering into negotiations with a consulting firm, it’s essential to approach the table with a clear strategy. This doesn’t just facilitate smoother discussions; it ensures that the outcomes align closely with your organization’s needs and goals.

Let’s break down this approach into five key rules:

#1. Know What You Want

Before the first meeting, take a deep dive into what you aim to achieve with the consulting engagement. This involves understanding not just the immediate project requirements but the broader business objectives behind them. What challenges are you facing? What does success look like for your organization, and how can a consulting partnership help you get there? Having a clear picture of your desired outcomes will guide the negotiation and help you articulate your needs more effectively.

#2. Show a United Front

Alignment among your internal stakeholders is non-negotiable. Before engaging with consultants, ensure that everyone from leadership to the project team has a unified vision of the project’s goals, scope, and expected outcomes. This consensus should be reflected in your negotiations, presenting a cohesive understanding of what you’re seeking from the consulting engagement. A united front not only strengthens your negotiating position but also signals to the consulting firm that your organization is serious and prepared.

#3. Build Trust

Trust is the cornerstone of any successful consulting relationship. From the outset, strive to build a rapport with the consulting firm. This means engaging in open, honest communication, expressing your needs clearly, and showing openness to the consultants’ suggestions and concerns. Trust-building goes both ways; it’s about showing respect for the consultants’ expertise and experience while also expecting a commitment to your organization’s best interests.

#4. Come from a Position of Strength

Entering negotiations from a position of strength doesn’t mean being inflexible or demanding. Instead, it’s about being well-informed and prepared. This includes having a good understanding of the consulting market, knowing the value of the services you’re seeking, and being clear on your budget constraints. It also means being aware of your alternatives and having a clear strategy for the engagement. This preparation ensures that you can negotiate terms that are both fair and aligned with your strategic goals.

#5. Know When to Walk Away

Finally, it’s crucial to recognize that not every consulting firm will be the right fit for your project, and that’s okay. Be prepared to walk away from negotiations if the terms don’t meet your needs or if the partnership doesn’t feel right. This could be due to misaligned goals, a lack of trust, or financial terms that don’t fit your budget. Knowing when to walk away is a powerful aspect of negotiating, ensuring that you ultimately partner with a consultancy that truly aligns with your organization’s values and objectives.

Consulting Beyond Business Interests

Despite all of this, there’s another dimension to consulting that underscores its unique place in the business landscape: the personal aspirations and career management goals of individual executives.

Sometimes, the drive to engage consulting services extends beyond the straightforward interests of the company. Executives, in their quest to broaden their influence or navigate their career paths, might seek out consultants for reasons that intertwine closely with their personal ambitions.

This could be because a particular consultant has the ear of the CEO or because they’ve played a pivotal role in past successes. Trust, as we’ve discussed, is multifaceted and can emerge from various motivations, including personal career management.

But how do we navigate these waters, where the lines between personal benefit and company gain begin to blur? It’s a delicate situation, indeed. Let’s be candid: if a consultant is delivering substantial value—benefiting not just the sponsor but the business at large—then the arrangement often goes unquestioned.

The spotlight of scrutiny only intensifies when the perceived value to the company doesn’t match the investment or when the benefits seem disproportionately skewed towards individual interests rather than the collective good of the organization.

So, what’s the litmus test here? Once again, it circles back to the concept of value. Evaluating the impact and return on investment of consulting engagements becomes paramount. When the value delivered is tangible, quantifiable, and aligns with the broader objectives of the business, the rationale for such partnerships remains solid.

However, when questions arise about the sufficiency of this value—when the return seems nebulous or the cost-benefit analysis tilts unfavorably—that’s when organizations must take a step back and reassess.

This reassessment isn’t just about numbers; it’s about integrity, alignment, and the long-term vision of the company. It involves asking hard questions about whether the consulting engagement is propelling the company forward or if it’s serving a narrower set of interests.

In such scenarios, transparency and accountability become your North Star. It’s crucial for organizations to have mechanisms in place that allow for the evaluation of consulting engagements against clear, predefined metrics of success. This ensures that decisions are made with a panoramic view of what’s best for the company, balancing individual ambitions with the collective goals of the organization.


As we conclude today’s session, let’s consolidate our insights. Consulting is inherently unique and strategic, capable of significantly enhancing your business’s value. However, its intangible nature complicates project scoping, value measurement, and negotiation. The key to navigating these challenges is to introduce structured processes in a thoughtful way, allowing you to leverage the full benefits of consulting services without compromising their need for creativity and flexibility.

Moreover, there’s a personal and emotional dimension to consider. Your internal stakeholders may form personal relationships with their consultants. This adds another layer of complexity, requiring a delicate balance in managing these relationships carefully to ensure they don’t cloud judgment or decision-making.

Acknowledging and addressing this emotional component is crucial in maintaining objectivity and maximizing the value of your consulting engagements. Striking this balance between process discipline, flexibility, and emotional intelligence is a demanding yet vital exercise for optimizing consulting outcomes.

For those keen on exploring these subjects further, I’ve compiled a selection of resources designed to deepen your knowledge.

Insight: “How to Negotiate with Consultants: The Definitive Guide“: This article breaks down the art of negotiation within the consulting space. Discover what to negotiate beyond price, how to approach these negotiations, and strategies to ensure you’re getting the best value from your consulting partnerships.

Episode 125 of this Podcast, “How Consultants Create Value for Your Business?“: Revisit one of our episodes where we unpack the value that consultants bring to your business. We explore different ways consultants can drive change, innovation, and efficiency, shedding light on the tangible and intangible benefits of their services.

You can discover all these resources and more on our website,, within the ‘Thought Leadership’ section.

Looking ahead to our next episode, we’re gearing up to dive into the fascinating realm of Asymmetrical Information and its relevance to the world of consulting. Join me next week as we unpack this concept and explore its implications in greater depth. See you there!

Thank you for tuning in to today’s episode! Your thoughts and feedback mean the world to me, so don’t hesitate to reach out on LinkedIn or via email at I’m always up for a chat! And if there are any topics you’d love to hear about in future episodes, send them my way too. Can’t wait to hear from you!

Until next time, stay safe and keep up the smart consulting sourcing game. Au revoir for now, and happy sourcing!

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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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