Return on Consulting Engagement

September 7, 2012 by  
Filed under Implementation

The end of each consulting engagement always brings a bittersweet moment when I say good-bye to a client and when we confirm we’ll “look forward to keeping in touch” during the wrap up conference call. I genuinely hope, after our months of collaboration, developing a strategic plan or guiding an organizational change effort, that the product delivers the benefit we diligently worked to refine.

Although my day-to-day interaction ends, my commitment to your success remains. I often consider those necessary next steps that will allow a client to maximize engagement results.  Four specific actions come to mind:

Assign an Owner. Every engagement wrap up typically includes a set of actions for implementation. Assign oversight to an individual to shepherd that implementation. And take it one step further—develop clear performance metrics tied to implementation activities and results.

Execute the recommendations. What must be done in the next 60 days? Who needs to be involved? What resources are needed? Engaging a consultant is always a strategic investment. The real investment, however, doesn’t end when the consultant exits. Having a plan in place and an owner to guide implementation is only the beginning: Execute the recommendations.

Communicate Progress Widely. How does the company communicate progress? Which audiences benefit from that information? What is the message?  How often do you communicate?  Develop a clear communication plan that explicitly defines audience, message, timing, communication tool, and content owner. Revisit the communication plan often to monitor effectiveness; tweak when needed.

Perform 90-180 day Health Checks. Has the progress in executing recommendations met expectations?  What are the successes?  Where do opportunities for improvement exist? Revisit the engagement recommendations and compare them to the progress of the execution. Adjust the ongoing work plan as needed.

After following these steps, what further thoughts do you have on your engagement return on investment?