Any company that provides a service to another company is technically in the consulting business.
Think about it; you can’t install or sell anything without identifying the need or problem that needs to be solved, researching the best options, and making recommendations. That’s all consulting. So whether you fancy yourself one or not, you’re probably a consultant.
Though at a high level consulting might seem like a cake walk, anyone who’s done it knows gobs of things can go wrong throughout the process. A few overlooked items in the beginning can lead to migraines later.
That’s why we’ve dedicated this post to educating you on the most common mistakes we’ve encountered in our 30+ years of consulting.
1. Not Benchmarking.
You’ll never know whether you were success or not if you don’t carefully spell out what the client is trying to achieve and what a successful project outcome entails.
Tip: Really take the time to put the end goal on paper, give the client a chance to review/confirm it’s accurate (or edit as needed), and then save it for later. Every good case study is built around metrics. If you knock a project out of the park, consider asking the client for a testimonial.
2. Failing to Capture All Consulting Time.
An hour here, a few minutes there, it all adds up to a mound of billable time. Don’t let even a minute of time slip through your fingers. Giving away your time lends itself to burnout. And in the end, you might end up resenting the client. And to be fair, they’ll never know how much time you invest in their project unless bill them for it.
Tip: Make a point of encouraging every employee to track every minute they work. This can be tough to do manually, but luckily there are a plethora of solutions to help you track time more efficiently—ConnectWise is one of them.
3. Working in Silos.
If you don’t involve every team touched by the consulting project in the review process for the project, you’re setting yourself up for failure. You have to talk to everyone involved in the beginning and throughout the process to make sure you’re not going to ruin someone’s work experience.
Tip: Before you start a consulting project, make a point of asking which teams use and will be affected by changes you’ll recommend, and then ask for an experienced representative from each group to be nominated to help stress test your plans for his/her respective job type.
4. Not Clearly Defining SOWs.
If you don’t clearly create and capture statements of work before you begin projects, you risk becoming the victim of scope creep and any number of other he-said-she-said squabbles with the client. This hurts your profitability and productivity.
Tip: Be very specific about what a client can (or can’t) expect to receive as part of their service package. Identify what types of activities are above and beyond the scope of work they’ve selected, and then take the time to document it all in a statement of work (SOW).
By avoiding the 4 most common consulting mistakes listed above, you’ll be able to protect your profitability, and spend more time consulting than debating with clients over what is and isn’t covered under their agreement. Stay tuned for more helpful consulting tips to be posted soon!