Hiring a business consultant can help businesses improve performance and make necessary changes to achieve desired success. Business consultants help companies overcome challenges. These challenges may be need to increase revenues, improve productivity, margin growth, operational efficiencies, market development, or sometimes visualize things outside the field of view of company’s management purview. Whatever the challenge may be, it’s important to ensure business consultants have the relevant experience and previous success in their professed area of specialty. More so, adding value as a business consultant comes from becoming “Reliable” to the company, and that is attained by a methodical approach and open relationship with client. Trust must be earned and sustained throughout the relationship.
A business consultant demonstrates early on that they will be an asset to the client when they readily address the legalities required, when they proactively move to align themselves to the client’s legal needs. This is done in the first step that I call the Administrative Phase. This is when the business consultant and client execute the relevant non-disclosure and legal formalities that will protect the business information that will flow between the parties. It may sound basic and simple, but when these are not done at the beginning, before important data exchanges take place, inherent mistrust may ensue. So having these completed and out of the way, set the table for productive relationship between the company and the business consultant. The business consultant should also general work scope or proposal with the caveat that it’s a basis for the deliverable that will be set as the formal work scope.
The second step is for any business consultant is what I call the Discovery Phase. During this phase, a good business consultant takes the time to learn as much as possible about the business from the company personnel, employees. This can include touring the facility, meeting with the board, directors, managers and employees, assessing market access channels, reviewing contract documents, analyzing the finances and reading all relevant company materials. During this process, the business consultant begins to uncover the details of a company’s mission, vision, and operational plans.
Once the business consultant has developed a thorough understanding of the company and its business, they enter what I call the Evaluation Phase. Here the goal is to identify what challenges are sought to be solved or what change is needed. This is the first pass at establishing the deliverable, its viability and relevant metrics. So during this phase broad open discussions with company personnel will be held in order to identify the strengths and weaknesses, problems and opportunities of the plan. With a first pass deliverable conceived, a successful business consultant should then include co-managed objectives as part of that solution. No matter how detailed the deliverable will be, the solution will likely require mutual engagement during project execution of both business consultant and company personnel so its important that this is included.
The next phase, is what I call the Feedback Phase. The business will consultant should feel empowered to give the business owner, company or client, with honest feedback about what has been learned. At this stage it’s very important for the business consultant’s advice t be taken as constructive criticism, as the business consultant brings objectivity and a fresh viewpoint to the company’s business. The business owner or company leadership may be personally vested in the business or department or area needing improvement or change, which can be an obstacle to positive change and growth. Therefore the feedback and provided opinions by the business consultant will formulate the basis for the deliverable and execution plans that will be coming in the next phase.
The next stage is what I call Scope Confirmation Phase. During this phase, the actual formal deliverable will be executed by business consultant and the company. It may sound as unnecessary, because of the disclosures and exchanges held in the past two phases, but this step sets the expectations. Successful business consultant relationships always have a clearly delineated scope with metrics to avoid poorly set expectations. Once the company and the business consultant agree on a Scope of Work, the pan will be put into place.
The next and final phase, is the Delivery Phase. All tasks are executed by consultant and those engaged in the overall solution and work product is delivered. This phase is all about execution and implementation of the plan. Here the business consultant builds assets and eliminates liabilities. An exceptional business consultant will monitor the plan’s progress, adjust as needed and keep client fully apprised of completed tasks. If mistakes are made, the business consultant should be forthcoming and be accountable. This builds and cements trust.
There are many more nuances during consulting engagements that will make a business consultant an asset to the client, but setting expectations, delivering upon them and being accountable will be the most fundamental factors in how a business consultant becomes an asset to any company.