The consultancy framework

This week, in part two of our series on the art of consultancy, we turn our attention to the framework of a consultancy project. In particular, we look at what this means if you’re an in-house functional specialist, someone who, although an employee of an organisation, is actually operating as a consultant.

Each consultancy project, whether it lasts 10 minutes or 10 years, moves through several phases: there is a shape to the process. If consultancy projects go wrong, it is most often due to the consultant’s mishandling of one or more of these phases, especially the first three. It’s not linear, though – you need to keep an eye on these key stages throughout the engagement, and may at any point need to ‘refresh’ them.

Improve Your Consulting Skills

Work with Leaders Lab…

The seven key stages you move through in the consultancy process are, not necessarily in this order (‘clients’ in this context are your internal, in-house clients, to whom you need to market your professional services):

Building trust:

  1. Making initial contact: creating a rapport with a new client or developing it with an existing one
  2. Gaining entry – earning the right to be your internal ‘client’s’ consultant (even more important if they don’t have much of a choice!)

Creating the possibility:

  1. Contracting with a client: the skills required to build a working relationship
  2. Agreeing your client’s requirements and collecting relevant data
  3. Designing and managing a consultancy strategy and style

Getting into action:

  1. Problem solving, feedback and implementation
  2. Dis- or re-engagement and follow up: feedback on how far the situation has been resolved and discussion of any proposed follow-on services

It is vital as a consultant that you know, at all times, where you are in the consultation process and apply skills appropriate to that stage; if you fail to react appropriately at any stage, it can lead to confusion, finger-pointing, frustration and mutual loss of confidence.

Want to discuss this process in more detail? Find out more about the Leaders Lab Consultancy Skills Programme which is specifically aimed at in-house specialists in IT, HR, Marketing or similar service functions.

The final part of our consultancy skills series of blog posts will be published next week, focusing on the key consultancy styles.

More to Read:

How to Cope When Business is Bad
Are You a Happy Leader?
Time Management: Clearing the Logjam