How to Crush Low Performance and Other Project Issues With Our 5 Best Tips
“Collaboration is like carbonation for fresh ideas. Working together bubbles up ideas you would not have come up with solo, which gets you further faster.” – Caroline Ghosn
If you worry about team performance, the risks, and the issues associated with a Consulting project, you are totally right. But instead of contemplating, when you face low performance or other issues working on a Consulting project, it’s best to deal with them using the smartest methods and technics. Also, we should probably emphasize smooth and productive collaboration between all team members, as it is one of the key success factors.
So how to drive the performance of the project and avoid potential issues?
Check out our best, proven tips.
Manage the Consulting Category
Over the past 20 years, the growth of in-house consulting groups has been one of the most notable elements of change in the fast-moving Consulting Industry.
Collaboration internally between the business lines and procurement to chose the best consulting firm to work with. And collaboration between your teams and the consulting team to get the best outcome for the project.
Defining your project team with the best talents might be as important as working with the right consultants. Your project sponsor has to put her weight to support the project and get the buy-in of the other decision-makers. Your project manager must have the energy and credibility to make the project achieve your goals.
If you chose right, they would embark the rest of your collaborators on the journey, and the consulting firm will be in the best position to deliver high-quality work.
The time you allocate to the project is also crucial. It should have been part of the discussion at the proposal stage: what contribution are the consultants expecting of your teams? However, it is always a little difficult to anticipate how the project will unfold. If your team is understaffed, or not available for the consultants, it can very quickly become a bottleneck for the project.
Be clear with the different business lines involved in the project of the priority you give to the project. If your project is highly strategic, maybe you should reallocate some part of your project manager’s duties to someone else. Or maybe you should reevaluate the timeline of your project if your teams have higher priorities.
The role of the Steering Committee is to make decisions indeed, but also to make sure that the project is delivering on time and quality. At every major step, the consulting firm should report to the Steering Committee on the work done, the challenges met, and the next steps.
For short projects, the monitoring becomes more merged with the reception. But for larger projects, you can use the regular meetings to check the delivery and involve the stakeholders in measuring the performance.
A low performance might involve several factors, sometimes simultaneously.
There can be many reasons for a Consulting Team to be unable to deliver the quality or timeline expected. According to our research, the main reason for dissatisfaction with consultants is the mismatch between the expertise of the consultants and the client’s expectations. Clients often reproach their consulting providers with not understanding their business or not customizing enough their delivery to the context of their company.
However, the reasons are rarely one-sided. Maybe the context has changed since the project started, or the project has unveiled some issues that are making the delivery more complicated than expected. We recommend asking the consultants to make their case and justify a change in the contract, if any.
Consulting is also about people and fit. The consultants might have a hard time interacting with your teams. Alternatively, you might find the consultant too aggressive or too wishy-washy. It can also be that the consulting team is understaffed. Sizing a team for a project is always a tricky exercise, even for experienced consulting partners.
Don’t hesitate to discuss with the Consulting firm and ask for a replacement, even for the partner.
Never forget that the Consulting firm has committed to the results and not the means. That is why we recommend adding the deliverables in the contract. Even if the pricing and the proposal were made with a certain team composition, you can definitely ask for changes on the team if the delivery is significantly impacted in time or quality. As a rule of thumb, unless the context of the project or the deliverables are changed, the movements in the consulting team should not impact the price you pay for the project.
For long projects with a significant change dimension, include change reinforcing elements in your communication. For instance, you can communicate on early successes and progress. It will help to keep the momentum.
Also, most consulting projects are going beyond pure transactional activities and will include a human dimension. Even though you want to keep your distance with your providers so that they don’t become too comfy with your company, you need to maintain a close collaboration with the consulting team. Having this close connection will allow you to address elements that you don’t necessarily want to address in a larger audience, to have an early warning system and to correct course in real-time. It is particularly true for stakeholders management.
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Hélène Laffitte is the CEO of Consulting Quest, a Global Performance-Driven Consulting Platform and author of “Smart Consulting Sourcing”, a step by step guide to getting the best ROI from your consulting. With a blend of experience in Procurement and Consulting, Hélène is passionate about helping Companies create more value through Consulting.