A consulting project is a multi-week, project between a client and a consultant/team of consultants whose goal is to solve a key problem faced by the firm.
The project is created to provide the client with an external expert opinion on a matter of an operational or strategic importance. The project may target long term strategic planning (for example, a ten-year product strategy plan), or more immediate goals such as cost reduction, mergers or acquisitions, or corporate restructuring. The value a consulting team provides not only includes an in depth and external analysis of the problem but also an assessment on the ramifications associated with implementing a particular plan.
Stages of engaging in a consultancy project using design thinking processes:
Defining the Problem
One of the most critical stages in a project’s life cycle is defining the problem that needs to be solved. An erroneous definition, or misalignment of expectations during the early stages of a project may lead to months of futile work. Although a client will hire a consultant with a defined problem in mind, a good consultant can quickly differentiate problem symptoms from causes and work with the client to expand or redefine the project scope. Moreover, at the outset of a project it is very important to define what questions need to be addressed, what work methods will be employed, what data sources and corporate resources are available, and what ultimately will be the final work deliverable.
Data Gathering and Research
During the project’s early stages, the consultant’s primary objective will be to familiarize themselves with the organisation, the challenges it faces and the market context of the organisation. Research will help define the key strategic problems that need to be addressed. In parallel, in-depth research regarding industry and market trends will be conducted alongside a review of previous projects of a similar nature. A strong consulting team will leverage its research skills to identify similar projects in order to obtain a larger perspective, and apply best-practice from the academic literature.
Upon completing the data gathering and analysis exercise a final presentation will be composed summarizing the efforts, results, implications, and recommendations. One of the core assets consultants develop, and make them highly prized in industry, is the ability to take complex information and analyses and boil them down to straightforward presentations with recommendations.