The Five Phases of Consulting: Analysis and Decision (3 of 5)
So far, our fearless consultant has gone through the process of Initiation and begun the patient, deliberate task of Discovery. The third phase of the consulting process moves into what is traditionally considered “planning.” Analysis is lumped in with Decision at the end, because the goal of this step is to manage and deal with risk. Risk may present itself in the form of financial loss, degradation of the organization’s culture, or missed business opportunities. In the initiation and discovery, there was a foundation building process. In the Analysis phase, the walls start to go up.
It may be helpful to include the client in the Analysis process, but it is usually a function of observe, interview and collect. If the consulting need is of any importance at all, there is going to be a significant amount of data to collect. The value that the consultant adds to the process here is mitigating opportunity cost. By focusing on all of the data, there is little value gained and few decisions possible. But by choosing to ignore less valuable data for the sake of high-value data, the process begins to take shape towards a real actionable goal.
It is in this Decision step that the consultant shapes the appearance, limits and impact of the final product. The deliverables are decided on, and the client is at the table for the conversation to help decide, “What is the goal of the project?” If there is no goal, and the tasks assigned to the consultant are just tasks that are not getting done for business right now… then there is no consulting going on. The consultant has become a line manager or augmented staff. But by observing and orienting towards the problem hand and collecting the right data, the consultant can help make the decision regarding what the project is going to accomplish.