The Five Phases of Consulting: Engagement and Implementation (4 of 5)

by paulgebel

This week we’ve been going through a generic consulting process laid by master consultant Peter Block in his third edition of Flawless Consulting. Before we jump right into Engagement, it’s important to pause at this mid-point to consider just why process is so important in the first place. Problems can be solved on an ad-hoc basis, and an expert advisor may be able to add value through simple observation and reporting. Process informs a client of your value as a consultant and provides structure to the value you’re adding. In a way, the medium is the message. The value isn’t necessarily in the epiphany of process improvement or market capitalization. The value is in the discovery, consensus, and as we’ll see now, the Implementation. To see where we’ve come, the process we’ve mapped out so far looks like this:

  1. Iniitation
  2. Discovery
  3. Analysis and Decision

In the Engagement and Implementation phase, the process takes us through the execution of the plans developed in Analysis. The reason to separate this from the last step, especially in defining scope, schedule and budget, is to set expectations within the responsibility matrix. (You’ve set this up for your project, right?) The execution post-analysis may actually be the full responsibility of the project sponsor on the client’s team. Or in very sophisticated project settings, the consultant may remain deeply involved. Regardless of the level, it is important for the implementation to be a smooth – but very deliberate – transition from the Analysis phase.

The biggest risk of scope creep presents itself in this phase, so getting this right before it’s begun is critical to project hand-off and – more importantly – client satisfaction.