top of page
  • Robert Murtha

How to Maximize Your Product Consulting Engagement

Updated: Apr 7


two guys and a lady that are consultants

So...what's a Consultant?


noun


1. a person who provides expert advice professionally.


Consultants have a unique role to play in every business landscape. There are a variety of reasons why an organization chooses to partner with one or many consultants. Conceptually, the idea of an "outside entity" that provides "fresh input" and has "unique expertise", is extremely valuable in most cases, but it's not always looked at that way.


Sometimes consultants are the heroes that discover the one thread the company was missing, while other times consultants embarrassingly "hand-wave" strange ideas and survive by reaffirming and placating their customers, resulting in minimal value and a low return on investment. Like everything in life, these experiences exist in a wide spectrum resulting in both positive and negative outcomes.



At Adjective, we think there are core considerations to be made to get the most out of your business consultation. Oftentimes, poor consultant performance is the result of a lack of strategic design, a poorly defined organizational vision, and a misunderstanding of the problems that need to be solved.


You can blame miscommunication, poor direction, a weak definition of success, or a loosely structured outline of expectations, but it almost always comes down to a glaring misalignment between humans.


To enable a better consulting experience, companies should:


  1. ensuring the company strategy is defined and clearly articulated

  2. developing a deep understanding of the problem or need

  3. accurately projecting the potential scope of the engagement

  4. defining success and confirming expectations while determining a way to measure progress

  5. ensuring that there is frequent and transparent communication


Outlining The Strategic Objectives


There is a wide range of objective-tracking frameworks and models to choose from, but every company should be aligning its teams around strategic objectives that are associated with different time intervals. There should be multi-year, annual, quarterly, and monthly objectives. Depending on the framework that is being used, consultants and their projected contributions should align with a variety of objectives. The projected impact of the consultant should be monitored and measured. Determining where a consultant strategically fits should be obvious from the start. This is how you begin to design an effective and valuable consultant engagement.


Understanding the Problem That Needs to Be Solved


Consultants vary in background, skill set, and desired capabilities. Carefully examine the problem you need your consultant to solve. Is it lead generation? Is it process evaluation? Is it to gap fill for a vacant executive position? Or is it something that's more aligned with an "X-as-a-Service" model, such as Marketing, or Legal.


Defining the problem as accurately as possible will help you and your team source the right consultant, accelerate the onboarding process, and enhance the collaboration experience for everyone involved.


Understanding Which Consultant Can Solve Your Problem



Find the right person.


After you define the problem that needs to be solved, spend some time jotting down specific attributes that are required to solve that problem. Those attributes could be associated with a particular consultant or a larger consultancy that specializes in the areas you've outlined. Either way, plan...design...and plan more!


Consultants often orbit big networks and business circles. Many consulting engagements come from recommendations from previously successful engagements with companies in the same network. Do your homework. Understand the problem those companies were trying to solve and research how the particular consultant assisted them. Understand the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that were used to measure the success of their engagement.


Crafting a Strong Service-Level-Agreement (SLA)


Upon receiving the consultant's proposal, craft an SLA based on their Statement of Work. Make it accurate, and introduce strong and reasonable expectations that increase the likelihood of success. These artifacts should increase transparency for both parties. Request feedback from the consultant on the SLA. Find out what's missing, make it collaborative, but ultimately ensure that there are accurate expectations listed in the agreement that makes you feel comfortable about the engagement. The SLA is a formal document that exists in addition to the overarching contract with the consultant.


Maximizing Your Leverage by Gamifying Delivery


Create achievable and meaningful incentives. Be creative with your pricing model negotiation. Depending on the particular consulting services, you could put emphasis on "time-to-resolution", or "quality-of-outcome" by offering creative financial incentives that encourage your partner to achieve things that are beyond their "Statement of Work".



Unless you're simply fishing for connections through this consultant relationship, add additional layers to their delivery. The right consultant wants to be challenged, they will be eager to create more value for a greater reward.


Additionally, lead generation for the Consultant is a powerful thing to offer. Consultants often depend on recommendations, and your high praises could be the thing that lands them their next lucrative and high-impact partnership. Transparently discuss the "reference structure", and make it a focal point of the engagement and delivery expectation. Lead generation is a tremendous value proposition for every consultant.


Finally, document the consulting engagement. Continuously evaluate the relationship and delivery in a transparent way. Understand how it is making your business situation better or worse. Survey teams that are impacted by the consultant's delivery. Interview team members. Interview the consultant. Create recurring one-on-one feedback sessions that focus on the engagement itself rather than just the core deliverables. Depending on how your organization crafts its objectives, incorporate the consultant's impact and contribution metrics with your quarterly, yearly, and long-term strategic reports.


There you have it! An organic overview of how a consulting engagement could be more valuable for you and your team members. Remember to focus on design and preparation. Understand the problem you're trying to solve. Find the right partner. Accurately define success and delivery expectations. Always communicate openly and clearly. You will end up having the most spectacular consulting engagement ever!


Adjective is a design company that focuses on user experience, human factors, and AI Development. The company combines deep technology with human-centered principles to ensure solutions are developed in high-quality and humane ways. Automation is good when it considers the human impact. Currently we are collaborating with exceptional partners in a variety of industries such as: Defense, Academia, Medicine, and Energy. We are a NIST 800-171 compliant company.

Comments


bottom of page