2012 proved to be challenging for the self-employed professional advisor. Some commentators are saying that 2013 will bring a return to growth, others are less optimistic... but as Sam Goldwyn once said "Never make forecasts especially about the future".
However even when that sought after assignment is won there are still potential hazards to be aware of.
As professional advisors we need to take as much responsibility as the client for ensuring that the engagement meets expectations.
Below are some thoughts on the issues that can arise if the process of engaging and utilising a professional advisor is not completed professionally. These are a distillation of conversations with other professionals, personal experience, and wisdom derived from articles read and presentations attended over the course of my career to date.
Consultancy engagements go wrong because of 7 client failures
Failure to Define
Even if the project is still in its infancy, it is essential that the scope, objectives, parameters and outcomes of the project be defined. Client failure to define the scope of the project and deliverables at the outset sets the project up for failure from Day 1
Failure to Select
Client failure to select the right advisor can be as a result of, for example:
- Not matching capabilities with those required of the project
- Insufficient time allowed for a thorough selection process (short-listing, screening, interviewing, reference checking etc.)
Failure to Induct
Failure to induct an advisor into the organisation, department and project can set the advisor up for failure from the word 'go'.
Tips for an effective advisor induction:
Meet with advisor on Day 1 to achieve the following:
- Build rapport
- Clarify project scope and deliverables: Confirm advisor key performance indicators/project deliverables and milestones/timelines
- Confirm expectations, reporting lines and autonomy: Agree on methods and regularity of communication and updates
Introduce the advisor to the project team members and key stakeholders
Inform key stakeholders confirming the appointment of an advisor, briefly outline their background and capability, their assignment and seek stakeholders' assistance in working with the advisor
Failure to Communicate
Professional advisors require the same level of communication and updating that regular team members and full-time employees warrant. Treat professional advisors as you yourself would want to be treated and you will be more than half way there in avoiding this common mistake.
Failure to Delegate
Professional advisors are able to provide valuable assistance, insight, research, methodologies, innovative ideas and share experiences relevant to the project. Clients must tap into what is often a vast number of experiences gained over their consulting career. One of the most common mistakes made by clients is failure to capitalise on this experience!
Failure to Trust
Failure to trust in the advisor's skills, experience and abilities can again, minimise the effectiveness and value the advisor can provide to the project.
There is no mistaking the challenge and time involved in developing trust in an advisor. However it is strongly recommended that once clients have provided solid direction regarding expectations, tools, preferred layouts, methodologies, objectives, timelines and deliverables, that they have a loose reign on the advisor from the outset to allow them to showcase the quality of their work.
Failure to Review
As with all projects it is essential to regularly review progress. So it follows that it is important to regularly review the advisor's progress with the project.