Critical to any consulting services project is clarity from the outset about the expected project deliverables.  Best practice suggests having a benefits realisation process in place through the life of the project in order to measure the real success of a project against the original promise made to the business.  Many things can and will change during a project therefore this realisation process must be adaptable.

Not only is it critical to define deliverables at the outset of a project but also to ensure such deliverables are reflected in the commercial and contractual arrangements. Aligning interests across all contracting parties will be central in achieving a successful project.

Most consultancy agreements will entail some form of deliverable; some may be hard-edged and easily quantifiable, (e.g. cost reduction projects), and others may deliver less quantifiable outputs.

Sometimes the desired outcome and the associated value to the organisation can be described clearly at the outset (e.g. solving an operational issue); sometimes the outcome and associated value are uncertain (e.g. developing a new business proposition).  However, every effort should be made to convey the desired outcome of the project, to contract for that deliverable and to ensure benefits are tracked.

There are some critical considerations for a successful outcome:

  • Establishing clear expectations with key stakeholders and agreeing a well-communicated plan [with review points and contingencies] to ensure promised deliverables are on track
  • Adopting a clear and flexible methodology to manage contract and/or commercial change(s) during an engagement
  • Actively tracking and recording all benefits, including those which may be relatively intangible or hard-to-measure.  Benefits should always have a  line of sight back to the original project business case
  • Ensuring that outcomes remain aligned with the associated objectives of key sponsors/stakeholders.  Focus on outputs!

Here is more detail behind these considerations.

Contract Management

The following contract management framework, if adopted early, can help to ensure the right environment is created at the beginning of an opportunity so that the desired outcomes are delivered on time and within budget.

Underpinning essentials Governance and Administration (senior representation)People (roles & responsibilities)

Culture (establishing norms, practices and enthusiasm)

End-to-end plan (‘spine’) to maintain sponsorship throughout the project

Core Management Performance (target/KPI measurement & reviews to keep close check on outcomes)Operational relationship (regular meetings, honest culture, escalation process)

Payment (consider all varieties but audit deliverables and check invoice)

Development Contract change and development (clear change management processes)Joint learning (how can the buyer help the supplier and vice versa)

Relationship management

Market management