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The consulting project cycle
Published on July 1, 2015 21 min
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- Prof. Andrew Sturdy
- University of Bristol, UK
Hello, my name is Calvert Markham, and I've been involved in consultancy most of my life. As well as delivering consulting projects, I've trained hundreds of people in consulting skills all around the world. In this lecture, I'll be describing the consulting project cycle and some of the skills and techniques needed to perform it well. Consultants usually have some sort of specialist knowledge, but the consulting project cycle is something you could use irrespective of your specialism. It's useful whether you're in marketing, IT, HR, or some other technical area. And the process and skills are different from those that you need in an executive role.
There are three main areas of skill needed in consulting address this problem solving. This is at the core of a consultant's work, identifying the nature of the predicament facing an organization and how it might be best addressed. In addition, a consultant is usually from an outside a client organization, or if they're an internal consultant for a different part of an organization. So all of them need to be able to work in a client environment. And finally, works delivered through projects. Unlike the routine administrative work of a manager, projects have a distinct beginning and end, so consultants have to be good project managers. Now all these skills are ones that you might have as a manager or an executive, but when you're a consultant, you need to have them at a much greater extent. And so in this lecture, I'll be talking about some of those additional skills, tools, techniques that you need for being a consultant.
As I've already said, when consultants are working for clients, they typically go through the same sequence of activities. This is called the consulting project cycle. Now there are lots of models of the consulting project cycle. The one we're going to be looking at has five phases. The first is entry. This is when you meet a client for the first time. It sets the basis for the future relationship you have. The next phase is contracting. This is when you're sorting out what you're going to be doing, and how you're going to be doing it. Diagnosis is really the core of the work. Problem solving, if you like. In which you sort out what is the problem, what is the solution, and how it can be best implemented. The next phase is where you work with the client to put your solutions in place. And closure is the completion of the project and withdrawal. Now of course, in practice, a project may not work out as neatly as this, but it's useful to keep this overall cycle in mind when you're involved in delivering consultancy.