Proven Consulting Process: 4 Steps To Successful Projects (2022)

Do you have a reliable consulting process?

In this post, you’ll learn how to develop a consulting process that makes your projects smooth, successful, stress-free — and create greater results for your clients.

If your current consulting process feels messy or disorganized, you’ll learn how to deliver your consulting services with more structure and confidence.

(Watch the video version of this post below or read the transcript below, where I’ve included additional details, examples, and best practices)

Three Benefits Of Having A Consulting Process

First, this 4-step consulting process makes your life easier.

Why?

Because it makes it easier for you to…

  • Organize how you deliver projects
  • Make a list of the tasks you must complete
  • Determine who is responsible for what
  • Start to delegate aspects of the project

With a repeatable consulting process, you’ll have a lot more clarity during projects. You’ll know when to do what, and when. You’ll work through each project in a logical progression.

Second, the more you develop and run your process, you’ll discover ways to make it more efficient.

It opens up the opportunity for you to scale your consulting business by scaling your delivery methods.

EXAMPLE: Instead of offering a customized consulting service for each client, you create a productized discovery offer that predictably and reliably creates your client’s desired result.

Using a step-by-step consulting process allows you to run your business in a more efficient, profitable manner.

The third reason is that clients like to see that you have a process. It’s a powerful method for building trust.

They want to know you’re not doing things “off the seat of your pants.”

(Video) Proven 4 Stage Consulting Project Process

If they know you’re using a process that has delivered the results they want, they’ll feel much less risk investing in your services.

Now, let’s dive into the four steps of the consulting process.

Proven Consulting Process: 4 Steps To Successful Projects (1)

Step 1. Assess/Discovery

Step one is what we call “Assess.”

In this phase, you are assessing the client’s situation and current condition. This is also commonly referred to as a discovery offer.

This first step helps you understand…

  • What is going on in your client’s organization
  • What opportunities there are
  • What threat/problems exist
  • What can be done to improve their condition

This step gives you clarity on how to progress through the rest of the consulting process.

The outcome — the deliverable from this — is that you are going to put together a high-level plan. This plan includes your recommendations.

Your clients love this because they get a sense of where things are at and how best to move forward.

NOTE: Use meaningful questions to go deeper into the client’s situation. Use this step to identify the underlying problems and potential opportunities.

When you sell this phase as a stand-alone project — a “discovery offer” — there are major benefits for both you and the client.

You’re NOT saying: “Hey, this is going to be a $100,000 project. We’re going together into it right away, and we’ll figure things out as we start the engagement.”

Instead, in this step, you’re saying: “Here’s what I see, and here are the next steps.”

Unlike the former, the latter statement is all about assessment.

Assessing the client’s situation gives you clarity which helps you prepare recommendations for the client.

(Video) 4 Proven Ways to Earn Higher Fees With Every Consulting Proposal

From there, you adjust the rest of your service delivery based on your assessment.

This step ensures that the rest of the process is more efficient, effective, and creates better results.

Remember: each part of this consulting process can be sold individually.

EXAMPLE: Let’s say your buyer comes in. They start with you at step 1: the assessment phase.

If for some reason they decide they don’t want to move on to step 2, that’s okay.

Give them that choice. Most clients will want to continue working with you through the remaining steps. They won’t get all the benefits and their desired result unless they go through every stage of the process.

But giving them that ability to say, “Hey, let’s take a break,” or “I don’t want to move forward,” helps with risk reversal.

They have a lot less hesitation because they feel like they have much more control over the process. And they can, because they get to choose whether or not to move forward.

Step 2. Plan

The second phase of the consulting process here is what we call “Plan.”

You might be saying, “You just said plan in the 1st step. What’s the difference?”

The difference is that the second step is a much more detailed plan.

Instead of a high-level plan, think strategic recommendations. Think step-by-step.

In “Assess” you’re giving high-level recommendations and a high-level plan of what should come next.

In “Plan” you say, “Okay. We’ve done the initial assessment. Here’s what we know we need to do. Here’s what has to happen for this project to succeed.”

EXAMPLE: Let’s say you’re a marketing consultant who works with accounting firms looking to get more clients.

(Video) The Strategy Consulting Process: How McKinsey, Bain & BCG Consultants Solve Problems

In step 1, you assessed their marketing materials: their website, content, paid advertising, and social media. You provided them with a high-level assessment of what is wrong with their marketing and the opportunity for improvement.

In step 2, you will provide them with a specific, detailed, and tactical plan for how you’ll improve their marketing materials.

During “Plan,” you get into developing the specific, strategic, step-by-step plan of what’s going to happen during the next step: the implementation.

Step 3. Implementation

Next is what we call “Implementation” or “Implement.”

This is where you implement the strategic recommendations from step 2.

Continuing with our example.

In this step, you’ll implement the plan to improve your client’s marketing.

EXAMPLE:

  • Adjusting their positioning
  • Improving their SEO
  • Re-designing their marketing materials

Depending on how you structure your service offer, you may or may not be the person doing the implementation.

If you’re like most consultants, you’ll be guiding or advising the team responsible for implementation.

However, you don’t just implement a project and then you’re finished forever.

There are always going to be ways to refine, improve, and optimize the client’s situation.

That’s what the next phase, “Optimization,” is all about.

Step 4. Optimization

The final phase is one that many consultants don’t think about. It’s the “Optimization” phase, and it’s powerful.

If you’re trying to improve something (like a client’s business), you don’t just do a single improvement and think that you’re done.

(Video) Consulting Business Model - 3 Proven Approaches

There are always ways to refine, improve, and optimize. That’s what this step is about.

By now in the consulting process, you’ve implemented your plan. Now that you’ve implemented it, you’ll get some feedback and data.

You’ll learn what levels of success you’ve created and what can be improved further.

There’s still going to be more work to do if you want to continue improving your client’s condition — or if you want to maintain that level of improvement.

That’s when you’ll begin optimization.

In this step, the output is ongoing implementation.

You’ll deliver services like:

  • Ongoing coaching
  • Training
  • Mentorship
  • Working with or leading teams

There’s a lot of different ways that you can deliver value to your clients during optimization. It’s usually ongoing or for a set period of time. Retainer agreements are perfect for this phase.

During the optimization phase, you may find that you’re going back again and working on the early parts of the process. That’s OK. As long as you’re continually providing value to your client, they’ll continually invest in your services.

Imperfect Action: Plan Your Consulting Process

We’ve gone over the four steps of the consulting process that you’ll use to deliver value to your clients:

  • Assess
  • Plan
  • Implement
  • Optimize

There are variations to the process. Some consultants might have five or six steps. But these 4 steps give you a solid foundation on which to build.

Now it’s your turn.

Using these 4 steps, map the consulting process for your consulting business:

  • How will you assess the client’s situation?
  • What will your plan look like to help them reach their goals?
  • How will you go about implementing your plan?
  • Once the project is done, how can you optimize and continually improve the client’s results?

By answering these questions, you’ll build your solid consulting process — and create better results for your clients.

(Video) 4 Step Methodology - IDEX Consulting

What’s your current consulting process look like?

Where do you feel you could make the most improvements?

Join the discussion and leave a comment below.

FAQs

What are the four phases of consulting skills? ›

These phases are acquiring projects (pre-project phase), consulting practices, communicating results (post-project phase), and coordinating expectations (see Fig. ...

What are the five phases of consulting? ›

Contact, Discussion, Negotiation, Implementation and Evaluation, these are the active stages of the consulting process as I experience it.

What makes a successful consultancy? ›

Succeeding in the consulting industry is all about demonstrating your value and reliability. That means you'll need to make sure you follow through on any agreements you make and stick to timelines. If you say you'll be there for a meeting, be there – accountability goes a long way towards building trust.

What is a consultancy process? ›

Consulting Process means a series of activities involved in the seeking for and provision of expert advice at a price. Ideally, this process involves two main actors the consultant and client.

What is a consultancy cycle? ›

This consists of making initial contact with our client and starting to build a relationship of mutual trust and respect. We want to find out all about our client and their situation, as well as getting to know something about the problem/opportunity we are there to assist with.

What is a consulting model? ›

The traditional consulting business model is based on two principle ideas: (1) hiring people (top talent if possible) and (2) charging clients a fee per hour or day for gaining access to this talent, its expertise and/or manpower.

What are the fundamentals of the consulting approach? ›

Identify mental models and bias and understand their impact on decision making. To understand the sources of creativity and strengthen your creative thinking. Learn about personal and organisational change and how to influence them. Recognise the factors to affecting successful change and overcoming resistance.

How do you structure a consulting engagement? ›

Engagement management has five major phases: proposal, kickoff, delivery, closure, and archive. The proposal has a project charter with three key components. A statement of work with background, scope, approach, and assumptions. The SOW specifies the deliverables that'll be provided to the client.

What is the first step in management consulting service? ›

1. Entry and contract. This is the first step of the consulting process where the clients tests the consulting firms skills and the company learns if it is capable of the project.

What is a consulting engagement? ›

In a consulting engagement, the consultant helps the client create the subject matter. Warning! Here comes the crude part! On a consulting engagement, the consultant is helping to make the baby (the subject matter), and on an audit, the auditor is being asked to say whether the baby is ugly.

How do you manage consulting effectively? ›

Eight Steps to Consultancy Success
  1. Build a balanced relationship. ...
  2. Clarify the role. ...
  3. Define direction. ...
  4. Practice scope control. ...
  5. Get them up and running quickly. ...
  6. Cement trust with the team. ...
  7. Provide feedback. ...
  8. Be vigilant.

Who are the big 4 and the Big 3 in the consulting industry? ›

Who are the CEOs of the Top 3 (McKinsey, Bain, BCG), and Big 4 (EY, KPMG, PwC, Deloitte) consulting firms?

What does success look like in consulting? ›

However, no matter what type of consulting area a person would like to enter or what firm they would want to work for, there are several key characteristics that every successful consultant should possess: Having self-confidence, be a good listener, be a team player, easily cultivate and gain client trust, exhibit ...

How do you thrive in consulting? ›

To make this more tangible, let's break this down into adaptability with people and adaptability with situations.
  1. Adaptability with People.
  2. Adaptability with Situations.
  3. Being Proactive with Clients and Client Work.
  4. Being Proactive within Your Consultancy.
13 Feb 2019

Why is process consultation important? ›

First, it is necessary to identify the areas with the greatest deficiencies in the processes so the processes may be optimized and prioritized correctly. Process consulting then comes into play, combining problem-solving, technology and management approaches to create optimal strategies in corporate routines.

What is the purpose of process consultation? ›

Process consultation aims at improving the interpersonal and group procedures used by administrators, teachers, students, and parents to reach their educational objectives. It focuses primarily on the how of interpersonal and group interactions rather than on the what of their content.

Is the third phase of the consulting process? ›

Contracting is the third phase of the consulting process. The contract should be designed in a lucid legal cum business language. The problem statement, objectives and aims, list of important players, milestones and declaration of re-negotiation terms are the essential parts of such a contract.

How do you scope a consulting project? ›

How To Scope A Consulting Project In 4 Steps
  1. Approach the scoping call with curiosity. ...
  2. Follow up with an email that outlines what you heard they are looking for in a consultant. ...
  3. Determine their budget or budget range.
  4. Send a simple proposal that provides three pricing options.
10 Sept 2018

How do you conduct a consultation? ›

By following these steps!
  1. Identify priority issues and conduct a stakeholder analysis. ...
  2. Prepare a consultation plan. ...
  3. Ensure prior information dissemination. ...
  4. Incorporate feedback and share results. ...
  5. Maintain continuous stakeholder engagement and easy access to a grievance mechanism.
24 Nov 2020

What models do consultants use? ›

4 Consulting Models:
  • Market sizing.
  • Profitability.
  • Market study.
  • M&A.
16 Apr 2022

What is a hybrid consultant? ›

A hybrid working consultant helps organisations transition to a hybrid working model in safety and provides them with the means to maintain this model of working well into the future.

What is McKinsey business model? ›

The McKinsey 7S Model is an organizational tool that assesses the well-being and future success of a company. It looks to seven internal factors of an organization as a means of determining whether a company has the structural support to be successful.

What is one of the four roles of consulting? ›

Consultant Roles and Responsibilities

Collect and analyze data. Provide industry-specific coaching. Brainstorm strategies. Organize meetings.

What is consultation theory? ›

of consultation is commonly used when a potential consultee finds himself con- fronted with a problem for which he or she may not have the time, interest or competence to define objectively, to identify possible solutions, or to imple- ment and evaluate the problem-solving strategy.

How are consulting projects structured? ›

Usually they commence with a big kickoff, then there's behind-the-scenes work, perhaps a work session, culminating with a big meeting at the end in which the consultant delivers… drumroll… “the answer.”

How long should a consulting proposal be? ›

Success Tip: Try to Keep Your Proposal to 5 Pages or Less. Don't overwhelm the client with information. Focus on outlining the client's problems and your solutions.

Which is the third phase of the consulting process? ›

Phase Three: Providing Feedback

Using the information obtained from their data collection phase, consultants should present their findings to the client, give recommendations and provide the client with time to respond.

What is a consulting model? ›

The traditional consulting business model is based on two principle ideas: (1) hiring people (top talent if possible) and (2) charging clients a fee per hour or day for gaining access to this talent, its expertise and/or manpower.

What is a consulting mindset? ›

The Consultant Mindset is a way of working where the specialist will consult and advise his or her customer and thereby become a partner solving problems together with and for the customer in order to drive critical and needed business value for the customer's projects and business.

What is a consulting engagement? ›

In a consulting engagement, the consultant helps the client create the subject matter. Warning! Here comes the crude part! On a consulting engagement, the consultant is helping to make the baby (the subject matter), and on an audit, the auditor is being asked to say whether the baby is ugly.

What are the fundamentals of the consulting approach? ›

Identify mental models and bias and understand their impact on decision making. To understand the sources of creativity and strengthen your creative thinking. Learn about personal and organisational change and how to influence them. Recognise the factors to affecting successful change and overcoming resistance.

How do you structure a consulting engagement? ›

Engagement management has five major phases: proposal, kickoff, delivery, closure, and archive. The proposal has a project charter with three key components. A statement of work with background, scope, approach, and assumptions. The SOW specifies the deliverables that'll be provided to the client.

How many phases are in the consulting alliance model? ›

5 Phases of the Consulting Process | The Community Consulting Partnership.

What models do consultants use? ›

4 Consulting Models:
  • Market sizing.
  • Profitability.
  • Market study.
  • M&A.
16 Apr 2022

What is a hybrid consultant? ›

A hybrid working consultant helps organisations transition to a hybrid working model in safety and provides them with the means to maintain this model of working well into the future.

What is McKinsey business model? ›

The McKinsey 7S Model is an organizational tool that assesses the well-being and future success of a company. It looks to seven internal factors of an organization as a means of determining whether a company has the structural support to be successful.

What skills should a consultant have? ›

8 examples of key consulting skills
  • Creative thinking.
  • Thinking conceptually and practically.
  • Problem-solving.
  • Communicating clearly and empathetically.
  • Collaboration with all job levels.
  • Organization and time management.
  • Curiosity.
  • Credibility.

How can I improve my consulting skills? ›

The best way to improve your problem-solving skills as a consultant is by solving your client's problems through project work, reading and studying deeply to understand different situations, cause and effect, and gain new perspectives.

What are the characteristics of a consultant? ›

10 characteristics of a skilled consultant
  • YOU ARE A STRONG COMMUNICATOR. ...
  • YOU ARE A GOOD LISTENER. ...
  • YOUR FRIENDS COMPLIMENT YOU ON YOUR PEOPLE SKILLS. ...
  • YOU ARE NOT AFRAID TO WORK HARD. ...
  • YOU ARE CUSTOMER-FOCUSED. ...
  • YOU ARE CURIOUS AND LIKE TO LEARN NEW THINGS. ...
  • YOUR INTUITION IS SECOND TO NONE.

How do you manage consulting effectively? ›

Eight Steps to Consultancy Success
  1. Build a balanced relationship. ...
  2. Clarify the role. ...
  3. Define direction. ...
  4. Practice scope control. ...
  5. Get them up and running quickly. ...
  6. Cement trust with the team. ...
  7. Provide feedback. ...
  8. Be vigilant.

What does a consultant do day to day? ›

The daily work of a management consultant includes gathering data and insights (through research, surveys, interviews), running analyses, making PowerPoint presentations, and pitching solutions to the clients. The job involves a lot of travelling, and long hours are the norm.

Videos

1. Grit: the power of passion and perseverance | Angela Lee Duckworth
(TED)
2. How to Plan a CRM Project - CRM strategy planning advice from a UK consultancy partner
(Preact)
3. Best Consulting Business Model For New Consultants
(Jason Whaling)
4. The Hybrid Model: Best Consulting Business Model?
(Consulting Success)
5. The psychological trick behind getting people to say yes
(PBS NewsHour)
6. What role can a PMO play on different consulting projects?
(Startup Akademia)

Top Articles

You might also like

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Margart Wisoky

Last Updated: 09/22/2022

Views: 5955

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (78 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Margart Wisoky

Birthday: 1993-05-13

Address: 2113 Abernathy Knoll, New Tamerafurt, CT 66893-2169

Phone: +25815234346805

Job: Central Developer

Hobby: Machining, Pottery, Rafting, Cosplaying, Jogging, Taekwondo, Scouting

Introduction: My name is Margart Wisoky, I am a gorgeous, shiny, successful, beautiful, adventurous, excited, pleasant person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.