What are the project objectives? Qualify and quantify them. Write them down.
Why is the client spending money on this project? Write down the background. Don’t think about the solution at this stage just focus on the objectives and the circumstances.
Writing down this information will help you understand the clients’ situation and identify information you may be missing fully grasping what the client would like to achieve.
How will the client measure if the project is successful? Are there certain milestones, which can be meaningfully defined? Are there quantifiable outcomes of the project? Can the project be broken down into smaller projects?
What do you need from the client to be successful? Can the client jeopardize the project? How?
Outside your control
But before you call the client again you need to reconsider all those project elements, which are not related to you.
If you have been an independent management consultant for some time you will already have experienced how clients can make it impossible or at least very difficult for you doing your job. Just a few examples:
The CEO for whom you are working gets fired or resigns
Certain client representatives are working against you (the CEO forgot to inform or motivate the project to his associates)
The client is acquired by another company
The information provided by the client prior to engaging was not exactly correct, only partial or very subjective.
Certain client representatives do not deliver information on time
The project gets postponed due to other urgent issues
The project objectives changes
The need for the project vanish
The client can’t pay
Is there anything you can do to mitigate the risk factors?
Can you package some of or the entire project into a “fixed price/fixed delivery” format, or do you have to go for time & material? Can you estimate the effort required?
Reconfirming the objectives and the conditions with the client
You should now be well positioned to call the client again and have the project objectives reconfirmed. You can also test some of your concerns and make sure that both of you have the same understanding of the “project environment”.
Providing the project objectives, milestones, deliverables and a description of the environment in writing BEFORE quoting any prices is highly recommendable.
I meet and talk with a lot of independent management consultants. 99% of them are extremely busy. They are so busy that they have little time to learn new approaches, keep up with the development in their area(s) and develop their business. Most of them even complain that they are too busy. They also use their busyness as an “excuse” for not being responsive and not meeting deadlines.
When I ask why they are so busy the unison answer is: “client projects”. My response is: “Fantastic, you must be making tons of money?” Answer: “Silence.”
The silence continues when I ask them: “When will you increase your prices and with how much?”
This series of posts will address the “many hours/low price” issue, explain the causes and provide recommendations for how you can remedy the situation. Applying the ideas should enable you to work less hours, make more money and have more fun at the same time.