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Between 2005 and 2011, IMC published Daily Tips every weekday on consulting ethics, marketing, service delivery and practice management. You may search more than 800 tips on this website using keywords in "Search all posts" or clicking on a tag in the Top Tags list to return all tips with that specific tag. Comment on individual tips (members and registered guests) or use the Contact Us form above to contact Mark Haas CMC, FIMC, Daily Tips author/editor. Daily Tips are being compiled into several volumes and will be available through IMC USA and Mark Haas.

 

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Top tags: client relations  communication  customer understanding  your consulting practice  marketing  consultant role  learning  client service  reputation  goodwill  consulting process  market research  practice management  sales  ethics  planning  client development  engagement management  innovation  proposals  professional development  professionalism  knowledge assets  prospect  trends  presentations  recommendations  consulting colleagues  intellectual property  product development 

New Ways to Benefit From Tips for Consultants

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, March 6, 2009
In 2005, IMC USA started a new service to promote excellence and ethics in management consulting by publishing Daily Tips for Consultants. Every weekday morning, current subscribers receive an email with advice on marketing, service delivery, consulting ethics, client relations, teaming, practice management and many other tips, tricks and traps of the consulting profession.

We improved the format and focus over the years in response to subscriber comments. Now, after 1,000 tips and 5,000 subscribers in the consulting and management professions, we're making a few more to cut down on email:
  • You can now get email tips only once a week (click the "Update Profile/Email Address" link at the bottom of your tip and change your subscription from Daily Tip to Weekly Tip)
  • If you would like to subscribe to tips by RSS feed instead of by email, the tips will be delivered to your reader so you may read them at your leisure.
  • Starting next Monday, we will begin republishing many earlier tips. We get so many subscriber requests for prior tips that we will revise, refresh and update many of our older tips.
  • IMC members and registered website guests may subscribe to the Daily Tips for Consultants blog. The blog format provides the ability to search for tip content because tips are now tagged.
Thanks to our subscribers for your continued support and your many comments and requests for specific tips. Consider offering the benefit of these tips to your colleagues and clients. They would appreciate your thoughtfulness of sending then a tip that would improve their effectiveness or ethics.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

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#1000: A Consultant's Greatest Allies

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, March 5, 2009
Updated: Monday, March 9, 2009
How much time should I spend with client staff beyond the company leadership and department heads?

This depends on the nature of your engagement, but it is hard to imagine many engagements that would not significantly benefit from conversations with non-executives. For many consultants conducting an organizational diagnostic, the first people they talk to after the client sponsor is the head of HR and the receptionist. Especially if staff have been around a long time, they are likely to have a bead on the soul of an organization. Initial conversations with them are unlikely to be biased by executive directives if you can establish rapport early and build a relationship. In some cases, the long term employees have been through several leadership teams or executives and can provide context that your sponsor can't.

Tip: Don’t get caught in the trap of just interviewing senior staff. Make it clear to your sponsor that spending time with staff at all levels is critical to understanding organizational culture, seeing things about the organization possibly hidden to those in the executive suite, and building key allies for implementing any change initiatives. Work with your sponsor to develop a list of people to talk to but also develop your own list of influencers and enablers specifically among non-executive staff. Vigorously develop and maintain relationships with these staff and share any nonproprietary information about how the project is going and vet your findings and recommendations as appropriate. Your work product will be substantially more effective because of the diversity of input.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  communication  consulting process 

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#999: Bartering Your Consulting Services

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Do you know whether it is possible, or does it make sense, to barter my consulting services?

Bartering is a process where two people (sometimes companies) trade services instead of paying cash for a transaction. When you need a service but can't or prefer not to pay for it, and have a skill or other asset someone else wants, you may be able to barter. The goal is to trade something on which you place a relatively low value in exchange for receiving something of relatively high value to you. In a perfect world, both parties feel like they got a great deal (like in grade school when you traded away the sandwich you hated for your friend's one that you loved).

That said, management consulting, a traditionally B-to-B transaction, is a challenge to barter, for two reasons. First, finding someone with services you need and also willing to sell it in exchange for consulting services is really hard. At worst, it is hard to trade groceries for a strategic plan; at best, you might be able to barter management consulting services for accounting work. Second, it is hard to equate the value of the two providers. Is hour for hour the right balance, or should services be traded on the basis of hourly rates? What if the nature of your services requires a longer time than the service provider you want to barter with? When you want to barter a service for a product it gets more complicated.

Tip: One of the best bartering possibilities might be consulting for marketing. Consider whether providing consulting services to improve the effectiveness or operations of a marketing firm can be exchanged for advertising or a marketing plan. Consider what creative possibilities exist but just don't count on bartering being the foundation of your consulting business development strategy.

P.S. Recognize that even though no cash may change hands, the IRS considers it taxable and you are obligated to file a 1099-B, Proceeds from Broker and Barter Exchange Transactions.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

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#998: How Strong are Your Management Practices?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, March 2, 2009
As clients get more serious about hiring the best consultants, I am seeing a lot more emphasis placed on project and financial management instead of just the technical approach and technical qualifications. How should I play this?

You are not alone. It used to be that you could just explain your approach, that you were qualified and provide a list of references. Not any more. It seems in every recession, companies want to be sure you can manage your own affairs as well as theirs. They often want you to explain your staffing, quality, cost and schedule controls. They want to see something to assure them that you have business continuity and risk mitigation strategies in place, especially for larger and higher profile projects.

This is something you should be ready to provide to prospective clients. At a minimum, think about each of these practice and project management functions and how you do, could, or should manage them. Where will you go to acquire and train additional staff? How do you control costs? How are your project communication systems integrated into your project management systems? What mechanisms do you have to assure that your work activities are monitored for quality control and work products are quality assured? These do not have to be elaborate (for small projects or practices they won't be) but you need to have thought these through, if not implemented them.

Tip: Start with the basics: cost, quality, staffing, schedule and risk. What can you say about how you manage each of these in a typical project? What is the most likely, or most disruptive, thing that could happen to negatively affect your client? What systems do you have in place or procedures could you quickly implement to maintain the project to the standards to which you committed? Write these up and refine them over time.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  planning  project management  proposals 

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#997: Improve Your Speaking Ability

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, March 2, 2009
As a consultant, I have been giving speeches and briefings for more than 30 years and considered myself pretty good in front of a group. I recently joined Toastmasters after discounting it for years as unnecessary. It is one the best things I have ever done for my consulting career.

I am not sure what you are asking, but your point is a great one. As consultants, we are committed to being able to express ourselves well in writing and orally. However, talking your way through a briefing is not the same thing as communicating effectively. To do that, you may need command of skills that don't come naturally. Compare the impact of the oratorical skills of Barack Obama or Ronald Reagan to other US presidents in their ability to convey ideas and inspire confidence. Are you grabbing your audiences or just talking at them?

There are a range of learned behaviors of effective speakers. These include knowing when to talk and when to pause, how to make eye contact, speaking to individuals vs. the entire group, effective repetition, asking questions, segmenting and structuring, chunking your message, and knowing the difference between preparation and practicing. These skills are not just for platform speaking. Every encounter as a consultant demands that your message be clear, trusted, memorable, and convincing. Your delivery and style mean as much as the content of your message. If you don’t actively develop these skills, they are unlikely to come to you naturally.

Tip: There are a range of public speaking learning resources. You can read books and listen to webinars, but the best way to get better at speaking is to practice. Groups like Toastmasters are great ways to go from whatever experience level you are to being an effective and comfortable speaker. Spending time with your peers who are also trying to sort out where they are strong and where they can improve is essential to building your confidence and skills.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  communication 

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