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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 

#80: Management Consulting Certification as a Competitive Edge

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, June 26, 2009
After 40 years in consulting, I am seeing some significant changes in the way clients evaluate and select consultants. As large firms shed partners into boutique startups and demand for specialization increases, firm pedigree is losing power in exchange for individual certifications and registrations. Where is the CMC in all this?

For several decades the Certified Management Consultant (CMC®) designated the individual management consultant's skills, experience, client satisfaction, technical competence, consulting skills and behaviors and adherence to a high standard of professional conduct. While it was recognized to a varied degree in the market, it did represent the international standard for management consulting in over 40 countries with large consulting markets. With the increasing need for quality standards has come a closer look at both the technical qualifications of the individual consultant as well as the behaviors and skills in the process of consulting.

The impending specification for certification of management consultants in Europe is moving into its final phases, and ISO 17024 certification of consultants is close behind. Even large consulting firms are looking to find some competitive edge as they emerge from the recession in the US. Suddenly an internationally standard certification of consulting excellence and ethics that enjoys reciprocity in a global market has caught the interest of firms who want to stand out. The CMC is emerging as an increasingly important differentiator and the firm with the majority of its consultants certified is recognized as a collective mark of excellence and market value.

Tip: Consider the client looking to hire a consulting firm. Which would you find more attractive, the firm recommended by a colleague staffed by people you didn't know much about, or the firm who had publicly committed to international standards of excellence and ethics, most of whose consultants had met those certification standards tied to the management consulting competency framework? If the pace of new CMCs China plans to put into the marketplace is any indication, certification will be a key differentiator. Whether a large firm or small, the CMC® provides a competitive edge.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  brand  client relations  competition  customer understanding  ethics  marketing  professionalism  prospect  quality  reputation  trends 

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#79: Pro Bono Work

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, June 25, 2009
Updated: Friday, June 26, 2009
Every consulting marketing guide and author says pro bono work is a great way to build your network and your business. Every hour I spend doing "volunteer" work is one less billable hour. What am I missing?

In a word, lots. Your value as a consultant comes from a combination of skills, experience, and behaviors. Your success as a consulting firm comes from the combination of your network of contacts and an efficient business enterprise. Pro bono work, done well, is a home run in developing all of these bases of consulting success. If you see an hour of unbilled work as a cost rather than an investment, you will miss opportunities you may not be able to get even through billed work.

A pro bono engagement is a different type of service for a different type recipient in a different type of relationships than with paid clients. Your work is donated because you believe in the intrinsic value of an organization, whether it is for a social cause, your community or an affinity group. You and your "client" can get very close and the value of your skills is usually more appreciated than in a work for hire relationships. Pro bono work rounds out your skills, extends your relationships, brings you int a new area where your skills are used, and does fulfill a need for you to lend your skills to build your community.

Tip: Don't wait to be asked to help in your community. There are plenty of hours that you do not bill in which you could donate a few hours a week or month. Pick 2-3 charitable organizations of interest. Contact the chief executive and say you have skills in marketing, planning, leadership development, fundraising, staffing, or whatever you want to contribute. Ask how you might contribute these skills (or, if you are willing to stuff envelopes, you can do so) for the betterment of the organization. When you propose specific, high value skills like these, you will get a grateful reception and enter a whole new world of possibilities.

P.S. IMC chapters often sponsor community service projects, in which a team of members work with a nonprofit board or executive team to build capacity or on a specific project. Contact your chapter president to suggest a project or join a team (another place you can build your consulting network).

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  community service  customer understanding  goodwill  marketing  professionalism  publicity 

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#78: Project Kickoff Meetings

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Updated: Friday, June 26, 2009
What are the things to watch out for in project kickoff meetings?

Project kickoff meetings are usually called by the client to make sure that the scope, sequence and content of the project is clear to all. We meet the principals, take a tour of the facilities, discuss past efforts to solve the problem at hand, and pore over the proposed project plan. What no one likes to talk about however, is that this is all about risk management, for both the client and the consultants.

The client wants to be sure that the consultant is up to the job and the project scope is not too narrow to accommodate what comes up when exploration reveals new issues. The consultant wants to limit the scope to the proposed work on which he or she bid and make sure that the client is reasonable about accommodating scope changes. Both want to leave the kickoff meeting knowing what they are getting in to, despite both being focused on improving the client's position.

Tip: As important as discussing what each party intends to do in the project, the kickoff meeting should spend a significant amount of time discussing the limits to the project. Talk about roles and authorities - what the consultant should not be doing and what the client is not obligated to do. List (yes on paper) those activities that are inside the line and which are outside. Be flexible on this but it should be on paper so all can see it and agree to it. We have all been in situations where we want to accommodate the client and have had to come back and negotiate what is in and what is really beyond the scope of work. Be willing to negotiate but be sure the kickoff meeting leaves no ambiguity over roles and responsibilities.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  consultant role  customer understanding  engagement management  meetings  roles and responsibilities 

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#77: Toolkits for Consultants

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Updated: Tuesday, June 23, 2009
I hear all the time about the XYZ Power Matrix, or the ABC Market Chart, but I can't seem to find many of these in the literature. Two questions: (1) are all these "processes" legitimate, and (2) are they written up somewhere?

As if managers have not created enough of these tools, processes, tips, protocols and approaches over the years, consultants are not afraid to do the same. There is a steady stream of "new" concepts, but most are variations of ones that have been used for years. For example, most consultants have heard of the Balanced Scorecard, but don't realize that this concept is over 75 years old and has been "rediscovered" repeatedly in several disciplines, including other than management. The same is true for minimax decision making or the profitability matrix. If you believe there is nothing new under the sun, then you probably shouldn't worry too much about not being able to track down every named concept you run across.

Tip: There are a few encyclopedias of management that list these processes. Browse through business school or online booksellers for a range of management dictionaries and encyclopedias. One I like (and is available for $0.01 used from Amazon) is The Vest Pocket CEO: Decision Making Tools for Executives. It lists more than one hundred of the kind of decision making processes that you talk about, most in a one or two page format.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consulting process  intellectual property  knowledge assets  learning  planning  process  professional development 

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#76: Getting a Snapshot of Your Client's Brand

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, June 22, 2009
Our clients often ask us to get a market snapshot of their perceived brand before starting process or strategy work. Limited time and budgets make a traditional survey approach impossible. How do we get a "quick and dirty" but still valid brand snapshot?

You certainly have a challenge. In most cases, "quick and dirty" and "valid and complete" are incompatible. The reputation of an institution or the expectations of a diverse marketplace and stakeholders are not easily characterized even over longer times. However, we have a suggestion of how to complete your task.

Surveys are generally a good way to get stakeholders opinions about the brand "promise" they expect from a company. However, a lot of people are "surveyed out" and interpretation of these data may be complex. Since you seem to not have the budget for a market research firm or a lengthy survey process, look at the value of a simple survey, where simple equals one question. Define a few key markets and ask them to give you a single word that defines their experience with your client. This is a quick process, minimally intrusive on respondent's time, easy to tabulate and interpret and relatively unambiguous for your client, and easy to replicate on a regular basis.

Tip: Field a simple web survey (paper if needed but electronic is faster, cheaper, and more efficient) that gives the company logo (best because it does not bias the verbal response) or the client company name with a very brief description of its market (e.g., Wilsons Inc., a Brownsville-based tool and die manufacturer). Tabulate words used to describe the market impression of the company brand and display in a tabular or cloud format. See an example of how this works in Brand Tags. For a given logo (many popular brands are represented here), you can see how people described it. Alternatively, you can look at the keywords used to describe a company and see if you can figure out what the company is. Your own One-word impression survey will deliver a fairly clear sense of what your client's brand is and in what areas you might need to work on it.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  assessment  brand  marketing  survey 

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