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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 

#28: Keeping Time Records

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, April 14, 2009
My client just wants me to track my hours on a weekly basis and submit totals with my monthly invoice. How good should my records be to track time for a client?

Tracking your work is for your benefit as well as for your client. Just because your client only wants a number of hours does not mean you should settle for this level of detail. More important than the hours you are tracking is what you did during that time. Many consultants will write on their time record nothing more than the hours worked and a cursory "interviews." This is insufficient to help you recall what you did, why or where the products of that work are now. Also, it won't help you evaluate whether your time was estimated correctly or whether you are working on the right tasks. You and your client are best served by a full accounting of work and the context for that work.

Tip: Create a tracking sheet for your own use that records five items: (1) time, (2) where you did the work (your office, client site, or other location), (3) what you did (description of the nature of the activity), (4) what value this provided in terms of the project deliverables (tie to milestones, project task, or deliverable), and (5) reference to work product produced (briefing, analysis, interviews, slide deck). You can share these with your client of not (they are sure to be impressed with your professionalism) but these make a good record for your own. Also, use them to better understand how accurate your estimated times foo future tasks.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  engagement management  performance improvement  planning  practice management  project management  recordkeeping 

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#11: Consulting Terminology: Work Streams

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, March 23, 2009
I recently heard a term with which I am unfamiliar. What are work streams in an engagement?

In planning a consulting engagement or project, work streams are logical collections of activities aimed at a discrete outcome. Generally, a work stream is designed to assemble resources (usually people and information) in a sequence of related activities that result in a project deliverable or milestone. Work streams may even constitute subprojects of the overall engagement. Examples would be organizational diagnosis, communication plan development, execution of a training program, or a market test. Taken at a high level, work stream outputs will tell the project management story of an engagement.

Tip: As part of your engagement project plan, consider using work streams for two reasons. First, it will improve your ability to logically allocate the right people and information at the right times. Second, it will allow you to more easily communicate the plan, progress and outcomes to your client.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consulting terminology  project management 

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#3: Completed Staff Work (for Consultants)

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, March 11, 2009
With new clients, it is sometimes hard to know how specific to make recommendations without seeming too presumptuous. I want to add value but not overreach. What's the balance?

Considering that your client engaged you to provide recommendations, it is hard to imagine that they are reluctant for you to hold back. Given that your ethics would preclude recommending anything for which you do not have a solid basis, you should feel free to develop as robust a set of recommendations as you have time for.

Napoleon Bonaparte was known for some innovative and prodigious management skills. One of Napoleon's requirements for his advisors was what is called "completed staff work." He did not want his staff to come to him and say, "Napoleon, the men are hungry, we are low on supplies and the enemy is approaching. What do you want me to do?" He demanded, instead, that his staff do their job and come to him, saying "Napoleon, the men are hungry, we are low on supplies and the enemy is approaching. We have three options. My recommendations is . . .".

Tip: Speaking of Napoleon, you might be interested in a good book about Napoleon's management style that is particularly relevant for management. Napoleon on Project Management: Timeless Lessons in Planning, Execution, and Leadership will resonate with you on areas of project management and leadership that can lead to success as well as a description of characteristics that led to some historical failures (we probably learn more from our bad days than from our good ones).

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  client service  consultant role  project management  recommendations 

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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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