COE uses the term "partnership" when talking about our
working relationships, because the most successful engagements are true
collaborations, complete with mutual trust and respect.
In order to maintain effective partnerships, we emphasize
open and frank communication, clear roles and responsibilities, and measurable
outcomes. While every project is unique, there are some elements that
successful projects have in common.
- Make sure the business case for this project is
clear, front and center, never forgotten, and referred to often
throughout the engagement.
- The firm will need access to data, people, and
information in and about your organization. Help them obtain the
information and access to people as requested and scheduled. Plan for
and communicate throughout your organization ahead of time so the firm
has the access they need.
- Assign and make sure roles and responsibilities are clear and accepted by all involved.
- Anticipate potential task and schedule
roadblocks such as vacations, priority shifts, etc., communicate them
to the firm, and work together to address them.
- Use the firm to make or assist in presentations with the leadership and stakeholders.
- Support the needs of the firm to others in the organization, paving the path to their success.
- Make sure all stakeholders in your organization
are informed and supportive of the engagement. Be the champion,
communicate often, involve them in the process and results.
- Use the firm to help you "manage up" when necessary. They often can help you with strategy, messaging, etc.
- Always have the work and cell phone number of the firm's engagement manager, and be willing to share yours as well.
- Review the engagement plan often. Don't be afraid to revise it as required, and review it often.
- Review deliverables against the stated outcomes and provide feedback as scheduled. If circumstances have changed which
impact the deliverables, make sure the firm is aware of them as soon
- Write down and email all agreements, action items, and accountabilities. Communicate often.
- Don't be afraid to repeat yourself to ensure
there is clear agreement about where, when, how, what, etc. Continuous
dialogue is one of your best tools.
- Be responsive to requests for information,
email communications, etc. Wasted time can increase both the budget,
and delay the schedule.
- Keep the firm informed of changing events,
requirements, critical meetings, or related engagements within the
organization. The firm is often disadvantaged in its work if it is
unaware of influencing circumstances, politics, or new decisions. Be
open about motivations, and predetermined outcomes.
- Recognize what work is in or out of the scope
of the contract. Consulting firms are always happy to support you, but
like you they have to manage within a schedule and budget as well.
- Be ready to dedicate time and have a clear point of contact for the engagement.
- Use the firm to help you with impromptu issues
and problems that are related or unrelated to the engagement. This
helps you by having experts on hand and helps give them continued
insight into the organization.
- Be ready to make decisions in a timely manner. Line up any required approvals as soon as possible.
- Share with the firm your thoughts, needs and
limitations. For example if your budget is very limited, they will
appreciate that and try to support you within your means.
- Be open and transparent with the firm, it's the best way for them to help you.
- Be willing to hear bad news.
- Allow the firm to question your assumptions,
decisions, and thoughts for the best result. Conversely, don't be
afraid to question theirs.
- Be open and honest with feedback on performance. Don't wait until it is too late.
- Be absolutely sure your requirements and
expectations are clear and well defined, or if generated by the firm,
that you have reviewed, understood, and agreed to them. Always make
sure you know what you are agreeing to.
- Keep your expectations realistic.
- Decide on appropriate intervals and hold
progress meetings. Based on the nature, risk, and schedule of the
engagement, progress reports may need to be weekly, monthly, biweekly,
- Ask questions often when you need
information. Understand that you hired the firm because they are
experts in the given area. Allow them to apply their expertise and
- Risks and unanticipated issues are a natural
part of most engagements. Work with the firm to identify them and
mitigate them accordingly. Risk management is a natural and critical
engagement management activity.
- Act immediately on recommendations — it's the best way to keep the traction going.