Managing Consulting Projects

Jul. 14, 2020 by

Welcome to the last lesson in the Consulting Crash Course

In this lesson, we're going to cover:

  • what to do when starting a new project
  • what to do during the project
  • what to do when completing a project

Starting the Project

We've already covered alot around finding clients, negotiating price, and signing contracts in previous lessons.

As a review, here are the simple steps to start a new project:

  • Find the client and convince them to work with you.
  • Negotiate price and sign a contract and/or SOW. 
  • Fill out a W-9 tax form and give it to the client. This is the tax form for independent contractors. 
  • Start work and track your time.

When you start the project make sure that you save everything. This means the contracts, SOW's, any tax forms, etc. I recommend using Google Drive or something to organize all the documents for the client. If it's on something like Google Drive then you always have access to you documents on any device.

During the Project

Once the project has started, it's important to get to work and focus on your soft skills. 

If you've been hired, the client already assumes you can do the work from a technical standpoint. The soft skills are what determines if they enjoy working with you. Here are a few things to keep in mind during the project.

Under promise and over deliver

Generally you want to under promise and over deliver. It doesn't look good when you promise the client all these bells and whistles and you can't deliver them. So it's better to start small and then "wow" them with your work.

Great Communication

Nothing beats good communication. It's really frustrating to get an email from someone and you literally can't figure out what they're asking. Do your best to write clearly and concisely. Nobody will stop a contract due to bad spelling and grammar, but consistent errors look bad. You can use a spell checker like Grammarly to avoid errors.

Everyone's writting style is different, so adjust accordingly. If you consistently get emails that are short and to the point from the client. Your emails should also be short and to the point. If they write lengthy detailed emails, consider adding more detail to your emails. You want to match their writing style while still keeping your unique writing style. 

Good communication goes a long way, so take it seriously.

Cross the Finish Line

Make sure you actually do what you said you'd do. Keep your focus on what is agreed to in the contract. 

Work Well with Others / Be Flexible

As a consultant, companies aren't required to keep you on and don't have laws against hiring and firing you. You want to be easy to work with and stay flexible to changing requirements. That doesn't mean you should just let people walk all over you. But it does mean you should be open to other people's opinions.

Keep the Client Happy

This is one of the most important rules. Usually if the client's happy, then you're happy and it makes the whole project a lot easier. That doesn't mean you should bend over backwards for everything the client wants. However you want to do your best to go above and beyond to make sure that they're happy with your work.

Have a Reasonable Work Schedule

I'd say plan to work 20 to 40 hours a week. Even though the client doesn't have full control of your time, I'd try to make yourself generally available during the work day (9am-5pm). You're going to have some non-billable hours, so you want don't want to work more than 40 billable hours a week. Plus, the whole reason you're doing this is to get control over your time and make enough money to provide for you and your family.

Completing the Project

When the project is wrapping up, there are a few things you want to be aware of.

You want to start looking for work 2 to 4 weeks before your contract is ending. Also, you'll want to have some savings for any gaps between projects. 

You always want to try to leave on good terms and make sure that the client is happy with the work that you did.

If the engagement went well, get a LinkedIn recommendation when you're done. This will help give you something to point to on your portfolio site and give new clients some reassurance that you're easy to work with.

That's it!

It's time for you to put this into practice. 

Remember that success takes time & practice. Set goals and keep your head up.

If you found this useful, please share it and try HoursLogger if you need time tracking and invoicing for your business. 

Spend time consulting, not tracking time.


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