Kick It Off
An important piece of consulting success is setting expectations. These should be addressed at the very beginning of the project. Ideally, you set expectations with the proposal, and all you need to do now is reiterate what everyone already knows. Every project should have some sort of kickoff. This is when you have enough information and tools to start work as well as when you start putting in billable hours.
Communicate Early and Often
Communication is the number one factor I can point to in consulting success. When I failed to over-communicate to customers, there were struggles. On the other hand, when I provided clear and regular communication about status and asked questions, the project went as well as could be expected. A relationship of some sort and trust won the project. Build on those first steps during the plan to keep it on track and improve the chances for total success.
Follow Best Practices
You are getting paid for the work you are doing. That makes you a professional. Act like one. Be aware of best practices in the customer’s industry as well as those in IT. Then make sure you adopt those practices in your work. Yes, it will take a little more time to get your tasks complete. On the other hand, they are more likely to be done right the first time. Therefore, your customer will be saved time, money, and stress when you add that professional polish.
Templates and Standards
As you progress through your projects, there should be a standard way that you communicate and complete tasks. You can make it easy on yourself by using templates for communication and following some standards or best practices. This approach will help provide a “voice” to the customer that is consistent and provides a level of comfort to them that everything is under control.
In general, treat your customers as you would like to be treated. Remember that the hard earned money you are being paid is coming out of their hard earned money. When you focus on the service part of a business like consulting, you will find success in even the most challenging projects.