Last day

November 30, 2006

I’m no mathematician (or statistician), but I’m pretty sure that more than 50% of the written part of the reply to a RFP is made on the last possible day, on more than 95% of the cases (well… at least in Portugal).

But fortunately I’d also bet that on at least 98% of the cases the final job is pretty good. 🙂

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Real-World planning

November 30, 2006

Every project starts with some kind of planning. It can be very simple or it can become complex as hell.

But there will be a plan – no plan, no project.

There’s no reputable consulting firm that won’t present you with a macro plan before you buy a project, and it’s great they do it.

Now… keep this in mind:

Perfect approach: Know the client, know the situation, create a plan, execute it.

Real-world approach: Know a little about the client, know even less about the situation, create a crappy plan, execute it, update to a less crappier plan, execute it, and so on. This is how it works!


Consultants’ role

November 26, 2006

Don’t really know why, but when I changed my blog design I lost some of the info on this post. If you’re interested in any of this leave a comment and I’ll get back to you asap.

I’m a consultant. What do consultants do? They consult.

As a matter of fact, it’s quite difficult to explain what consultants do. We are able to help people (companies) solve their problems, using our specific expertise and knowledge. But does that mean that companies couldn’t do it without us? On most cases, it doesn’t – you could do it on your own.
Let’s suppose you run a successful business. Sales and profits are up, employee morale and productivity is great and you know that your workers are as occupied as they can be. Suddenly, as if coming from nowhere, something happens or is about to happen! What do you do?

  1. You create a task force within your company
  2. You hire a consulting team

What are the main advantages/disadvantages of each choice?

Internal team
Advantages Disadvantages
Consulting team
Advantages Disadvantages
  • Has extensive industry knowledge
  • Will use tried and tested methods that have already worked somewhere else (most of the cases…)
  • Are used to the issues relating projects, such as meeting deadlines, change management, and so on
  • It will cost money (a lot and it is real money, not opportunity cost)
  • Might not know your company well enough and they will surely steal some of your employees time
  • They’ll definitely try to upsell something else
  • Your employees might not like them and make their life (and the project’s goal) a lot harder

Summarizing

As you may have already discovered, if you choose an internal team for the project, be sure that they can handle it. To be honest, unless the problem is simple and similar to others already faced (or if you have a real internal consulting team, solely dedicated to projects) you’re almost doomed to failure. You’ll fail because the deadlines will not be met, common project errors will be made and you’ll realize, sooner or later, that people require other kind of expertise and knowledge, different from what they’re used to.

You’ll end up wasting your employees’ time (their productivity, your income), lowering morale and… well… calling up the consulting firm.

On the other hand, understand that not all consulting firms are created equal and that their main goal is exactly the same as yours – making money – and that sometimes that goal will conflict with your best interest.

This was just a brief view about the importance and need of consulting firms. Sometimes they’re really useful. Sometimes they’ll make you save or earn a lot or money. But sometimes things don’t go well.

In another post I will talk about on how to choose a good consulting firm and to be sure that you are buying a project that’ll work out for you.