One of the areas we discuss a lot in the easyconsult coaching program is the importance of a good proposal. It is not only important in helping your win work with clients but it is critical in setting up any project you need to deliver for success.
To recap previous discussions I have had on other blogs around this topic, some of the important aspects that need to be included in proposals to ensure projects are delivered well include the following:
- a scope that is very clear in terms of what is included and what is not;
- a programme that outlines when the work will be undertaken and by who;
- qualifiers and assumptions that cover scope, variations, consolidated feedback from the client, disbursements and other expenses;
- deliverables are clear in terms of what is the outcome or outputs from the review, engagement or advice that we are providing;
- clear payment terms that minimise milestone payments and promote upfront payment to minimise cash flow challenges;
- key contact for both your consulting practice and the client are established to ensure role clarity is clear; and
- a bottom up costing for lump sum engagements that not only provides certainty on the price but is crystal clear on what the clients are getting from the engagement.
When a proposal has these elements, it is a pleasure to manage the delivery of a project. The job is set up for success, expectations are clear and value is able to be provided to the client. It takes a little more work up front but provides a clear payoff in a short space of time.
Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. I have had the unfortunate pleasure of trying to deliver projects that have had very vague proposals, scopes, deliverables and a lack of expectations on what is required. The impact of this on project delivery can be summarised as follows:
- project scope if not clear leading to the Rolls Royce being delivered when the client wanted the commodore;
- excessive rework due to lack of scope clarity, lack of clear deliverables and a lack of role clarity;
- unclear focus on what is actually being delivered;
- not being paid on time putting severe challenges on your business;
- budget and program both being exceeded due to variations not being managed because the scope was not clear or the variation process being vague; and
- the client being frustrated because what was promised was not delivered.
There is a lot to be said for setting yourself up for success by planning well. Our planning in consulting is around good proposal development combined with good communication with the client through a project. You will also increase your opportunities for repeat work and referrals as the clients most important criteria for recommending your work is how well you delivered against their expectations which are set right at the proposal stage.
Take the time to document a good proposal even if you feel you may find it excessive at the time because it will pay you back handsomely through the project delivery phase. It will also taste nicer as an experience!