Archive for: May, 2023

What Are the Roles of Technical and Functional Consultant in ERP Software Implementation?

May 31 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

The use of ERP software has nowadays become a necessity in order to be able to face the competitively on the market. This being the case, many companies purchase such software and then implement it. When it comes to implementation, there are a few things that anyone should be aware of. First of all, both technical and functional consultants are needed because the first ones are IT professionals and customize the product as you desire and the other ones are specifying the needs that the software needs to meet, considering the current and future situation in the company.

Technical and functional consultant requirements for ERP implementation include the fact that both consultants need to have a clear image of the purpose of implementing ERP software and on the results that need to be achieved. Implementation begins with the work of the functional consultants. They make a complete analysis of the current methods of handling business processes in the company. It is in their responsibility to provide accurate information to the technical team in order for them to come with effective solutions. Technical and functional consultant requirements for ERP implementation meet in the second phase of the implementation process when all consultants have to gather together in order to come up with the best method of solving current problems and of integrating current processes and databases into the new system. The rest of the work is for technical consultants because they need to test the software and then to hold the necessary trainings in order to make it known to all employees.

Both consultants need to collaborate well in order for best results. This is why technical and functional requirements include the fact they need good communication skills. They need to develop the best practices that will lead to an improvement in the activity of the company. Unless they share the same information and the same vision, this is not possible.

Functional consultants are the ones that have to create appropriate work flows, test scripts, to make a comprehensive analysis of the results and to develop a user manual. The technical consultants rely a lot on the information the functional consultants provide to them. After the functional consultants and the client reach the best solution, the technical consultants are responsible with making it happen. Technical and functional consultant requirements for ERP implementation include the fact that both consultants have experience and knowledge in various fields. Otherwise, they will end up incapable of understanding the clients requirements or incapable of putting them in practice.

Comments are off for this post

Consultation Guidelines For Hypnotherapy

May 31 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

The initial consultation may well be the most crucial aspect of hypno-psychotherapy, if not all therapies. Everything from the interpersonal dynamic to the eventual success of the intervention has a basis in this first meeting between the client and the therapist. Indeed, the client’s decision to remain engaged with the therapeutic process will be determined by factors from this early stage. Despite this, it is not possible, or even desirable, to proscribe the process. As a dynamic, evolving interaction, dependent on the individuals involved and the course the therapy is to take, until the consultation begins to take shape it is unhelpful to try to impose too much structure upon it. This view is expressed by the NCHP, as evidenced by the following;

It is, therefore, not possible, or even desirable, to suggest a blueprint which all should follow. (NCHPa)

With this in mind the following discussion will be concerned with one individual’s approach and focus primarily on those features that this author believes are most decisive in fulfilling the aims of a consultation. If it is not wise or helpful to be prescriptive then we can perhaps understand Feltham’s (1997) comment,

“the best we can aim for is practitioners who are honest, conscientious, flexible and experienced enough to offer each client suitably individualised counselling.”

The goal of the consultation is to provide direction for informing therapeutic intervention. At the most basic level there are certain physical factors that are likely to play a role in a successful consultation. For example, a room that is suitably furnished and offers quiet, comfort and provides confidentiality. The exact details will be dependent on the therapist’s style, budget etc and the desires of the client (e.g., temperature, lighting, distance between client and therapist etc).

However, obvious considerations are furniture that is adaptable to a range of positions and for a range of people, which offers a clear view of the client, a room that is welcoming and so forth. Ideally the consultation and treatment would be conducted in two different rooms so that the client associates one location specifically with the hypnotic process.

The next level for consideration is the initial contact between the therapist and client. Here the knowledge and use of basic counselling and communication skills are paramount. The client must feel that s/he is dealing with a professional who is genuinely interested in and accepting of their situation. Thus, greetings (including checking the client’s name and any other identificatory information the therapist already has), timeliness and other aspects, which signal respect and focus, must be incorporated into the first moments when the clients make their initial appraisal.

Throughout the process it is important to maintain these high standards, not only because it facilitates open and honest exchanges with the client, but also good communication skills help to engender rapport. Communication skills are for the most part considered to be natural, however recent work within medicine and dentistry has begun to highlight the importance of developing an awareness of what makes communication work (see Lloyd, 1996; Fielding, 1995). The skills that are considered important for clinicians to develop and be flexible with for fruitful consultations are;

i) Clarity of language

ii) Audibility & enunciation

iii) Eye contact

iv) Non-verbal behaviour

v) Empathy

vi) Methods of questioning

vii) Sensitivity of questions

viii) Greeting and identity check

ix) Introduction of self and role

x) Respect of patient’s views

xi) Clarification and summarising

xii) Checking understanding and closing

During the hypno-therapeutic consultation the therapist would do well to have had practice in these skills and not rely on their belief that as they are a caring individual, that will naturally make them a good communicator. The NCHP suggest that it is necessary to ‘like’ the client (NCHPb). There are certain issues with this, for example, a therapist might be more likely to be seen to be collaborating with a client’s unhelpful thoughts or behaviours, or there may be complex issues surrounding transference during therapy. Equally it might make certain aspects of therapy more difficult to undergo if one’s relationship with a client is based on liking them, rather than respect for them.

It is certainly true that one can like a person without endorsing their beliefs and behaviour however it does make the therapeutic relationship potentially more complicated than necessary. Traux and Carkhuff (1967) suggest that rather than liking the client it is important to communicate empathic understanding, unconditional positive regard and to be ‘with’ the client.

Although the two previously described issues are important, they are basic to most successful human interaction, i.e., a suitable location and interpersonal skills. Without an awareness of these factors it is unlikely that a therapist will progress with a client to the consultation proper. It is the next step where the therapist’s particular skills come to the fore.

The consultation process is concerned with two primary aims; knowing the person and informing the person. The latter is somewhat less involved and aims to ensure that the client has a clear understanding of the therapist, the nature of hypnosis, and the guidelines within which both are framed. Clients need to know that they are dealing with a trained individual, and how that person will work with them.

This means that they should know the therapist’s qualifications (and perhaps even a method of checking them, such as a telephone number or web address) and their particular philosophy or approach to therapy. Some clients may have experience of preferred or disliked therapies. The client also needs to be clear about the nature of hypnosis, what it is and what it is not, issues regarding loss of control, revealing secrets, not coming out of a trance etc. It might be useful to send such information to clients when they make their consultation appointment and then review it during the first face-to-face meeting.

Such an approach also allows for more detail to be provided than might be suitable during the first consultation, for example some history of hypnotism, information regarding the therapist’s background and training etc). Clients should be made aware of issues surrounding confidentiality, what the limits are, and how they will be protected. The order of presentation of this material is important as people tend to remember the things they have been presented with at the beginning and ends of a session, so the description of hypnosis might best be presented last so that the prospective client has good recall of the details of hypnosis whilst considering whether to come back. It is important to ensure that the client does fully understand this information and again good communication skills will facilitate the process of checking whether this is the case.

Regarding confidentiality, it is my opinion that no sources of information should be contacted (e.g., GPs) without the client’s written consent, and no information passed on to others unless (a) the client gives written consent, (b) a court requires it, or (c) information divulged by the client suggests that s/he is planning to harm her/his self or another. At times this might mean that some clients will have to be referred on, or not accepted for treatment if they deny access to information that the therapist believes is necessary, or they cannot accept the guidelines for releasing information.

Assuming that the therapist is now in the company of a seated, comfortable, informed and engaged client it will be possible to begin to get to know the client. It is important that the therapist remembers that there is both a ‘client’ and a ‘concern’, and that the two cannot be separated, nor should they be confused. My preferred approach to this stage of a consultation could be termed “unstructured structure”. In essence this means that there are certain key elements that must be covered in the consultation, but the exact order and manner in which this will be achieved is determined by the flow of the consultation. It also means that the specifics of the questions are for the purposes of this paper, by definition, vague because they must tie in stylistically and temporally with the client.

Most important is the client’s reason for coming for therapy – and it must involve some description of

i) The concern

ii) The motivation for change

iii) Why now

The way in which the client describes these three factors provides much detail. For example, the description of a presenting concern, and the language used to describe it, gives an indication of how the person understands and relates to the issue. Epicetus, the stoic philosopher, stated that people are disturbed not by things but by the views they take of them and this view is embodied in cognitive approaches (e.g., Beck, 1964).

Although one might not wish to use cognitive therapies, or one may not be trained in them, all therapeutic philosophies share this central concept that at some level, whether conscious or unconscious, it is how we respond to our world that determines our control of ourselves within it. The concepts and terms the client uses may point toward a familiarity with certain therapies, including hypnosis, and these may suggest routes for the therapist so that s/he can use the client’s familiarity with these concepts in therapy. That is, the therapist can use the client’s already existing ‘working model’.

The use of language is central to hypnotherapy because we must find methods that can be easily assimilated by clients, which they can understand and respond to. Communicating at the same ‘level’ as the client naturally works in will greatly assist this. Responses to motivation for change and ‘why now’ provide not only extra language information but also insight into how much responsibility the client is taking for change. A person who wants to cease smoking for their own health will be a qualitatively different experience to a client whose partner is badgering them to give up.

Language use and level of responsibility are important because they interact with my philosophical orientation, which is broadly Gestalt. It does not rule out or demand any particular tool, method or philosophical orientation, as these must be determined by the needs and experiences of the client. It does see the therapeutic process as collaborative so that the client appreciates the importance of their active involvement. By being collaborative, therapy will be a transparent, shared process, with a shared agenda and analysis of progress through feedback which the client gradually takes more and more responsibility for through learning self-hypnosis and the use of tapes (where appropriate), and by taking on certain homework tasks e.g., keeping a diary, experimenting with ideas etc.

Having covered these three primary areas it is important to develop a deeper understanding of the client and their concern. This is part of what Palmer and McMahon (1997) have outlined as being the common elements in all assessments.

i) what is the problem

ii) is therapy suitable

iii) is the client suitable (are there contraindications)

iv) what underlies the problem

v) transcultural and gender issues (e.g., differences in verbal and non-verbal behaviour and the recognition that one’s own social/cultural biases (e.g., Ridley, 1995) may influence therapeutic decisions etc.).

In essence we are assessing the fit between a therapeutic framework and a client or presenting problem (e.g., Ruddell & Curwen, 1997). These questions cannot be addressed until the therapist understands the client, unless the presenting problem is one that the therapist does not feel competent or inclined to address.

Often people are not fully aware of the range of factors which can influence their desire to change and those which can be obstacles to change. These factors can be internal or external. It is also useful to contextualise the client, so that the therapist can begin to understand what boundaries there may be in the person’s life that could assist or detract from therapy.

For example, it is important to be sensitive to any disclosures the client might make regarding previous experiences with therapy, early problems that may or may not be what the client sees as a central part of their current concern (e.g., being a victim of physical or sexual abuse, time with mental health issues etc.). Further this extends the exploration of how the person thinks of themselves and their world. Partly it is important to uncover aspects of the client’s personality as there is evidence that compatibility on a variety of personality characteristics is important for the therapeutic relation (e.g., Parloff et al., 1978).

Areas that should be covered here are family and work life, any past, present or continuing problems or difficulties (other than the presenting problem), contacts with other forms of services, and evidence of successes. The issue of contact with previous services contains medical and mental health information so that the therapist is aware of either contraindications for hypnotherapy (e.g., psychotic episodes) or issues that might make certain inductions inadvisable (e.g., asthma). It also includes hypnosis, in case the client has previous experience of hypnosis, whether successful or not. The therapist may be able to discover induction methods that the client is comfortable with, or prefers to avoid, their visualisation capability, IMR etc. If the client has no previous experience then the therapist knows to include specific questions (e.g., favourite ‘safe place’ etc) and even visualisation exercises.

The final area, successes, is important because the therapist may need access to positive material if the client has issues with self-esteem or if s/he plans to link success with the presenting problem with previous successes. It is also useful for the client to know that that are seen as a person with a range of qualities, rather than with a list of defeats, ailments and issues.

Having covered the specific material related to the presenting problem and hypnosis, and the more general areas relating to the individual’s other relevant life experience (and having paid close attention to non-verbal behaviour, language etc) the next step is to focus back to the presenting problem. The therapist needs to know what the precipitating factors are for the thoughts/behaviour that the client wishes to change. Armed with the biographical knowledge, the therapist can supplement the client’s descriptions with specific questions relating to events and situations that the client has previously described (e.g., family, work, past failures, past experiences). This provides useful target areas for change. Additionally the therapist needs to explore the consequences that the client sees as coming from their thoughts/behaviour, both positive and negative as this can inform issues related to a client’s barriers to change, or extra motivations to succeed.

This approach, precipitating factors, behaviours and consequences is found in many therapeutic approaches and is known as ABC (Activating event, Belief (Behaviour), Consequence, e.g., Ellis, 1977).

Part of ABC is looking at underlying beliefs and thinking errors (e.g., catastrophic thinking, dichotomous thinking) which, as the quote from Epicetus suggested, is believed to be the central area for developing problems that a client might wish to change. The reason why these two themes are important is that they identify where hypnotherapy might be useful and how it would be best targeted. For example, if a client comes in claiming to be shy, and they have the underlying belief that they are unlovable that would suggest one course of action, whereas a similar client with a similar issue, but with the thinking error that to overcome their shyness they needed to be assertive and superior at all times would suggest another. The manifestation of the issue under concern cannot be the depth at which the therapist ceases their exploration.

Once the therapist has to their satisfaction gained enough information so that they can form a picture of the client, albeit at a later date, it might be advisable, time permitting, to give the client the opportunity to experience relaxation or mild hypnosis. Particularly in prospective clients who have a fear of the process this might be the aspect that decides if they will engage in therapy.

With the knowledge gained during the consultation the therapist will know whether imagery can be used, and if so what images should be used or avoided. No therapy should be attempted at this stage. It is important for the client to get a ‘feel’ for the therapist and to know if they are comfortable with the methods used, the voice etc. On completion of this (if undergone) the issue of the contact should be raised. Initially the contract should offer a 48-hour period during which the client needs to decide if they want to continue with therapy, with the current therapist, under the framework that the therapist works within.

Also, the client will know the costs and recommended number of visits and can make an informed choice regarding financial commitment, payments, failure to attend etc. The contract should re-iterate the confidentiality clauses, and detail what the client is agreeing to, and cancellation policies etc and provide the client with contact details.

The above description makes it very clear that a detailed consultation will be both time consuming and result in the exchange of much information. Sometimes it is not the explicit information alone which is important but reactions, comments, etc and these tiny details do need to be remembered. How should the therapist do this? There are a number of approaches.

Firstly the therapist might decide to rely on memory, and with practice it is possible to develop the ability to use specific points in a consultation to ‘hang’ other information from, so one remembers a narrative which can later be written down. The alternative is to either take notes or to record the consultation. In the former case there is the issue of attentiveness – is it possible to fully attend to a client and accurately note down all the detail and nuances of a consultation? In the latter there are issues of privacy – how comfortable are clients with the idea that their words are being recorded, even with the knowledge that these recordings will be erased later?

Possibly of all the issues within consultation this is the thorniest. As with other aspects it is probably best to be flexible, and know when one cannot rely on memory alone, and know when one must attend absolutely to the client and thus some mechanical means of recording is required. Although clients might be uncomfortable with being recorded it is likely that they will be less upset with that than with a therapist whose head is constantly in a note pad, or who has remembered some important detail of the life story that the client presented at consultation.

Consultation is neither a science nor an art, but a mixture which must be performed on a social tightrope, where the demands of balance co-exist with the cognitive demands of accuracy in an evolving dynamic. In some sense we know what it is, but essentially we need to know how to do it. However, the complexity, which makes it so engaging, also makes it difficult to define. Perhaps a paraphrased and adopted version of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle is at work here; if you can do a good consultation then you can’t know how to describe it, if you know how to describe it you probably can’t do it.


Beck, A.T. (1964). Thinking and depression: II. Theory and therapy. Archives of Genreal Psychiatry, 10, 561-571.

Ellis, A. (1977). The basic clinical theory of rational-emotive therapy, in A. Ellis and R. Grieger (Eds.), Handbook of Rational-Emotive Therapy. New York: Springer.

Fielding, R. (1995). Clinical communication skills. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.

Lloyd, M. (1996). Communication skills for medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.

NCHPa (1996). Treatment Schedules. National College of Hypnosis and Psychotherapy, Nelson: UK. p. 1

NCHPb (1996). Treatment Schedules. National College of Hypnosis and Psychotherapy, Nelson: UK. p. 4
Palmer, S. and McMahon, G (1997) (Eds). Client Assessment. London: Sage.

Parloff, M.B., Waskow, I.E., and Wolfe, B.E. (1978). Research on therapist variables in relation to process and outcome, in S.L. Garfield and A.E. Bergin (Eds.), Handbook of Psychotherapy and Behavior Change. “nd Ed., New York: Wiley. pp. 233-282.

Ridley, C.R. (1995). Overcoming unintentional racism in counselling and therapy: A practitioner’s guide to intentional intervention. Thousand Oaks, CA.: Sage.

Ruddell, P. and Curwen, B. (1997). What type of help? In S. Palmer and G. McMahon (1997) (Eds). Client Assessment. London: Sage.

Traux, C.B. and Carkhuff, R.R. (1967). Towards effective counselling and psychotherapy: Training and practice. Chicagoe: Aldine.

Comments are off for this post

Starting a Consulting Business – 5 Ideas For Success

May 31 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

Decades ago, starting a consulting business required huge capital, extensive logistics, and lengthy planning. Because of these requirements, only a limited number of people were able to start up a business and keep it running profitably. Nowadays, while you still certainly need to put a lot of thought and preparation into any business venture, practically anyone can start their own consultant business as long as the idea and the determination to succeed exist.

These drastic changes in the tools and costs necessary to start a consulting business have paved the way for changes in the business consulting world. Today, if you want to run a business consulting service, you have many more ideas and options to choose from than you did just a few years ago. To help you get started, below are 5 popular and lucrative fields in business consulting:

1. Entrepreneurship

Since more and more people are now putting up their own business, why not take advantage of this trend and start offering consulting services to these budding entrepreneurs? While most people today realize that owning a business can help them rake in a bigger monthly income in addition to their regular salaries, most of them really do not have adequate experience or knowledge in running a business. If you have some expertise in this area, you can help them out and make a good profit at the same time.

2. Computer Consulting

Let’s face it, even in this modern age, there are still a lot of people who are not that computer savvy. With ever advancing technology and software changing the business landscape business owners are actively seeking professionals to guide and support their businesses. From website design to VOIP systems computer consultants have many avenues of expertise for consulting. If you have a genuine interest in all things computer-related, you can earn yourself a lot of money by starting a computer consulting home business that can help old established business bridge the gap with modern technology.

3. Business Communications

If you are skilled in business writing, mediating, or even communicating over the phone, you have a chance of becoming a very successful business communications consultant. Even the best business people today are not necessarily good with communications, which is why they usually hire people to do these jobs for them. Expertise in social networking tools and proper communications methodologies is a bonus.

4. Human Resources

Most companies do have their own human resources department but unfortunately, this department usually only handles simple tasks like hiring of new personnel. For issues like employee contentment and team-building activities, companies usually look to outside sources for help. This is where a human resource consultant will step in. By being a separate and unbiased entity, your consulting firm can effectively help the company sort out whatever problems it may have.

5. Project Management

Project management methodologies and techniques are constantly evolving. With an emphasis on better, faster, and smoother project management consulting is an excellent option for niche consulting. Project management is not limited to typical projects; outside of the box consultants can offer services in managing advertising, photography, event-planning projects. You only need to market your services well and to the right market.

With the state of the current economy in flux these ideas are a good starting point for anyone looking to start their own consulting business. Taking the time upfront to evaluate the options available will ensure a better chance of success for your new business venture.

Comments are off for this post

Change Management Risk Assessment – Key Reference Points and Metrics

May 30 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

In addition to undertaking the “soft assessment” of individual readiness for change surveys, it is necessary to undertake the “hard assessment” to assess organisational readiness for change.

There are a number of inter-related dimensions that need to be assessed, and they are as follows:

# Maturity models
# Cultural assessment
# Benefit realisation
# Impact assessment
# Project complexity

Maturity models

One of the major reference points in change management risk assessment is the maturity model. This is my personal working definition of a maturity model:

“A maturity model is a structured representation of the stages of evolution of an organisation, as it transition through various developmental states and stages, in response to the impacts of changes in the organisation’s operating environment.

This evolution represents progress to more developed or advanced states of learning, insight, understanding and practise that support its strategic goals.”

Try these initial questions:

# Do you use project management?
# Do you use programme management?
# Do you know the difference?
# Do you know why knowing the difference matters?
# What is your organisation’s business process maturity?
# What is your organisation’s change management maturity?

Then try this simple test – review the different levels listed below (based on the P3M3 project management maturity model) – firstly in relation to project management and then secondly with programme management – and then across the other areas outlined above and see which best describes your organisation:

(No need for consultants – just treat this as a quick thought experiment initially – before examining each area in more depth.)

# Level 0 – No process – the organisation has no project and /or programme management skills or experience
# Level 1 – Awareness process – the organisation is able to recognize projects and/or programmes – but has little structured approach to dealing with them.
# Level 2 – Repeatable process – there may be areas that are beginning to use standard approaches to projects and/or programmes but there is no consistency of approach across the organisation.
# Level 3 – Defined process – there will be a consistent set of standards being used across the organisation with clear process ownership.
# Level 4 – Managed process – the organisation monitors and measures its process efficiency, with active interventions to improve the way it delivers based largely on evidence or performance based information.
# Level 5 – Optimised process – the organisation will be focussing on optimisation of its quantitatively managed processes to take into account changing business needs and external factors.

Cultural assessment

Organisational culture is the single biggest determinant of how an individual will behave within a business or organisational environment. It will over-ride education, intelligence and common sense. Therefore it needs to be an integral aspect of any change management risk assessment.

All too often I have seen many senior people in large organisations, whilst under the influence of the dominant organisational culture, behave in ways that on occasions defied common sense and the “blindingly obvious”.

Culture is also a major determinant in how people will react to change and change leaders’ attempts to apply “change management” to them.

Any attempt to address organisational culture involves these 3 processes:

# Cognition – understanding fully: “what we look like – how we want to look
# Communication – providing the framework and language of change
# Change – using appropriate tools, techniques and change processes

Cultural mapping and analysis is a critical aspect of change management risk assessment.

Benefit realisation

One of the many reasons that I advocate using a programme management based approach to change is that it focuses on the realisation of benefits.

Any change initiative that does not have clearly defined benefits supported by a benefit realisation plan runs yet another significant and common risk of failure.

This is often occurs where there is a project management driven change initiative, and it occurs because the focus of change management risk assessment is on the delivery of the new capability. This frequently causes change managers to overlook the need to implement plans to ensure that the defined organisational benefits are realised.

Impact Assessment

The failure – by change leaders – to identify and take full account of the impact of a change initiative on those people who will be most impacted by it is another major reason for change failure and thus another significant component of change management risk assessment.

A thorough stakeholder mapping and analysis is a key component of the programme based approach to managing a change initiative.

However, as Pat Zigarmi and Judd Hoskstra of Blanchard’s say:”Bottom line – people who plan change rarely implement the plan.”

But there is a deeper dimension to this – people don’t want you to try to sell change to them – they want to understand it and be involved in making it happen.

They also want to be asked ‘what works; what doesn’t’. If they are asked they will provide valuable guidelines and become an integral part of the process. This is – or should be – an integral aspect of the pre-programme review and planning process

Project Complexity

For change initiatives that comprise one or more projects and that will be delivered within a project management framework, project complexity is another significant aspect of change management risk assessment.

Statistically the size of the project, the scope of project and the duration of the project all contribute to project complexity and increased risk.

Two other important perspectives are your organisations legacy with projects which will be reflected in your organisation’s level of project management maturity all of which can simply be stated as your organisational capability.

Thus there is a very need to devise or acquire an assessment tool that will enable you to assess the complexity of your change initiative in relation to your organisational capability to handle it.

Comments are off for this post

Change Management Risk Assessment – The Context of Risk Vs Readiness

May 30 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

Change management risk assessment is complex and multi-dimensional and thus transcends what is traditionally understood by the concept of “risk assessment”. Risk assessment of a change management initiative is based on the premise that “organisational risk” is the inverse of “change readiness”.

In other words, the more ready the organisation is to change, the lower the risk of failure of the change initiative. So if we can establish some useful means for defining and calibrating change readiness then we can take steps to mitigate the likely causes of failure.

An appropriately selected change readiness assessment tool not only informs an initial change management risk assessment, but it also forms a baseline and be can re-administered to measure progress in change readiness – and thus reduction in change management risk – over time.

For a project management based change initiative, these assessments will help to reduce project risk.

The results of these assessments will shape key areas of the change management strategy and plan – specifically the communication strategy.

However, many companies – particularly in North America – do not stop and evaluate lessons leaned from past change initiatives before launching the next one. In recent interviews a key piece of advice that John Kotter offers is for organisational leaders to take the time to get themselves informed about what does and doesn’t work – before launching into action with a change initiative. As he says: “If you get that knowledge upfront, it can save you great grief and money later on.”

But before getting into the mechanics of tools that can be used to undertake a change readiness assessment we need to be understand the context of change management risk assessment and appreciate the significance of a number of inter-related factors:

(1) The marginal rate of change is increasing – and continues to do so

We used to believe that change occurs in cycles and waves that ebb and flow. This may be accurate over long time spans of hundreds of years, but in the present the rate of change is continually increasing and this has a significant impact on any change management risk assessment.

Based on his latest researches, Kotter says: “Many organisations just can’t keep up with the speed of change.”

This is profoundly important because it is closely linked to another major and frequently overlooked factor…

(2) The emergence of the flat world and horizontal management

I was tempted to headline this point the “death of command and control” – but that is not strictly true as there will always be situations where there is a need for firm direction and senior management edicts for compliance with the legal requirements related to the management and governance of organisations, and also in crisis situations.

However, in the “horizontal world” we now live in, information is available to all and the current and emergent technology infrastructure coupled with the proliferation of social media channels and tools allows for almost immediate dissemination and comment of gossip, opinion and factual information.

The days when decisions affecting many were taken by a few and then imposed on the many are dying – if for no other reason than people want and expect to be involved and they resist change that is imposed upon them. This is self-evident in the failure of 70% of significant change initiatives.

One of the keys to change management risk assessment lies in understanding the extent to which the change leadership are engaging directly with the “informal organisation” – sometimes referred to as the “shadow organisation” – from the outset – from the planning stage right through to implementation and beyond.

(3) Recognition of the importance of the emotional dimension of leadership

Many thought leaders in the world of change management and change leadership are now speaking vociferously about the importance of the emotional dimension of leadership and the need to address the human dimension of change.

These people include Daniel Goleman with his focus on primal leadership; John Kotter emphasises the need to motivate people by speaking to their feelings; Jon Katzenbach highlights the value of personalising the workplace; Andy Pearson emphasises how people will respond to their leaders efforts to connect with their emotional side; and of course William Bridges’ says that “A change can work only if the people affected by it can get through the transition it causes successfully.”

(4) The importance of the informal networks

Jon Katzenbach and Zia Khan, Authors of “Leading outside the Lines” make the important point that organisational leaders struggle to recognise the importance of the informal networks within their organisation, and the need to engage with them and mobilize them as a key method of accelerating the efforts of the formal (management) elements of the organisation.

Neil Farmer – a leading UK change expert and the leader of 5 major and successful UK corporate change initiatives – points out that whilst the formal organisation determines all routine aspects of what takes place, and in so doing provides the necessary “glue” of stability and repeatability, the shadow or informal organisation largely determines the scope and pace of change and is thus a major factor in change management risk assessment. He says that where the informal and formal organisations come into conflict, the informal nearly always are the most powerful.

(5) The answers are (almost) always at the frontline

With the exception of technical, financial and legal issues, the answers to issues relating to successful change planning, change impacts, change implementations and most importantly benefit realisation are to be found at the frontline.

In my own work I have found time and time again that the answers to the most challenging business issues, project and programme failures and performance problems always – without exception lies with the front line staff – those directly involved in “doing it”.

Also, the creative solutions to issues identified via change management risk assessment are to be found there as well.

All it takes, in my experience is the time, courtesy and empathic listening to the people at the “coal face” to find out what the issues and impacts are and also to discover what the solutions are.

(6) Stuck in Jurassic Park

The first and biggest step to making all this happen is one that can only be taken by the CEO and senior management of the organisation, and that is to relinquish (or at least relax) “command and control” sufficiently to empower the change leaders to identify and work in collaboration with the informal networks.

In my direct and observed experience, this still seldom happens. The dinosaurs still stalk the corridors of corporate power. The DNA of the leaders and senior management of most organisations (especially large ones) seems to be hard-coded to resist this – thus resistance to truly effective change management risk assessment starts at the top.

Here in the UK at least, this resistance to change in management style reflects the myopia that results from a general business culture fixated on short-term results.

All too often, the only conditions that encourage directors to relax command and control are either the appointment of a new CEO and/or senior management team, or the threat of a fairly major exposure i.e. an issue that is severe enough to create a personal accountability and potentially one that could be politically exploited to the personal detriment of the individual executive.

However, as Kotter’s observed rate of change gathers momentum these people will be exposed to ever increasing exposures and will either adapt or follow the fate of their Jurassic predecessors…

So the common thread running through all of these factors is the people dimension and the paramount need for change leaders to base their change readiness assessments around a detailed, direct and early engagement with the informal aspects of their organisation.

Comments are off for this post

Change Management Risk Assessment – The 2 Key Parameters

May 30 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

The two parameters of any change management risk assessment are firstly a change legacy assessment; followed by a present assessment.

Legacy assessment

It is absolute nonsense to contemplate – let alone commence – a change initiative without serious reference to your organisations’ history of attempting change.

Staggeringly, so many companies – especially in North America – do just that and rush into their next change initiative without debriefing and without conducting a change management risk assessment – and specifically without assessing what did and didn’t work last time, and why.

You need to get that knowledge and insight now, right up front as it can help you repeating past mistakes and failing with this your current initiative.

Your organisations’ “change readiness” is best indicated by your organisations’ legacy of change initiatives (both those that worked and those that didn’t work) as it provides an important early indicator of what lies ahead.

You also need to look at the scars left by successful as well as unsuccessful initiatives as it is crucial to understand and address the scar tissue left by previous initiatives.

Present assessment

There are 2 aspects to a “present assessment”: organisational readiness and individual readiness for change.

In this article we are going to focus on the people aspect, as individual readiness for change is more complex than it may appear:

# Who will be assessed for change readiness

# When will they be assessed?

# How will they be assessed and by what criteria?

These questions are addressed by considering the “6 Stages of Concern” which have been identified by Pat Zigarmi and Judd Hoskstra who are organisational change experts and co-authors of Ken Blanchard Companies “Leading People Through Change” programme.

They have co-authored an excellent article: “Leadership strategies for making change stick” that is based around the results and findings of a major study conducted by Blanchard in 2008 with over 900 training and HR leaders as to how they approach change.

They emphasise the need for change leadership’s involvement with people at all levels – in other words engaging with, and working through, the informal networks and the informal organisation. And it is their conclusion that for change to “stick”, you, as change leader, have to anticipate, un-cover and address the various layers and levels of concerns as and when they arise, and these have been identified as 6 stages of concerns:

(1) Information concerns – what is the change and why is it needed?

(2) Personal concerns – how will the change affect me personally and will I win or lose?

(3) Implementation concerns – what do I do first and how do I manage all the details?

(4) Impact concerns – is the effort worth it and is the change making a difference?

(5) Collaboration concerns – who else should be involved and how do we spread the word?

(6) Refinement concerns – how can we make the change even better?

A further dimension to be considered in any form of individual change readiness assessment is the “readiness for change gap” that exists between management and non-management employees.

Simply put, the less power and formal influence an employee has the less informed they will be and the greater their range of concerns. Research conducted by Jim Walters Jim Walters, director of customer relations for Rochester Public Utilities, showed that (in the utility sector) there were 3 main gaps between management and non management employees:

(1) Management employees are less ready for change than non-management employees.

(2) A significant difference exists between management and non-management employees’ task and impact related concerns for change.

(3) Management employees feel significantly more empowered than non-management employees.

So individual assessments of change readiness need to take full account of these identified stages of concern and the likely different perspectives and emphases of non-management employees compared with management employees – and all of this in the full context of the change legacy and scar tissue left from previous attempts at change management.

Comments are off for this post

Implementation of Change Management

May 30 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

Change indeed is fundamental in life. The reality of the complexity and vagrancy in the environment (external or internal) is that organisations and individuals are constantly being pressurised to change in one form or the other. Change could be rapid or slow, perceptible and imperceptible, minor or substantive.

Vecchio (2006) in a tone of finality submitted that all organisations (whether profit or nonprofit, military or mutinational corporations) have no choice but to change so as to keep up with the pressure from the environment (internal and external). It is a compelling case of “change or die” (Vecchio, 2006:365).

Pressures to change can be obvious or implicit. Managers are expected to anticipate and direct change process so that organizations can benefit from it. Infact Pantea (n.d) of the University of Aard,Romania suggested that underlying the Lewin’s Change Process model is that the change process eventually involves a learning experience as well as the expediency to abandon the “current attitudes, behaviours, or organizational practices”.

The forces of change can sometimes be intimidating and might include forecast of changing economic conditions, changing consumer preference, technological and scientific factors, globalisation and competition, and last but not the least, changes in legal landscape.

Response to the forces of change may require strategic change or operational change. Strategic change is organizational wide and has to do with organizational transformation. While strategic change has a long term focus, operational change has immediate effect on working arrangement within a part of the organization. Operational change focuses on elements like new systems, procedures, structures or technology. Organizational change can be static (Lewin’s model) or dynamic (Continuous Change Process Model).

Change management requires strategic thinking and planning, good implementation and stakeholders consultation. The change desired must be realistic, attainable and realistic.

Lewin’s view of the change process provides us with a tool or model of ascertaining the need for change, its implementation and monitoring. (Lewin, 1951). Armstrong (2006) identifies a plethora of change models including those of Bechard (1969), Thurley (1979), Quinn (1980), and Bandura (1986).

Lewin’s process model of planned change has the following underlying assumption:

1. Change process involves new learning as well as a paradigm shift from current attitudes, behaviours and organizational practices.

2. Occurrence of change is predicated on the existence of motivation to change. This is critical in change process.

3. People are central to organizational changes. Whatever the type of change desired at the end of the day it is the individuals that is the target of change.
4. Deisirability of the goals of change however intensive does not preclude the existence of resistance to change.

5. If change must be effective, new behaviours, attitudes and organizational practices must be reinforced.

Lewin’s planned model of change comprises of three steps described as unfreezing, change and re freezing. At the unfreezing stage, there is need to create awareness to change. The equilibrium that supports the existing practices, behaviours and attitudes must be altered.

Data collection may be necessary at this stage for further analysis so that the need for change may be apparent to all. At the changing stage the goal is to transform people, structure, task and technology as indicated in Vecchio (2006: 373). The refreezing stage requires that assessment of result be carried out with a view to making necessary modifications.

New responses could be developed based on the new information received. Reecho (2006:374) has identified forces of resistance to change to include: employee desires for security, contentment with the status quo, narrow force of change, group inertia, threatened expertise, threatened power, and changes in resource allocation.


Adeshina Adeleke and company comprises of a group of professionals specialising in property services it is a single line firm with headquarters in Lagos Nigeria. Adeshina Adeleke and company has branches in Abuja and Porthacourt, Nigeria and has developed competencies in Agency, Valuation and Facility Management.

It has a diversified and yet a cohesive workforce. Its workforce diversity is in terms of gender and ethnic groupings. The company has flat and yet optimally centralised structure. At the apex of the structure is the Principal Consultant who is the Chief Executive Officer.

Subordinated to it are the units/ branch heads. It has a strong and strategy ally culture. In terms of strategic grouping, the firm falls within the SME group and operate within the services segment of the property industry.

Adeshina Adeleke and company is affected by forces of change both in a systematic and unsystematic sense. The present economic downturn has a great effect on the Nigerian economy resulting in lack of liquidity in the property market. The effect of illiquidity is high property inventory for sale and to let within Adeshina Adeleke’s property bulletin.

Sales and letting are down and consistently for a quarter.Sales teams could not meet their targets. The result of the performance variance analysis triggered a need for strategic and operational change on the part of the firm. As a firm, we were caught off guard as the scenario we found ourselves in was never anticipated.

Management felt a need to increase sales and profitability and also to reposition the firm through necessary transformation. Although at the time, we were neither guided nor constrained by any model in managing the desired change, it would be useful to adopt Lewin’s planned change process to analyse Adeshina Adeleke and company’s change management process.
To kickstart the freezing stage the leadership of the firm created an awareness of the need to change, first among the management staff and later among the sales teams. Performance results for three months were discussed and analysed at management meeting.

Management as a whole was made to understand the emerging pattern and be sensitised on the need for a turn around. Subsequently a management staff was mandated to meet the sales teams and middle level managers to educate them on the firm’s predicament and the need to develop a sense of urgency for change.

Once a consensus was built on the urgency of the need for change, a management and staff committee was constituted to look in depth at the firm’s predicament with a view to proffering solutions. The committee’s recommendation include the following:

• Wider consultations with the rank and file so as to sell the change to the majority of staff especially the influential ones who are capable of building a coalition to resist the change. It is important that such groups be made to collaborate in the change process.

• Sales team members be sent on training to acquire further skills in marketing especially on selling during economic down turn.

• Abuja branch manager be replaced with Porthacourt branch manager who has been making waves in Porthacourt.

• A third of the sales team members be made to work on commission basis to reduce the overhead especially during transition period.

• That networking and cold calls should take a paramount place ahead of media campaign

• That our media campaign should be sustained.

• That an interventionist or a change agent should be allowed to lead the change.

Report of the committee was adopted and an HR practitioner was appointed to lead the change. Suffice it to say that we are still in the changing stage of the project. Sales staff are in and out of training both out and in-plant. Consultation is on going concerning those to be converted into commission based staffs.

A committee is looking into our business process and value chain activities with a view to eliminating non productive activities. Contributions of strategic business units are also being looked into so that decisions could be taken on their relevances.

Performances of members of our strategic group are being studied with curiosity. Our IT department is looking into the possibility of massive deployment of Ecommerce solutions for increased performance.


The firm is yet to get into the refreezing stage, rather it is still in transition. Time will tell whether those measures are worth the hassles and whether new knowledge will result.

I am of the opinion that the change project gives opportunity to mine data from all aspects and elements of the firm further analysis and decision making. It does appear the change project is slanted toward financials than the human element that ultimately make the change happen.


1. Armstrong, M., (2006) A Handbook Of Human Resource Management Practice, 10th Ed, Kogan Page. London.

2. Bandura, A, (1986) Social Boundaries of Thought And Action, Prentice- Hall, Eaglewood Cliff, NJ. In Armstrong, M., (2006) A Handbook Of Human Resource Management Practice, 10th Ed, Kogan Page. London.

3. Beckhard, R,. (1969) Organization Development: Strategy and Models, Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA.

4. Lewin, K (1951) Field Theory in Social Science, Harper & Row, New York. In Armstrong, M., (2006) A Handbook Of Human Resource Management Practice, 10th Ed, Kogan Page. London

5. Pantea, M.I.I.V.V (n.d) “Managing Change In Organizations. Aard University, Arad, Romania.

6. Quinn, J.B, (1980) “Managing Strategic Change”, Sloane Management Review, 11(4/5), pp 3-30. In Armstrong, M., (2006) A Handbook Of Human Resource Management Practice, 10th Ed, Kogan Page. London

7. Thurley, K (1979) Supervision: A reappraisal, Heinemann, London. In Armstrong, M., (2006) A Handbook Of Human Resource Management Practice, 10th Ed, Kogan Page. London.

8. Vecchio, R.P (2006). Organizational Behaviour: Core Concepts. 6th Ed, Thomson South- Western

Emmanuel Ibukun Efuntayo – is an accomplished real estate professional, and Principal Consultant of Ibukun Efuntayo & Co., a highly reputable firm of Estate Surveyors and Valuers specialised in providing expert – personalised – Estate Consultancy, Facility Management, Project Management, Property Development and Valuation services to clients.

With more than a decade of post-qualification experience, gained from working in the past, with companies like NNPC and Eko International Bank (now EIB International Bank), Emmanuel leads an efficient team of real estate experts recognised for delivering good quality, prompt and courteous services to clients

Comments are off for this post

Change Management Or Transition Management?

May 30 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

A train requires two well-maintained rails to reach its destination. Like the train, organizations going through change require two well-maintained rails to succeed: a change management plan and a transition management strategy. Even though both are necessary, one usually gets most of the attention. “While most leaders focus the majority of their time and attention on the numbers, the people issues often make or break a deal.” (Gambill and Hodge)

What’s difference between Change Management and Transition Management? “Change is the event and transition is the process.” (W. Bridges) Change Management concerns itself with the physical aspects of change- what needs to be done, when and by whom. Transition Management, on the other hand, is about people and how they are affected by the change. Transitions must be managed carefully to enable people to let go and reorient themselves so that the change can work.

In my experience, most leaders seem to understand Change Management, but they have not done very well at managing transitions. There can be many reasons for this, but the most common is simply that the details clamour for attention.

Let me illustrate, I was contracted to assist management with the transitions issues of moving into a new facility. After four days of management training, I met with division managers to help them develop a transition management plan for their departments. We began with a reminder of the difference between Change Management and Transition Management. Then, we agreed that we would focus on Transition Management. After only five minutes of discussion, information came to light about structural problems with the facility. Immediately, the managers pounced on the problem, asking probing questions about the causes and offered possible solutions to resolve the issue. As the discussion continued, I asked a parenthetical question, “Just curious, is this discussion about Change Management or Transition Management?” One of the managers turned red and said, “Alright, we get your point.”

This is usually how Transition Management gets squeezed out of the picture. It is not intentional; it is simply that the devil is in the details. Naturally, management focuses on the issues that seem most pressing. Later, when it comes time for the changes to occur, leaders encounter surprising difficulties: dependable employees resist making the prescribed changes, confusion and conflicts erupt in the workplace, costs escalate and increased sick leave, to name a few. Unfortunately, many leaders assume that if they plan the change carefully enough, the transition will follow automatically.

Managing transitions can be frustrating for leaders because the process is not linear or sequential (like Change Management). Transition Management requires a multifaceted, simultaneous approach. In other words, there are a variety of ways to support people throughout the change process. Some managers feel their job is done if they provide Stress Management assistance. My answer would be “It’s a good start.”

This is probably sounding all too familiar for managers entrusted with implementing change. After identifying some of the traps and pitfalls of the change process, it begs the question: What can managers do to implement changes more successfully? There is not one easy answer. Let me suggest six topic areas that will help managers head in the right direction. The list is not exhaustive, but indicates the kind of needs people have that go through change: Leadership, Engagement, Trust and Betrayal, Coping with Anger, Transition Management, Communication.

Comments are off for this post

What to Look for in a Salesforce Consultant

May 30 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

Today businesses are looking to Consultants more than ever, to help fill their Salesforce development needs. This is understandable when you consider one of the main selling points of using a Software-as-a-Service model, is that it does not require extensive IT resource to run efficiently. However this does not mean that companies will not need knowledge experts along the way, in order to get the most value for their Salesforce investment.

When deciding on a Salesforce Consultant for your organization there are three key areas in deciding if the firm you’re speaking with will be able to meet the needs of your organization. When it comes to choosing the right Salesforce Consultant for your project, you will want to find Effective Communicators, Knowledge Experts and Innovative Solution Providers.

Communication is a two way street! One of the most important jobs of a Salesforce consultant is to be able to listen to and understand what your business objectives are. While you may know what your ultimate goal is, as far as functionality, you are depending on your consulting partner to ask the right questions to ensure these ideas can be translated into designs.

Before any work begins you should be confident that your ideas were properly understood and you should be provided with a documentation of exactly what your consulting partner understands the scope of your project to be. Another key aspect in developing a relationship with a consulting partner is to choose someone that can adapt to change. Business moves quickly and so does your business requirement. Your consulting partner should be Agile enough to be able to make adjustments to minor changes in requirements. Choosing an Agile company will provide flexibility and a happier outcome. Agile companies work on time and materials vs the old requirements heavy waterfall fixed prices. Going with a T&M and Agile methodology will ensure project success but be sure to understand how the company keeps your project on a budget when working in an Agile manner.

Knowledge Experts. When choosing a consulting partner you will want to be dealing with Knowledge experts. While you may not need a full time developer guru, your consulting partner certainly should be providing you with top talent! Salesforce has made it easier for you to find companies with the proper amount of knowledge for your project. Salesforce has broken their certifications of knowledge experts into three tracks, Administrator, Developer and Implementation Experts.

Salesforce Certified Administrators are experts in user management and security, automation of workflow and approvals, as well as the core features of both Sales and Service cloud. Your Salesforce Certified Administrator is your font-line go-to person for managing and maintaining your Salesforce Org. Certified Developers are experts in both the declarative, or clicks-not-code, functionality of Salesforce as well as identifying use cases and best practices for building custom applications using Apex and Visualforce. Your developer partner will be able to provide expert guidance in designing an effective data model, evaluating and configuring your security settings, developing advanced business logic and customizing your user interface.

Implementation Expert -There are two separate certifications that Salesforce offers to demonstrate expertise in providing initial implementations. Certified Sales Cloud Consultants or Certified Service Cloud Consultants have demonstrated their ability to meet the demanding challenges of implementing customer-facing solutions.

Sales Cloud Consultants are able to design Sales and Marketing solutions, Design applications and customize the user interface to increase productivity, and design analytic solutions to track key metrics

Service Cloud Consultants are able to design solutions for businesses that are focused on building long-term customer success. Your Service Cloud Consulting Partner will design Customer Contact Center Solutions that can incorporate key Service Cloud features such as Cases, Customer and Partner Portals, and Knowledge Bases.

Innovative Solution Providers – These combinations of skills and core competencies are the key to a successful Salesforce Consulting Partner. While there are many ways in which to design and implement a Salesforce solution, a successful Salesforce consulting partner will be able to both advise on Best Practices, as well as find innovative solutions that are designed specifically to meet your individual business requirements. Salesforce and the platform are flexible because all businesses are not the same, and their technology solutions must be equally unique to maximize efficiency.

Company Stability – How long the company has been in business is important! You want to ensure this company isn’t just a “Salesforce boutique company” but a full solution provider for all of your technical needs. If the company has a winning track record and has been in business with more than just Salesforce they have the ability to supply more than just one area of solution. This is an excellent choice in a company because they will have the scalability and in-house knowledge to meet any need you may have. Also, if they have been around for 10 years or more they probably won’t take your money and run or you won’t be finding out that they are closing their doors anytime soon. Ask how large their balance sheet is and insure they have the staying power.

Trustworthy Reputation - Are they having customer satisfaction issues? We certainly hope not! One way to understand is to ask for a non-disclosure agreement right away. Next ask for references so you know who you are dealing with!

Comments are off for this post

Consultants Offer Flexibility, Hands-Off Productivity

May 29 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

With staff sizes and budgets restricted or diminishing, and top executives up and down the ladder under pressure to do more with less each year, many savvy executives are seeking help among the seeming army of consultants of every stripe to get their companies on the profitability track. Are they finding success down that road?

The idea of the consultant is ancient – Egyptian kings and pharaohs had “consultants” with specialized magical talents to advise them and point them in the right direction when governing the masses. King Tutankhamun had one of the greatest PR consultants ever seen, who told him that to the Egyptian people, big buildings mean big power, big statues mean big power – and Tut and other Pharaohs took this to heart and built the pyramids of Giza and other wonders of the ancient world.

Consultants can be used for a variety of purposes, from adding moral support in difficult or uncomfortable political situations, to adding credibility to pet projects in communicating them to Boards or subordinates. The image of the unfamiliar man with the briefcase and the air of confidence in the boss’s office was born out of some particularly sticky board meetings in the 1960s by top executives at a large conglomerate who’s ideas were not being communicated effectively or credibly, and a CEO who’s head was on the block. Once the Board members heard the same message in a different way coming from the consultant, an expert in such matters, they approved the plan and the CEO was spared. The consultant in that case didn’t come up with the idea, he simply communicated it effectively and lent his credibility to the idea.

This practice continues today with great success in companies and organizations across America. Communication by proxy can be used as an effective strategy if a number of conditions are met. One is that the idea or issue must have real merit on its own.

A bad idea is a bad idea, no matter who presents it. Another condition is that the consultant be at least as credible as the staffer to the selected audience. He should be a known, or at least vetted, quantity, with the credentials to back it up. Once those two elements are in place, communication by proxy can be effective in getting new ideas implemented.

Short Term Expertise
Consultants have many other functions as well, and most departments within the organization can find a number of consultants that specialize in their particular areas of functionality to assist them. Sometimes consultants can simply be used as additional manpower, fill-ins for key employees on personal leave, plug-ins providing necessary functionality on short notice for the short term.

These are not temps you can call in for a day or two while someone is out with the flu. They are highly-trained, experienced executives who have been in many different corporate situations and reached a level of comfort with the commonalities in procedures in their area between companies to be effective quickly. They are typically not used in situations where the term is shorter than a month, as the cost of lost opportunity for a stint that short drives the hourly rate beyond the return value.

Expectations in this situation are relatively high, as the consultant is being asked to step into any number of situations already in place and under way, and gather sufficient information from internal sources to keep these projects moving forward effectively, in a very short period of time, but without injecting much of their own influence or changing the direction of the project. This is a tough gig, and successful consultants are to be highly prized and respected for this set of skills that make such performance not only possible but routine. When projects are critical, and the schedule is inflexible for any number of reasons, this may be a good option for mid-size to large organizations.

“Special” Projects
Some organizations use consultants as outboard manpower to plan and implement special projects outside the normal scope of the department or organization, or for projects that are of vital concern to the organization’s success but only come up rarely.

Changing membership databases for a non-profit organization is a prime example of this type of consultant use. An IT or Association Consultant who has been through many such changeovers and data conversions can be an invaluable resource for such a critical undertaking that most organizations only face every few years. Hiring a consultant under such circumstances will expand and extend the organization’s scope of expertise for a short period, and take advantage of specialized knowledge that isn’t needed on a regular basis.

The expense of the consultant is far outweighed by the savings gained by avoiding a misstep in the process and crippling your organization, however temporarily, while the problem is investigated and fixed. The consultant can prevent you from making a poor purchasing decision, and mitigates buyer’s remorse by making the correct match between user and product.

Sometimes that special project requires some specialized expertise in order to allow a “pet” project to be executed properly, and that expertise doesn’t exist in house. If time is a factor, and there’s no time for internal staff to develop that type or level of expertise, a consultant can be an excellent solution. The can work directly with your internal staff, provide the expertise necessary to move the project forward effectively, by-pass the internal chain of command and the inherent internal politics, and propel the project to a successful conclusion quickly and effectively.

There are some guidelines to keep in mind when using a consultant for this purpose.

* When planning to include a consultant in the mix, be sure to make “room” for them both in the budget and in the schedule. There will be some initial ramp up, no matter how short, as they learn to work with the particular in-house players, and assess their individual capabilities. Leave a reasonable time for them to get acclimated and figure out who’s who in your organization.

* Depending on the type of project, the consultant has been hired to provide expertise, advice and specialized services. This often requires change from the status quo, introduction of new ideas, and some assessment of the internal strengths and weaknesses on the team. Take the advice and ideas you’re given and make the most of it. Putting up roadblocks, creating obstacles, withholding information, and rejecting ideas out of hand are all a waste of time and money. You’ve hired him or her as an expert, treat them as such, and listen to them.

* When planning to use a consultant, build into your plan sufficient staff time to manage the consultant, and the money in the budget to implement the ideas they introduce. You’ve hired an expert, but if you don’t leave room in the budget to put into practice the concepts they introduce, you’ve only done half the job. Even if you don’t keep the consultant in the picture during the implementation, you still need to fund the project sufficiently to be successful.

Most good consultants in most fields have learned to work with a bare minimum of supervision or management. If you carefully outline the goals for the project, introduce them effectively to the internal staff, and provide the resources and the communication pathway for them to get accurate, unvarnished answers to questions quickly, they will take the ball and run with it.

In order to keep them from veering too far from what you envision a success to be, some check-ins or milestones for approval should be built into the project schedule. That way you can adjust the course at critical junctures before they go too far off the map. Too many of these can erode the effectiveness of the consultant and doom the project, so avoid the temptation to micro manage. You had the foresight to hire them, now let them do their thing. Too few milestones can lead to some surprises, when the end of the project approaches and the final product is not what you envisioned and you don’t know why. A happy medium and a light touch usually lead to a successful outcome.

The financial arrangements for consultants vary to some degree, depending upon the industry, the scope and duration of the project, and the nature of the organization. Many work on an hourly rate, which are standardized to some degree based on what the market will bear for the size of the projects, the area of expertise, the reputation of the consultant, and the geographic area.

A Human Resources Consultant will likely charge a small company in Tennessee less per hour for a candidate search than a large company in New York City, and the company’s expectations and needs will likely differ as well. The rate can be negotiated up front, before the project starts, and the terms are often outlined in a binding legal contract. Most Boards insist on such a document in one form or another, to help provide the company some recourse and some protection for both parties should outcome turn out to be less than expected.

Some consultants in certain industries work on a fixed project fee. This is negotiated up front as well, once the scope and extent of their involvement and the size of the project has been agreed upon. A contract is often required for this arrangement as well, with some contracts including an incentive bonus for successful or early completion or for staying under established budget guidelines.

On rare occasion, a consultant will work on a contingency, similar to a tort or personal injury attorney. Especially in forensic financial work, collections, auditing, or tax work, these arrangements exist where the consultant’s fee or payment is tied either directly or indirectly to the money they are able to recover or save the company.

No matter what the arrangement, no matter what the industry, selecting which consultant to work with is a critical step to a successful outcome. A recommendation from a colleague who has used someone for a similar project is a great start. Other sources include your local Chamber of Commerce, and industry-specific trade publication editors. The local College or University department most closely aligned with your industry is also a good source of “experts” in your selected field. Once you’ve gathered a few names, a brief phone interview is always a good idea. That alone can whittle the field down to two or three suitable candidates.

Their availability, and responsiveness will give you an idea as to what they will be like to work with on your project, and you can prepare some industry specific questions to ask, to see how close to your industry and your project they are currently. Once these are complete, a personal interview is in order. This will give you an even better idea as to the character of your candidates and their capabilities. Each candidate should furnish a list of client references, and they should be rigorously checked before making a decision.

Once a decision is made, financial arrangements can be made, and your project can begin.

Consultants can be a vital part of your organization, expanding your capabilities, allowing you flexibility in staffing to meet short term needs, and let you take advantage of expertise beyond the level you are able to train in house. Used wisely and strategically, consultants can help you meet goals, complete new projects, grow your organization and function more efficiently and profitably.

Comments are off for this post

Older posts »