Developing and presenting project plans, scope, and timeline

As a consultant, you're regularly called upon to provide clients with an objective analysis of their business. Companies rely on consultants to give them the straight scoop — free of politics or bias — about an organization's strengths and weaknesses. They also need you to provide the best options for solving that business's problems, meeting challenges, and improving their overall performance and value. A consultant's ability to compile and deliver this information is key.

Before you can get to this stage, you must first communicate to the client the path you'll take and the parameters that will define your project. A solid project plan, scope statement, and timeline is the backbone of any successful project — and effectively communicating these factors to the client early is integral to a smooth consultant/client relationship.

Have you ever put in extra hours to meet client expectations and deliver components that weren't part of your original scope discussion? Or worked overtime in preparation to start a project immediately, at the client's request, only to find yourself waiting for necessary information or personnel promised by the client, but never delivered? Have you ever been caught in a whirlpool of brainstorming sessions or follow-up trainings? Or, perhaps worst of all, have you received payment far later than expected, or earlier, but with an unforeseen "early-payment discount" figured in?

Seasoned consultants are familiar with the pitfalls of proceeding on a project that lacks a well-defined plan and isn't completely supported by client buy-in.

Use the following tools and information to help you prepare for your next project and prevent unexpected obstacles.

Applies to:
Excel 2003, PowerPoint 2003, Project 2003, Visio 2003, Word 2003