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The Hard Truth: Why Many Consulting Projects Fail

Engaging a consulting firm can be the key to innovation, expansion, and project execution, but only if you do it right.

Pepper Foster Consulting

Engaging a consulting firm is often lauded as the key to innovation, expansion, and project execution.

But, in reality many, if not most, consulting projects fail. Let's dig into why.

Misaligned or Unclear Expectations

Expectations between consultants and their clients often diverge, most frequently because they aren’t clearly communicated and understood, but sometimes because the consultant overpromises to win the deal.

This misalignment sours relationships and can lead to lost time, resources, and opportunities and significant budget overruns, affecting your ROI and bottom line.

To combat this

→ Make sure you fully communicate and document your expectations, the project deliverables, and the project timelines in the statement of work.

→ Make sure to confirm with the consultant verbally that they fully understand and are committed to meeting those expectations.

Bad Culture Fit

Consultants are often hired based on their brand and expertise but the single most important driver of success is how well they fit and work within your culture and with your team.

Let’s face it, a lot of consultants are arrogant jerks! They think they’re smarter than you and your team and they often come in thinking they have all the answers. Sometimes they don’t even care if you are successful or not, they just want to sell the next deal and move on.

→ Make sure you engage a firm that not only has the expertise you need but also truly cares about your success, wants to make a difference, and is humble. A firm that will listen and ask questions, understand what’s really important, appreciate the uniqueness of your culture, environment, situation, and team, and work with you to figure stuff out and get stuff done.

Trying To Do Too Much

One of the reasons to engage a consulting firm is so that you can get more done more quickly but there is a limit to how much more can be achieved even with an army of consultants. As the old saying goes, you can’t hire two women to make a baby in four and a half months.

→ Make sure you really understand the critical path of your project and where adding consultants will help accelerate and where it won’t.

→ Understand how much change your team and company can realistically consume. Look for the Goldilocks solutions; not too much, not too little, just right!

Not Enough Time or Money or Both

Often consultants are only engaged when the problem has gotten so bad that a solution is desperately needed now! As a result, there often isn’t enough time to be successful. Other times, the budget assigned just isn’t realistic and therefore the only options are to go with a cheaper firm or to try and cut scope or hours back to what’s affordable.

→ For a consulting project to be successful there has to be enough time and money to clarify and ensure expectations are aligned, to engage the right firm, to do proper change leadership, and to execute enough scope to actually make a difference.

The 'Next Shiny Object' Syndrome

Every generation of leaders and workers wants to make an impact and do things differently. But in reality, there are very few new ideas and most new ideas are a rebranding of old ones, even in technology. Chasing the next shiny object or the latest trend without fully considering the goals or the impacts can derail entire teams and companies.

→ Make sure you fully vet if, why, how, and when that new exciting tool, technology, or approach will actually benefit your organization.

→ Carefully analyze your business and approach to market and work out what you need to change and update, but more importantly, identify the things you need to keep and reinforce. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!

Consulting projects don't have to fail.

By understanding and applying these insights, you can forge powerful, effective partnerships with consulting partners that drive growth and innovation.

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Let's partner to find the perfect solution for your organization and make a difference together.

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