A CONSULTANT’s BEST FRIEND: THEIR WORKPLAN
A workplan is a key tool to manage a consultancy project. An early workplan can make the time estimates in the project proposal more realistic; a detailed workplan is the key living document that guides the entire project.
Since the workplan is a working document for the team, it need not be pretty. Excel is easiest (don’t bother developing a Gantt chart except for presentations). A workplan could be structured like this:
|1.1 Can Kingsford grow profit through increasing pricing?
|1.1 Kingsford can increase profit $2m by increasing prices 5%
|a) Calculate historic price elasticity
b) Model retailer reaction
c) Assess trade and competitor reactions
|Kingsford internal data
|4thMarket research finished
20th Analysis done
CREATING THE WORKPLAN
- Have you started with an issue tree, or other problem-solving tool?
- Have you identified how you can find evidence under each point?
- Is every issue is broken down to individual tasks?
- Does each task have its own line, so deadlines and status can be tracked for each task?
- Have you allowed enough time to prepare for presentations, and send the pack in advance of meetings?
- Have long lead-time items (e.g. market research, interviews) been identified and kicked-off early?
- Have information requests been consolidated?
- Is the workload spread smoothly, not back-loaded?
- Are there enough small frequent milestones to identify if the project is on track?
- Have responsibilities for specific chunks of work been clearly assigned to team-members? Do they understand what is expected? Have they committed to the deadline?
MANAGING USING THE WORKPLAN
- Is there a clear project manager coordinating across the team?
- Is the workplan a living document, updated whenever the work changes?
- Is the workplan referred to at every team meeting?
- Do you flag to the team immediately you go off track? Do you take corrective action – to reassign resources or re-prioritise scope?
TRACKING THE WORK THROUGH WEEKLY UPDATES
The simplest form of weekly updates is to track results/milestones:
RESULTS PROMISED LAST WEEK
RESULTS DELIVERED LAST WEEK
RESULTS PROMISED NEXT WEEK
Results ≠ Activity
The key to using this successfully is to focus on specific results/deliverables that are clearly done/not done, rather than fluffy “activity” that could mean anything at all. Results must be measurable.
“Did online research” is an activity
“Completed competitor analysis pack” is a result
“Worked on presentation” is an activity
“Completed first draft of storyline” is a result