Creating a Workplan

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:

Issue Hypothesis Analysis DataSources Who? Deadlines Status?
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

 

Consultants model

Trade Interviews

David

 

4thMarket research finished

15thModel complete

20th Analysis done

Done

 

On track

 

On track

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

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