The 5 Steps of the Consulting Engagement Cycle


Your marketing efforts have paid off. All of your activities on social media and doing speeches worked. You created a proposal, negotiated and renegotiated with your client and the deal is done.

And now you’re wondering what to do now.

Just like your clients have processes in place to ensure consistently high customer service, you have to do the same. This consulting process is what I call the “Consulting Engagement Cycle.” It is not an exact formula you need to follow but a guideline that helps you ensure that you can deliver excellence every time, with every client.

There are five steps in the Consulting Engagement Cycle:

Step 1: Establish Winning Partnerships

Sales is not what you get through in order to get to the work. It is actually the first step in your consulting delivery. During contracting, you and your client come to agreement on the business objectives at hand and how the two of you will partner together to achieve those objectives. This phase of the work is when you win both business AND establish trust and a peer-to-peer relationship.

Step 2: Assessment

Once you establish a solid partnership, you’re ready to do the work. Success in this part of the cycle is all about taking an independent point of view on the organization you’re serving, which is the only way to be a true instrument of change.

Steps 3 & 4: Solution Design & Delivery

Once you understand the root causes of the challenges you see, you’ll move to Solution Design and Delivery. This step is all about creating processes, tools, coalitions, etc. to solve organizational issues. This is the bread and butter of what you do as a consultant, the vehicle by which you facilitate change.

Step 5: Measure Results

Most consultants are so excited to get the work done, that this final step may take a back seat. It’s critical to measure the results of your intervention. If you want to leave a company in a place to continually improve—and help them create a culture of improvement—setting up a system to measure these results is critical.

In addition to this being important to the client, it’s also important for you in establishing a track record for yourself. It can be tricky to isolate your individual contribution, but tracking and evaluating the organization’s results is the first step. Some consultants discover some unexpected things in this phase. You may actually produce value that you didn’t expect. The results of this measurement phase might make you stop and think, “Maybe my brand isn’t what I think it is.”

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