When it is all said and done most engagements, or projects, tend to require an end of project report. A summary of the work that was done, describing the value, recommendations and next steps in order to get the most out of the clients investment.
These are fantastic sales and marketing opportunities, yet they are so often done very (VERY) badly.
Writing the end of project report doesn’t start at the end, it starts at the beginning.
Before the work is sold the clients are already thinking about, and have discussed with you, the value that they can get from this work.
When you arrive you are working with them to define the areas and activities, work through the problems and processes, and (again) define the evalue that will be returned.
When the report is finally submitted there should be no surprises at all. They already know what has been achieved and what the document will contain. Why? Because they, through your expert consulting engagement skills, basically wrote it for you!
The end of project report, whether its a week, a month or several years, then goes in like this:
Not what we did but what we achieved. Not the actions we took but the value that we delivered. Not how but who and how much.
Short concise descriptions of what was done, by who, what the outcome was. Any reservations, assumptions and other factors also go in here.
Do not make this a gigantic thesis sized document! Tell them what they need to know. DO NOT waste time trying to tell them everything that you know.(Tip: Nobody cares!)
Repeat what was achieved here, do it with more detail and include some of the lesser value areas that you didnt get to include previously. Use the Value Quadrant approach to defining value of the engagement. E.g. revenue first, cost reductions second, risk mitigation and cost avoidance third, and knowledge fourth.
Change this to suit each client and each engagement, but the key is to focus it on whatever is going to get the best reception.
Always have quantified and pre-agreed value statements. ideally the value statement would have actually been drafted by the client, but the next best thing is when you facilitate a session and they define it.
The Way Forward
After the value statement you must include the Way Forward section. (You must) This is the lead in to your next engagement.
Think about what they need to do next.. implementation, metrics, facilitations, training, data management, mentoring and coaching...whatever.
Here you clearly state the next steps the client must take to get the most out of this. What they can do themselves and what you recommend they look elsewhere for (i.e. at you!!) and the value attached to every one of the items that you have listed.
Consulting based on value is not an easy thing to do initially. It takes some thought and some long hours to get it right at the beginning. But once you get into a groove the value of your work becomes immediately apparent to you.
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