How we structure consulting projects
While the consulting team is made up of students, make no mistake—this is a structured, fully-scoped consulting engagement, where we have a contractual obligation to deliver. Projects require about 750 hours of effort from the team over a 17-week period. There are milestones that consist of client sign-off in order for the team to progress to the next stage.
Your first touchpoint is with our director, who assesses the general project scope and matches it with the right mix of consultants based on their expertise, industry interests, experience, and concentration in the program (marketing, finance, or business analytics). At the same time, new consultants are going through rigorous training around problem-solving methodologies, strategy frameworks, and models for administering and delivering successful projects.
No two projects are alike, but a typical project is broken up into four phases. Each phase contains client sign-offs and in-person meetings that include project kick-off, formal midpoint check-in, and a final presentation.
Phase 0—Setup (weeks 1-2)
This is the foundation of the project and it starts with a kick-off lunch. Together we define the scope, and finalize an arrangement letter, a nondisclosure agreement (NDA), a project charter, and determine deliverables for the project.
Deliverables—signed by all parties
- Nondisclosure agreement (NDA)
- Limitation of liabilities/other contract terms
- Project charter
- Arrangement letter
- Work plan
Phase 1—Data gathering (weeks 1-6)
We identify and obtain access to the data and sources that are needed for analysis. We conduct intake interviews and design surveys, if applicable. We then seek your approval to move forward to Phase 2. A midpoint presentation concludes this phase.
- Company analysis
- Mid-project presentation (including outline of final report)
- Underlying data and sources
Phase 2—Analysis (weeks 7-11)
Most of this phase is not client-facing. We select analytical techniques to be used, identify the appropriate frameworks, and apply them to the data we have gathered in Phase 1.
- Frameworks applied to primary and secondary research
- Analytical portions of the final presentation
Phase 3—Recommendations (weeks 12-15)
We focus on developing a set of conclusions based on Phase 2. We formulate our recommendations, develop an implementation plan, and present them for your final sign-off.
- Final presentation containing conclusions and recommendations along with supporting data and research
- High-level work plan for implementation
Three predictors of a successful project
The first ingredient of a successful project is open access. An engaged client who meets with students on a regular basis and remains transparent about the information they share builds a strong foundation for the project.
The second factor is a good team leader from the second-year class who is committed to steering the team and creating a climate of collaboration. That’s why we determine project leads months before the projects are kicked off.
The third is a well-rounded team. One that is cross-functional and avoids looking at the project from a single dimension.