Business worker covered in post it notes

The consulting environment is unique in being heavily dependent on our people and their knowledge; where we typically measure success by billable utilisation and a backlog of projects and future revenue. But whilst so many of us strive to achieve these targets, we often lose sight of ways to capture previous project and client knowledge, automate our processes and streamline our systems and daily tasks. We are so busy delivering on our projects that we don’t take the time to step back and look at the how and why of what we are trying to achieve and how we could make these projects and our practice management more efficient. When setting utilisation targets it is essential that you not only set these for billable work and BD activities, but also practice management and development. This gives your team the time to review and embed their knowledge related to their projects, processes and documentation. You want your team to think like business owners and spend a percentage of their time on their projects rather than in them.

But this is easier said than done, particularly when you are starting out and you are conscious of every hour that you work that you are not earning revenue from. Finding this balance is a challenge and often not one of our immediate priorities.

Take the proposal process as an example, this is a very labour intensive process within all consulting organisations and it often takes days or weeks to prepare a single proposal. Typically, proposal preparation involves searching old proposals, a few cut and pastes and then the proposal manager is constantly chasing others for their input and review to complete the proposal. But what if you could automate this? What if you could template this process allowing you to prepare 80% of the skeleton of the proposal document within a few seconds? What if you could set up work flows such that the individuals had timeframes in which they had to complete their contribution or review? What a game changer……. and this technology is out there, off the shelf products that will allow you to achieve this within your business.

Some of the many benefits to automating and streamlining your business include;

  • A reduction in your practice development time, allowing you to focus on consulting with your clients
  • Providing consistency across your team, processes and systems
  • Ensuring you maintain the quality of the services you provide
  • Reducing the time spent on repetitive activities and tasks
  • Succession planning; minimising the loss of knowledge when employees leave
  • Allowing you to take the knowledge in your peoples head and translate this into your processes and documentation reducing the dependency on owners, Directors and senior personnel
  • Improving profitability and reducing margin erosion on projects by ensuring you document and standardise your key processes
  • Enabling owners to be on the business rather than in the business through setting up their consulting firms for success

When we started BRS, many of our friends and colleagues within our industry questioned our strong front of mind focus on practice development and management activities. They could not understand why we would invest so much time and effort in our initial stages in setting up our systems and processes. But we wanted to build a platform for our business that would set us up for long term success, growth and sustainability and give us more time. A business that consistently provided high quality outcomes to our clients, where our clients not only returned to us for other projects, but they were advocates of our business, bringing new clients on board. Our investment in automating and streamlining our processes and documentation has allowed us to do just that. This systemisation been made up of more than a hundred little things that have enabled up to spend more time on what really matters

Do not underestimate the impact of automating and systemising your processes. The efficiencies you will gain will reward you 10 fold and allow you to focus on your clients and projects that you enjoy undertaking. After all, isn’t this the main reason you went into consulting in the first place?!