If you’ve decided you need the services of a business transformation consultancy, setting out a clear brief at the start of the project can save a lot of wasted cash and time later on.

In this blog I’ll share seven key pieces of information I look for in a brief to help me understand the scope of a project, and the likely costs and timelines.

1. The ‘From / To’ state

A description of the current situation (eg “we’ve just invested in Workday, but the data is inaccurate”) and the desired end state (eg “we want managers to take responsibility for ensuring their team data is up to date”).

It sounds simple but this basic information expressed succinctly gets to the nub of the requirement quickly and clearly.  

2. The scope

Is this a change that only affects one or two departments in APAC? Or is it a company-wide transformation that will have an impact on every employee in four continents? Is this really a business transformation or a more straightforward change project?

3. What’s been tried so far?

It’s always useful to know what initiatives have been attempted and why they might not have delivered the required end state. This may simply be a question of capacity; in my experience ‘business as usual’ can often take priority over strategic initiatives when you are deeply immersed in an organisation.

4. The obstacles

It’s useful to know what has got or might get in the way of a resolution. Obstacles can range from the behaviour of an individual or group (eg “our managers still let team members book vacations using the old system”) through to budget or issues with infrastructure or technology.

If a key obstacle is lack of leadership alignment, sharing this information now can save a lot of costs and heartache. A business transformation consultancy can help to judge if your leadership is persuadable and will put together a compelling business case, where there is one. But without leadership alignment the project simply will not happen.

5. Who are the champions of the change?

Who are the people asking for and/or driving the change? Often it will not be the person in the initial meetings whose role it is to screen the potential providers.

If you are that person, it’s always useful to share information about where this request is coming from so the consultancy can pitch and present proposals in the best way to meet the need. A good consultancy will never lose sight of the fact that the first part of our job is to help the person giving the brief gets the kind of response they need. 

6. What does good look like?

A favourite question of consultants is ‘What does good look like’, inviting you to explain how the success of the project will be judged or measured. 

You’ll get into SMART objectives and cognitive, affective and behavioural changes required later in the process. For the moment this is enough.

7. Timescales and budgets

Consultants ask about timescales and budgets in the full knowledge that most clients don’t want to disclose either. It’s frustrating for both sides, but also understandable. In negotiation there is a counter argument that the party that first shares an idea of costs and deadlines has an advantage because they have set the parameters for the rest of the conversation.

I always think it’s worth asking the question from a practical point of view as it helps me consider the most appropriate solution for the client. I don’t always get an answer, but it is worth trying.

If you can think through the answers to these questions before you ask a business transformation consultancy to prepare a proposal, not only will get a more comprehensive response, you’ll also be recognised as a highly professional and well organised client.

This is not to say the consultancy won’t test and revisit these ideas later in the process. And they are likely to change. But communicating a clear idea of what is needed very early in the relationship ensures a rapid and positive start to your project and greatly improves the probability of a successful outcome.

If you’d like to share a business transformation brief with us, simply for comment or a formal response, please email a copy to info@changeassociates.com or call +44 (0)0207 1011 979.

Click this link to find out more about our business transformation consultancy practice.

David Cruise