So you’ve made the decision to engage us to undertake a particular assignment within your organisation. Your reasons for engaging one of our consultant(s) to perform the assignment could be due a lack of internal personnel resources to undertake the required tasks, or your area lacks the required skillsets to perform the required tasks, or a combination of both. Whatever your reasons, you want to make sure that in engaging a consultant for the assignment, that the assignment will be completed in an agreed timeframe, with specified deliverables to a defined quality, and overall achieved within the funding that has been sourced and allocated to the assignment.

In to achieve these goals, our consultants don’t work in a vacuum and need to interact with you and other stakeholders in your organisation, perhaps even with external stakeholders, to obtain the necessary data and other resources to complete the task. As a result, our consultants can face (and have faced) a number of obstacles on site that can make completing the assignment difficult in terms of time, completeness and quality. Hence the following tips are offered to make the most from your consultant’s time to achieve the desired assignment outcomes. After all, time is money.

Before the consultant arrives on site:

  1. Advise the organisation about the assignment. Provide a summary on what the objectives of the assignment are, when the assignment is estimated to start (and end if a required deadline needs to be achieved), who will need to be involved and who will this benefit and the end. Reinforce the importance of the assignment, management’s commitment to the assignment, and the need for all levels of the organisation to be involved, with resources committed, as required.
  2. Make sure the key assignment stakeholders know that they are key assignment stakeholders and will need to make themselves available to the consultant at specified agreed times. Make sure that they are actual available during the period of the assignment, eg. not on extended leave. A key stakeholder who is absent for a critical portion of the assignment can often affect its outcome.
  3. Confirm that any data (manuals, drawings, failure data etc) that will be required for the consultant to undertake the assignment actually exists and is known where it is stored in, or effectively gathered into, a specified location(s), electronically and/or physically. Doing this will avoid wasting a consultant’s limited time in searching and gathering data when on site.

When on site:

  1. Attendance of key stakeholders and other personnel at scheduled meetings can impact upon the outcomes of the assignment. Management commitment and support to have personnel attend these meetings, ie. released from their normal daily tasks, is vital. Consequently if a meeting is scheduled, ensure that the required key stakeholders and other personnel actually attend the meeting.
  2. If a MS Outlook meeting invitation has been sent out and someone cannot attend, encourage stakeholders to use of the Decline button function to help the consultant know well in advance of who will be attending the meeting. That way an early decision can be made by the consultant regarding whether the meeting should proceed or whether it should be rescheduled to a more suitable time. It also avoids wasting the consultant’s and your staff’s time in waiting for people to arrive for a meeting which then may not proceed (due to numbers).      
  3. In the case where an individual may be representing a larger group at a meeting, eg. a fitter, make sure that the right personnel have been selected to attend the required meetings.
  4. A drawing or text description on a piece of equipment can only tell so much. Walking the site and visually inspecting the equipment will provide the consultant with a greater understanding and perspective of the equipment in its operating environment. It also allows for any configuration differences between the documentation and physical installation to be discovered along with the opportunity for photos to be taken for potential use in any documentation required to be produced. It is therefore important where possible to allow unescorted access, that any induction training be booked/pre-arranged for our consultants to undertake during their first days on site. If this is not possible, then management commitment and support to provide escort personnel, ie. released from their normal daily task, is important.
  5. Often draft versions of documentation will be produced during the assignment to allow stakeholders the opportunity to review and provide comment. This review is important in ensuring that the end user has buy in/sense of ownership of the end product. Any feedback received can therefore be incorporated into a final version for delivery. It is therefore important that stakeholders are aware of and committed to, with management support, the provision of time and resources to undertaken draft reviews in a timely manner.

Our consultants will work with you, when setting up a new assignment, to make sure these items are addressed.  However, implementing these simple administrative tips before and during the assignment will greatly assist us in the production of quality, complete, timely deliverables to achieve the desired assignment outcomes.

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