I find that the typical consulting project is much like an academic research project. I suspect this is the biggest reason I enjoy this work. First, you start with a very big, somewhat undefined question, and gradually pick away at it, crafting a story along the way. Second, when you’re working with a particular client, the challenge you’re trying to solve tends to push everything else out and your field-of-view shrinks to include your particular project challenge.
Over the last few weeks, my colleagues and I have spent our time reviewing an array of documents about my client’s current challenge, reducing paper use. The information we’ve reviewed has come directly from the client, external industry research providers, as well as our own on-line investigation. During the process, we’ve documented some of the steps our client has taken to reduce its paper use, as well as what the client is planning to do over the next 2-3 years. We’ve compared their current performance and plans for improvement against, what we believe to be, industry best practice, and we’ve assessed the gap between the current state and best practice to identify opportunities for improvement.
The majority of today was spent discussing those opportunities with multiple groups of project stakeholders….individuals and project teams that will play a significant role in implementing future projects. In over 4+ hours of meetings with different groups from the client’s organization, we discuss, in some detail, the pros and cons of each potential opportunity, identify outstanding questions that need to be answered before making a final go/no-go decision, and develop a project plan for the remaining five weeks of the project, which will be focused on building a strategic roadmap for implementing the highest priority opportunities. Those meetings are followed by another two hours of follow-up calls with project advisors from across Accenture to ensure we captured all of the relevant information and gain consensus on what we, as a project team, believe should be our primary area of focus.
It’s fun stuff, if for no other reason than with each successive project meeting, you learn a little bit more about the client organization and the people with whom you’re working. But, you also get a sense of the broader industry, what’s driving companies in the industry to consider and implement projects that address similar challenges. And, like any good research project, each answer leads you to two or three (at the very least) additional questions that can help you get to the next chapter in the story.
Tomorrow, the tasks turn to assessing the size (monetary value) of these opportunities and prioritizing the list of things we generated in today’s sessions.
The evening concludes with a quick meal in the hotel, followed by emails and the New York Rangers’ pursuit of the Stanley Cup.