Brand and marketing, Business transformation, Innovation and ideation, Insights

The importance of writing an effective consulting brief

About to embark on a critical transformation project? Considering external support from a management consultant? If so, you’re not alone; 84% of UK businesses engage consultants in various forms, and 81% said they had met or exceeded expectations.

However, 39% of projects fail due to poor planning – and over half (57%) of projects fail due to a communication breakdown.

A well-written project brief for a consultant will increase your chances of success.

It provides clarity with internal stakeholders about what you’re trying to achieve and is the lynchpin in ensuring you source the right consultant for your project. It can lead to better, more effective outcomes.

However, writing a brief is often neglected because writing a good one demands time, thought and attention. Longer-term, it is time well-spent and will save time and money.

So, how do you go about it?

We’ll walk you through the process and simplify how to write an effective consulting brief.

how to write a project brief

Why do you need a project brief to hire a consultant?

Briefing consultants during the hiring process creates better outcomes for you and the consultant you choose. A good project brief and statement of work will help you to:

  • Find the right consultant.
  • Clarify your aims and objectives.
  • Reach a consensus among internal stakeholders.

It can improve the accuracy of the quotes and proposals you receive. While a brief needs to include enough information for consultants to provide an accurate response, you don’t need to provide all the answers – the aim is to see how and where a management consultant will add value.

To set yourself apart from other potential clients competing for that expertise, you need to post a concise brief that makes your project sound engaging, exciting and challenging. This is especially true when using a consulting marketplace, where your project brief will play a key role in attracting relevant expertise.

Read our guide on 10 signs your organisation should hire a consultant.

What should you put in a project brief?

A good project brief, or statement of work, provides clarity of direction.

It explains the big picture, sets out the business aims and objectives, why you’re looking for external expertise, what you hope to achieve, and what success looks like.

However, it should also contain enough detail so potential consultants can evaluate whether they can meet your needs.

The starting point for your brief is to define the project, its scope and the budget. Can you summarise the project in a sentence first? Or a couple of paragraphs. Try to be snappy and concise and keep the summary tight, as this will act as the guiding star for the remainder of the brief.

While brief, a scope statement should encapsulate the following:

  • Project boundaries – what’s in and out of scope.
  • Business need – what are the expected outcomes?
  • Impact – business areas that could be impacted.
  • Stakeholders – business partners for the consultant.
  • Budget – how much can you afford to spend?
  • Deadlines – do you have a deadline for completion?

While the project brief details the practicalities, you’re also trying to pique the interest of potential consultants and inspire them to want to work with you.

Include a company background. Where does your organisation sit in the marketplace? What is your customer base? Is this project for an existing client base or a pivot to grow your customer base or reposition you within the sector?

You could also include information about what it will be like to work with you. What are your values and working style? You’re looking to hire a partner, but individual consultants will sit inside your organisation. They’ll want to know it’s somewhere they’ll fit in.

project brief - main image

How Portevo’s marketplace platform can help you to create a statement of work

Portevo uses a simple, interactive wizard that helps you quickly and easily design a comprehensive project brief.

An intelligent approach to compiling a project brief

We use matching technology, which uses algorithmic data science to match consultants and clients. It works by matching over 150 data points we have about our consultants to the schedule of work (SoW) modules that clients select for the engagement.

How the Statement of Work modules helps design a project brief

Consultancy can be a broad field that spans disciplines such as business strategy, digital transformation and customer experience.

Our platform helps you to quickly find the consultant you need by stepping you through an intuitive digital journey. By identifying the kind of challenge or opportunity you are addressing (such as strategy or product development), and what stage you are at (such as discovery or delivery), you are presented with the relevant work modules. These expert-authored proprietary modules distil industry best practices and decades of industry experience into the building blocks of your brief.

Some of the benefits of our modular statement of work include the following:

  • Design your project brief – set the scope, inputs, outputs, and value sought.
  • Remove ambiguity – create a project brief specific to needs.
  • Focussed – a project brief that reflects ‘jobs-to-be-done’.
  • Save time – our platform finds the optimal hard skills and cultural fit to do the job quickly, efficiently, and with transparent, cost-efficient pricing.

While the ‘Lego’ pieces in our statement of work make it easy to design a brief, combining them enables you to define high-value, high-complexity projects efficiently. Once done, leave it to our platform to source and match the best individual or team talent to the job.

Read our guide on the different types of management consultant explained.

How does the bidding process work?

Once you have created your brief and matched it to the available consultants,  the power of the Portevo marketplace is put into action. Drawing from a current, verified base of over 300 consultants, you are assured of finding the best expertise and experience available.

Your request for ‘bid’ responses will automatically arrive in respective consultant inboxes, from where they will prepare and submit back to you competitive proposals for your work. Once received, you can discuss and refine the project with one or more consultants before selecting a preferred bidder and contracting for the work. This is all done digitally, with as much or as little human intervention as you require.

At any point in the journey, you can take advantage of our concierge customer success call. You don’t have to commit to anything, but our expert team will work with you to further explore your needs and match resources.

Use this personalised service on demand whenever you need it during the process.

Read our guide on the different types of management consultant explained.

Embracing the new way to access industry-leading best practices

In an industry that’s remained relatively undisrupted for over 50 years, today’s agendas in many organisations may be better served in a new way. Marketplaces have disrupted many consumer and business sectors and are now set to do likewise in the world of management consulting.

We’ve designed a robust solution that employs ‘Wiki-type’ frameworks of best practice in the statement of work modules and encourages our network of consultants to contribute. Doing so means our service can continuously grow, evolve and remain cutting edge to the latest industry developments.

Find out more about the benefits of consulting.