Executives should ask this question every day. Even when you’re drowning in emails, meetings and reports, it pays to stop and ask this question, because it might save you time and stress in the long run. Improving the user experience of a product, service or website, by making it more intuitive and documenting it clearly, will reduce demand for customer support and lead to more sales. Streamlining processes and training staff wlll boost productivity. Just learning a few new commands or keyboard shortcuts in Word, Excel or Photoshop can save hours in a day.
It is surprising how much time we spend doing pointless activities, out of habit, laziness, compulsion, or misguided belief. How much market research and web traffic analysis is carried out purely for its own sake? How many reports lie unopened or unread? How many meetings conclude with just one action point: to hold another meeting? I can help you identify unproductive activities and thereby free up time for tasks that will make a difference.
It may seem odd advice, but it’s the mark of successful businesses (and people) to be able to respond positively to a setback. Ploughing on regardless and hoping for the best is risky: if things don’t come right in the short term, a business can quickly become overwhelmed by cash flow difficulties, legal disputes, or evaporating morale. Whether it’s drawing up a disaster plan or reacting to early warning signs of a problem, I can provide the objectivity needed to imagine, discuss and document effective responses.
The old cliché about ‘thinking outside the box’ is one of the most valuable contributions a consultant can make. Injecting ideas from outside the company or industry can reveal new solutions to seemingly intractable problems. Or it can confirm that a difficult or costly action must be taken because no easier alternative exists.
Often it is not lack of ideas that holds back progress, but the absence of anyone to digest and evaluate the ideas already floating around. Customer service departments are a treasure trove of good (and bad) ideas. Staff often have useful suggestions, but internal politics can be a barrier to their expression or implementation. I can gather these ideas together, discuss them with staff (in confidence when appropriate), and present a set of prioritised and, if required, costed recommendations to management.
Planning a new or replacement website requires an understanding of a wide range of technologies, skills and business processes. This is where an experienced consultant can save you time, money and mistakes, by translating your business requirements into a clear, modular specification for research, recruitment or outsourcing. I can also provide and configure suitable web hosting.
Day rates start from £320 and depend on the complexity and market value of the work involved. For most projects I will quote a maximum fee, minimising your financial risk. In certain cases payment may be accepted in the form of royalties or equity.
Incremental change is quicker to deliver, less risky, and usually more effective than revolutionary change.
Satisfy users better and they will turn from being the bain of your customer services staff to loyal advocates of your company.
Prioritise eliminating user frustrations: you will keep and win more customers than by adding new features.
Keep meeting agendas short and focused on one of three objectives:
1. Sharing information
2. Making decisions
3. Generating ideas
Don’t ask a question until you have a plan for how to respond to the ‘wrong’ answer.
Engaging a consultant can give a project the impetus needed to get it started, and the critical input needed to ensure it heads off in the right direction.