Our Contracting Process
We’ve found expectation management is an important part of building trust between us and our clients. Knowing how we work before we even start working together is key to ensuring there are no surprises along the way and we’re able to be collaborators in the process of achieving our project goals.
Over the past 9 years, we’ve developed a pattern of client engagement that’s worked well. In the following post, I want to outline this process for clarity that builds understanding and trust.
Getting to Know the Client
It starts with a series of informal conversations about the work to be done, whether it’s a learning experience, an analytics project, or facilitated strategy conversations. We want to understand your challenges and your ultimate goal, as well as the important context about your people, your processes, and your organizational culture.
From these conversations, we develop a statement of work that becomes the foundation of our working agreement. This proposal document is intentionally designed as an outline, marking key milestones, activities, and deliverables, but leaving the form and content open. We do this because often these engagements are a discovery process as we learn more about the challenges and creatively design solutions to whatever those challenges are.
We then kick off the project with a meeting to ensure alignment around our goals, by defining what success looks like for this project. We also discuss what “less than success” looks like. In these conversations we’re trying to achieve the good (our ultimate goal) by managing the not so good (the “less than success” possibilities). It helps put some guardrails on the work while emphasizing the overall intention. Having this as the guiding purpose is essential to ensure that our actions remain aligned with the ultimate outcome we’re trying to achieve.
Staying aligned often means weekly check-ins with the client, even if they’re just short conversations. We share an agenda document at the beginning of the engagement for both our team and the client to flag issues for discussion, as well as shared work in progress for feedback. These are invaluable for letting everyone know what’s happening with the project and ensure there aren’t any surprises.
This is done by ensuring each deliverable is shared in draft form as soon as possible for feedback before being finalized and delivered. This ensures something isn’t delivered that misses the mark or contains surprises for the client, who often have other people they are responsible for. Helping the client meet their obligations is part of our obligation to them and one we take it seriously.
Closing Out the Project
We never close a project without doing some retrospective of the work. This is an opportunity for all of us to identify key lessons and hopefully learn from the experience of working together. We present the final report, document the final outcomes, present survey result or other metrics, and help bring the engagement to a close ensuring questions have been answered and concerns have been addressed. We want to make sure the work is understood and well documented. This helps close out the project positively and set the conditions for a continuing relationship well after we’ve sent the final invoice.
I hope this post is helpful whether you’re a potential client or just a curious fellow entrepreneur. I’m always happy to discuss our work with anyone who’s interested. Feel free to reach out on LinkedIn or email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.