How to Set Expectations as a Consultant

expectation management for consultants

As a consultant, you may feel like you are constantly being pulled in different directions. You manage multiple clients, work on different projects, and also try your best to document all your actions. In addition, your time as a consultant is of the utmost value, because you probably bill clients on hours spent working on their projects.

Therefore, setting expectations for any client engagement early on is essential. If you fail to set clear expectations, a multitude of problems could arise. You may end up wasting your time working on something that a client ultimately does not need. Or, worse, you could be under-delivering without realizing it.

To ensure that everyone is on the same page, use these tips for setting expectations and project scope:

1. Set guidelines early on. The period of time before you start working on a client engagement is arguably the most crucial. To set yourself up for success, be sure to spend an ample amount of time fully immersing yourself in your client’s day-to-day problems. Although a client may have identified a specific pain point, you may be able to spot some unseen related issues that contribute to the overall problem. Include a plan to tackle these issues in your Scope of Work and ensure that your client understands how much time and resources you will need.

2. Develop a strong relationship and open line of communication with your client.

As a consultant, developing personal client relationships will often pay off in the end. Once you do create these relationships, you’ll be able to rely on your easy rapport to communicate more freely about your clients’ wants and needs. Then you can adjust budget and resources on the fly without causing tension.

3. Schedule several check-ins throughout your engagement.

Keep your clients in the loop throughout the duration of your relationship. Let them know about any obstacles that you foresee getting in your way or any time frames that may need adjusting. If you allow for open communication and set expectations early, any curveballs will be easy to handle during these regular check-ins.

Although it’s impossible to create a foolproof plan, follow these steps to set up both your agency and your clients for long-term, sustainable results.

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