Nexpert X- How to complete external projects and independent engagements successfully

Tips for Businesses and Professionals

When Businesses engage Professionals from outside their organisation for consulting or project work, it provides them with opportunities to collaborate and work together to achieve business outcomes.

With the current environment, Business leaders and Professionals are required to work autonomously and participate remotely, which can lead to difficulties across areas such as communication, transparency, and delivery, which can impact project timelines.

So how do you best manage external projects and independent engagements in today’s environment?

Follow these proven tips to be successful-

Tip 1– Define the work through a contract and agreement
Where regular employment involves contracts and job descriptions, businesses and professionals offering expertise, work through a documented scope of work (SOW) and a service agreement.

Ensure you both have this signed off and have a formal contract and agreement understanding of the required work and the timeframes for it to be achieved in has been established.

This protects both parties and also ensures expectations are fulfilled based on a formal agreement.

Tip 2- Set your expectations
Firstly, you will need to recognise that you may be working with someone new and will need to spend more time with each other at the start of the engagement to establish alignment.

Further you will need to be clear on what results are expected and understand what support will be required to deliver them.

These expectations need to be specific on the outcomes and ensure that they are relative to the budget, so both parties can manage expectations throughout the process.

Tip 3- Get to know each other
Whilst not having a typical employer-employee relationship, independent engagements are important for both parties with equal motivation to succeed.

Get to know each other and how you both operate, even across a few areas to build rapport and a connection.

Find out if you both start your day with a coffee, what each other enjoys out of work, who you both follow in the footy or discuss what other projects you’re both working on.

Have a friendly chat and get to know the person you are working with.

Tip 4– Get on the same page
Discuss the project outcomes and check for any discrepancies so from day one it is clear what the goals.

Agree when to communicate and what methods to use. E.g. Phone call vs. email, status update vs issue resolution, etc.

Knowing the best way to get in touch and discuss urgent roadblocks will not only maintain project timelines but also make efficient use of everyone’s time.

If there are multiple project stakeholders, communicate a notification to officially announce the project, its objectives, introduce external contractors (with a brief summary about them) and the support needed.

This will ensure alignment from the start and prevent any concerns further down the path.

Tip 5–Schedule regular check-in and alignment meetings
It’s important that nothing slips through the cracks, having a recurring check-in or work in progress (WIP) meeting in-person, on the phone or on video, allows for efficient communication and briefing.

Set agendas for these meetings with action points, status updates, and items to be briefed.

After the meeting is completed, ensure there is a nominated person that circulates the meeting notes to all involved parties.

Tip 6- Use remote collaborative programs to document and share communications
Take advantage of what modern technology allows in the form of transparency and collaboration. Use online programs that allow for group sharing, live edits, and instant feedback.

Some commonly used collaboration programs are-
– Google Drive
– Office 365
– Microsoft Teams
– Dropbox
– Slack
– Asana
– Trello
– Flowdock
– Flock

Tip 7- Practice professional etiquette
Do not impose your individual viewpoints and methods, be considerate of the other’s circumstances and maintain professional etiquette in how you conduct throughout the project.

Tip 8- Smile and say Thank you
At the end of the project, each party expects to be paid or charged fairly on work completed based on the work expectations set out.

Use this as an opportunity to build relationships and establish good rapport.

If the professional that offered your business expertise did a better job than expected, pay them more OR if the work you completed for the businesses took less time and cost less than budgeted, charge them less.

Smile and say Thank you.

Final word – Think about the next steps
The outcomes of the work and the affiliation you build with each other could mean numerous things for both of you. It could mean positive word of mouth, referral of new clients, recommendations for other professionals or businesses, networking opportunities or even the possibility of working together on a permanent basis.

And most importantly, it gives both of you the assurance that if the same project comes up again, you have built a relationship where you both know what to expect and how to best work together.

Want to discuss a specific business problem or new opportunity? Contact us by emailing us on [email protected]