Consulting Lessons Learned 14: Confirm important input in writing

As a consultant, you will regularly have to work with input from your client or other experts. You often receive this input verbally during joint meetings or phone calls.

The problem is: Especially in these cases, using this input can cause mistakes. Either because your interpretation is incorrect or your counterpart didn’t use the required precision in his or her statements.

Let me give you an example: For a business case calculation you ask for the average direct FTE cost during a client meeting. Your client tells you 50k€, but 2 months later when the board challenges your calculation and stumbles across this number, you won’t have any proof where this number came from. You will be made responsible for this mistake, even if your client gave you a wrong information.

The lessons learned here is easy: Whenever you receive an important piece of information verbally, make sure to confirm it in writing!

Generally, you can do this two ways:

First: Send your counterpart a quick email after the meeting with an outline of your understanding of the specific piece of information and ask for final confirmation

Second: Send meeting minutes after the meeting, incl. the important piece of info. This approach is more elegant, as it’s rather indirect and your counterpart won’t be required to approve.

Categories: Best practices