The term ‘’multitasking’’ refers to the assignment of several different tasks to the same person, but in practice was largely utilized to the effort placed for serving simultaneously these tasks. Although it was, initially, introduced for the job description of employees, it later became a common practice in various types of managerial or implementation duties. It is also regarded as an opportunity for synergy work during consulting, but becomes frequently a problem.
Whenever a potential project is considered in a preliminary discussion (i.e. in a pre-agreement phase) it is useful and often suggested to include side issues and tasks related to the core concept. Having in scope the involvement of a consultant in the basic task, it will be an opportunity to exploit his/her presence and experience in handling issues that are (or will be) related to our major concern. It is also to the interest of the consultant if he can obtain raw information in advance, so that he can embed them in his overall work.
On the other hand, the idea of a post-agreement assignment (i.e. the adding of additional tasks after the agreement) might bring about problems that create delays, confusion and conflicts, while sometimes we have seen results of quality inferior than the expected. Aiming in assisting our potential clients to make the most out of a consulting service, we have prepared a list of suggestions concerning the issue of multitasking.
1. Every consulting project can be seen as a military operation with an objective goal (i.e. the main task). The achievement of the goal requires an amount of troops (i.e. resources) allocated to the assigned task. If we start adding supplementary tasks before the ‘’kick-off’’ meeting, we should classify them according to their importance and priority. Supplementary tasks should not jeopardize our main objective, nor should we place them at the same level of importance (or they wouldn’t be supplementary but primary ones).
2. If a task appears to be very important and equally evaluated to the initial one, do not treat it as supplementary. Ask your consultant to consider it another goal and make his suggestion for inclusion to the project.
3. The opportunity of adding supplementary tasks should not be exaggerated. Too many tasks equally treated will result in delays of the entire project, while a tight schedule will result in mistreated tasks
4. Supplementary tasks should not be irrelevant to our main goal. A trade promotion campaign, for instance, cannot be included as a supplementary task within a project for strategic market analysis. It is part of a minor tactics plan which has nothing to do with the core project. If you still want to receive some results for this issue, your consultant would probably accept the challenge but will handle it after having completed and delivered the basic assignment.
5. Sometimes clients are thinking about details of their project and place them as supplementary tasks. It is suggested to have an open discussion with your consultant because, in most cases, they will deal with details either you mention it or not, so there is no need to focus on the trees and neglect the forest.
6. In some cases, clients tend to add supplementary tasks after having agreed and assigned the main project, because they believe that this is a viable method to obtain a better price for the service rendered. Our advice is to avoid such additions and make things mutually easier. Describe in advance your supplementary tasks and discuss with your consultant ways of adding them to the overall project. Really minor and viable requirements could be easily introduced with zero cost or as a form of discounting. On the other hand, if the request is indeed related to the project but has some additional cost, he will be able to prepare an attractive quote for his additional work.
As a closing note, you should bear in mind that a professional consultant aims in improving your financial results and under this scope he will definitely do his best to make his own services the first improvement you are about to receive.