By Charles Kibigo
Just recently, we concluded two validation workshops seeking to rally invited key stakeholders behind the adoption of an electronic data capture and recording system. The goal of this system is to simplify routine reporting by the Office of the Controller of Budget (OCOB). Allow me to first set the context. Our consulting firm, Expertise Global Consulting Ltd (EGCL) was contracted by UNICEF, to develop this system in what can be considered a critical reform in the Public Finance Management space. Winning the bid meant that a lot was expected of our firm in the delivery of this project and being EGCL, we had to live to our core values in providing our clients with services that are fit for purpose, and fit for context.
Many months before the validation workshop, we conducted a pre-assessment survey in various county governments and government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in order to capture the stakeholders’ expectations of the system. This is a critical aspect of consulting work as it gives us a chance to interact with all the pertinent stakeholders on the ground, build effective communication channels and broker buy in for the project from the start. After all, these are the same users of the system that the consulting firm is developing the system for, and building trust in the key stakeholders vital. Fast forward, comments, inputs and opinions were gathered, ideas incorporated and the validation workshop was the space to separate the wheat from the chaff.
The fact that over fifty or so key stakeholders, comprising of users from both the county and national government – representing 22 counties, 4 Interntional Development Partners and 10 MDAs including the National Treasury all turned up for the validation workshop was encouraging. The two days of each workshop saw the participant guests learn more about what had now been developed into the system. We prepared ourselves for any outcome given this was the first time the stakeholders were interacting with the system. The workshop participants provided various key suggestions and enhancement ideas that would make the system ideal for all users – not just for the OCOB. It is this kind of feedback that ratifies our work and builds our credibility in the industry. Every stakeholder’s expectation was addressed satisfactorily. We were able to instill confidence and trust in the participants to ultimately have a system that addresses the needs of the client. The outcome was beyond our wildest expectations. Given the above context, here are a few recommendations on how to build stakeholders’ buy in any consultancy project.
In the consulting realm, Trust, Credibility and Results are critical for the success of any project undertaken by our team. So high was the buy in, that even though the system is technically owned by the OCOB, all the stakeholders insisted that it be named in an all-encompassing manner that will signal their ownership and involvement in the system development. Building trust with clients goes a long way in enhancing their buy-in into a project. And this is an ongoing process – just like the development of the system itself. Engaging all the stakeholders from the start go and constantly reaching out to them with feedback and opinions shows them that you are mindful of their input and that you value what they have to say. This makes it much simpler for them to buy-in into the process of finding the solution they are seeking in the service provider and enhances the quality of the final product. By incorporating all the stakeholders’ suggestions and ideas into the final product (results), our credibility is enhanced and the stakeholders are able to buy in into the consultant’s ability to deliver on the project. This is what stamps the reputation and credibility of the consultant and helps the stakeholders buy in into their expertise. For firms in the consulting space seeking to enhance their Trust and Credibility from the results of their consultancy work, engaging all the stakeholders from the start go, constantly feeding them back on the progress of their projects and incorporating every single idea from the key stakeholders will do the magic in getting them to buy-in into your consultancy services. Now, that you know, let us all win… Shall we?