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Sample Consulting Proposal

August 3, 2001
Related Topics: Outsourcing, Featured Article
Below is a sample of a proposal for consulting work that was used by a $1.3 billion company in the early 1990s.

To: Samuel F. Jones, Chief Financial Officer, The Concept Corporation

From: Arthur M. Freedman, QUANTUM Associates

Proposal: Factors Contributing to Dissatisfaction and Low Morale

Provisional Statement of the Current State:

The members of the Finance Department's senior management team (SMT) are concerned about the low morale of its approximately seventy members. The SMT believes that this is caused in part by the interactions the members have with members of the department's clients -- the major subsystems of the corporation. The SMT believes the Finance Department is held in low esteem by the rest of the corporation and that the CFO is not granted appropriate recognition in establishing corporate goals and policy.

As a result, Finance Department members are treated with disrespect and feel they are unable to optimize their potential contributions to their corporation, department, division, team, and their own careers.

Goals of the Consultation:

  1. Validate and specify the primary indications and root causes of low morale and dissatisfaction within the department.

  2. Demonstrate that the CFO and the SMT are firmly committed to take viable actions to correct unacceptable conditions with the department and between the department and the rest of the corporation.

Phase One: Announcement

Meet with CFO to do the following:

  1. Confirm (or modify) this proposed plan;

  2. Determine what will be said in the CFO's announcement of his intention to move forward with this effort. This announcement should include:

    1. Indicators of dissatisfaction with current conditions in the Finance Department;

    2. The need to identify the root causes; and

    3. The CFO's commitment to take both corrective and preventive actions by either changing conditions or enabling department members to adapt and adjust to changing conditions.

Estimated Costs:

Two hours, plus expenses.

Phase Two: Organizational Diagnosis

Establish and distribute composition and schedules for ten focus group sessions.


  1. In each focus group, Finance Department members conduct self-assessments of factors that contribute to dissatisfaction and also establish the ten high-priority factors.

  2. Members identify the root causes of the ten highest priority factors.

  3. Each focus group selects one (or two) representatives for Phase Three.


  1. Form ten focus groups to include all Finance Department members (one group for senior management team; seven accounting groups with seven or eight members, maximum; mix by function and level, one group each for tax and finance with seven members each).

  2. Conduct ten focus group interviews (two hours each, fifteen-minute breaks, three per day).

  3. Identify factors that contribute to current dissatisfaction; members identify and organize issues into factor clusters (self-assessments).

  4. Establish priorities among factor clusters; identify the five highest priorities.

  5. Present "root cause analysis" format.

  6. Identify root causes for each of the five high-priority factors.

  7. Prepare self-assessments for Phase Three.


  1. Completed self-assessments from each of the ten focus groups.

  2. One (or two) members from each focus group prepared to represent their groups.

Estimated Costs:

Three and one-half days, plus expenses.

Phase Three: Data Organization and Preparation


Representatives from each focus group form a single team and do the following:

  1. Integrate the ten sets of data; and

  2. Prepare for feedback session to CFO and directors.


Management team chooses from three alternatives:

  1. In private.

  2. With validation by a second set of representatives from each focus group.

  3. In a "fishbowl" with all other finance members invited to observe and provide input through an "empty chair."


  1. Format and process for data feedback meetings are selected.

  2. Root cause analysis of the current state is completed.

  3. Recommendations for corrective and preventive actions are developed.

Estimated Costs:

Two days, plus expenses.

Phase four: Data Feedback Meeting


  1. Feedback of results (prioritized issues and recommendations) to CFO and directors by team of representatives.

  2. Develop criteria for determining priorities (for example, members' personal concerns, degree of control over the issue, costs incurred to make the change, time to make change, visibility of the effort, and /or alternatives and additions from management team).

  3. Establish priorities among the issues.


Management team chooses from two alternatives:

  1. Focus group representatives interface with CFO and directors.

  2. "All hands on deck" meeting.


  1. Prioritized issues are accepted by most involved parties.

  2. Proposals or commitments for "next steps" are determined.

Estimated Costs:

One day, plus expenses.

Reprinted with permission from Finding Your Way in the Consulting Jungle, by Arthur M. Freedman and Richard E. Zackrison, Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer, 2001.

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