Guidelines and Resources for the Implementation Phase of Consulting

Sections of this topic

    © Copyright Carter McNamara,


    Much of the content
    of this topic came from this book:
    Consulting and Organization Development - Book Cover

    © Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, Ph.D., Authenticity Consulting, LLC.

    Sections in this Topic Include:

    Strongly Recommended Pre-Reading

    NOTE: There can be very different styles in going through this implementation phase, ranging from a carefully specified and sequential set of activities to an unfolding and nonsequential arrangement. See the very Different Approaches in Consulting. For the sake of being highly informative with clear and well-organized information, this topic will explain a rather orderly, but highly collaborative approach to implementation.

    (This phase is sometimes referred to as the Intervention Phase or Transition Phase.)


    See a video about the implementation phase, including ingredients for change, change management plans, integrating plans into the organization, sustaining client’s and consultant’s momentum, managing resistance, tracking status, and adjusting plans. From the
    Consultants Development Institute.

    At this point in the project, you and your client have worked together in the discovery phase to examine your client’s situation and generate recommendations to address it. During the next phase, the action planning phase, you both developed action plans to implement each recommendation — and each action plan specified various objectives to be accomplished, along with who will be accomplishing them and when. Then you might have integrated the action plans, along with plans for communications, learning, and evaluation into an overall Implementation Plan.

    In this phase, you and your client will work together to effectively implement the Implementation Plan. Although you want to work in a highly collaborative manner with your client, it is ultimately your client who must implement that Plan in the workplace. Your role is to guide and support your client along the way. Organizations, especially small- to medium-sized ones, often have major challenges to overcome when trying to accomplish successful change in their organizations. They face shortages of funds, time, and energy.

    Now is when you must muster all of your skills as a consultant because you will be working to get a lot done, but will be working through others to do it. You might sometimes struggle just to know the status of the implementation of plans. You might need to modify the plans at times and that will be fine as long as you make those changes systematically. It is not unusual in this phase to encounter some resistance to change from your client. If so, then you will need your skills in authenticity and assertiveness to respectfully address it. Other times, you will congratulate them on their accomplishments.

    Goals for This Implementation Phase

    1. Integrate the Implementation Plan and its various associated plans throughout the necessary systems in your client’s organization.
    2. Ensure continued motivation and momentum to implement the plans.
    3. Keep monitoring the status of implementation using the measures of success identified during the action planning.
    4. Continue to show support from top leaders in the organization.
    5. Regularly communicate the status to all relevant stakeholders.

    Managing Change During Implementation

    Reminder, Who is Your Direct Client Now?

    In the contracting phase, we talked about the importance of always knowing who the direct client is now. That is the person or team who has the most influence in helping you now in the project. It can be a different person or team at different times.

    Types of Clients (this helps answer the critical question: “Who is the current client?”)

    Following Best Practices to Support Change

    When this implementation phase is in regard to changing a significant part of an organization, then the guidelines in the following topic should be closely reviewed.
    Guidelines, Methods, and Resources for Organizational Change Agents

    Maintaining Momentum During Change

    See a video about the nature of coaching, when to use the conversations, the nature of useful questions, the role of actions and learning, and defining “successful” coaching.
    From the Consultants
    Development Institute

    This is often the most difficult part of a project for significant change. The consultant and client need to continue to keep meet the Requirements for Successful Organizational Change:

    1. Motivate change – Remind people of the need for change and how it benefits them. Leaders must continue to show strong support for the change. Continue to solicit everyone’s feedback about the change.
    2. Remind them of the vision — They need to see some vision of success, some goal they are working toward. It should be very relevant and realistic.
    3. Cultivate political support – Keep the support of all key power players, for example, senior management, subject matter experts, and others who are recognized as having strong expertise and integrity in the organization.
    4. Manage the transition – Ensure ongoing coaching to leaders and managers about helping their employees deal with challenges, especially stress and time management. Continue to communicate the status to all employees. Be willing to adjust plans as necessary.
    5. Sustain momentum – Communicate accomplishments to everyone. Reward those who lead and excel. Authentically and assertively address resistance, including from the client and the consultant. Integrate new practices into plans, policies, and job descriptions.

    Continual Monitoring and Evaluating Implementation

    There are numerous means to track and evaluate the status of implementation of the action plans (that is, the Implementation Plan), including:

    • Spoken words (conversations with leadership)
    • To-do lists
    • Status reports
    • Staff meetings
    • Chief Executive Officer reports to the Board of Directors (if the organization is a corporation)
    • Planned-versus-actual reports
    • Project reviews

    Basics of Monitoring, Evaluating, and Deviating from Plan (in the context of strategic planning, but applies to change management plans, too)

    Ensuring Ongoing Communication of Status

    One of the most powerful means to ensure the success of organizational change is through ongoing, systematic communication with all stakeholders about the status of the change activities. Communication reduces people’s resistance to change. It maintains its focus on the vision and actions for change. It shows them that the top leaders continue to support the change effort. Ultimately, it helps to maintain the motivation, vision, political support, and momentum to accomplish successful change.

    Unless your client has a large organization, you need not have an extensive and detailed Communications Plan. The Plan should identify what messages need to be conveyed to which specific groups of stakeholders, along with how, who, and when.

    Adjusting Plans, If Needed

    Plans are rarely implemented as designed. That is not a problem – it is acceptable to adjust plans. The plan is only a guideline – not a strict roadmap, which must be followed exactly as specified when first written. Plans must be flexible. Changes can be done systematically, including to:

    1. Recognize the need for a deviation from the plan.
    2. Understand the reason for the deviation.
    3. Decide what the change should be.
    4. Communicate the need for the change to the plan and what the change should be (before making the change to the plan).
    5. Obtain approval to make the change.
    6. Make the change to the plan.
    7. Update the version of the plan, for example, changing the date on each of the pages and adding commentary that explained the change.
    8. Track the status of the plan.

    If the Project Gets Stuck

    Projects can get stuck for a variety of reasons, for example, if the overall situation changes, people succumb to burnout, key people leave the organization, the relationship between the consultant and client changes, or people refuse to implement action plans. If the implementation of the plans gets stalled, then you might cycle back to an earlier phase in the consulting in order to update and restart the change management project.

    Also, See These Closely Related Topics

    Additional Library Resources in the Category of Organizational Change and Development