Technical Assessments

A technical assessment is absolutely classic consultant work. This, I know how to do.

First, I meet with contributors, stakeholders, and customers. This is best accomplished with a couple of blocks of onsite time. Next, I do research, which includes follow-up conversations, fact-finding, and comparisons with similar situations in other companies. All of this leads to a report that synthesizes what I heard, and puts it in the context of my years of experience. These reports always focus on specific, actionable recommendations. My thinking is that if somebody pays me to answer a question – I should provide a clear answer.

My practice usually includes a few iterations on the report that close the gap between presenting results and having those results understood. The goal of hiring a consultant is never, actually, just to receive the report. Rather, the consultant and their report are tools that drive decisions and create change. These edits and iterations give a chance for us to turn the report into a living document that is part of the cultural conversation. Sometimes I get to present my findings to leadership and other stakeholders. Other times, I take a back seat and support my customer / partners as they do the presenting. On one memorable occasion, a company engaged me to return after a year to evaluate their progress against my recommendations. It all depends on what will be most effective.

Assessments have been the bread and butter of my consulting practice since 2004. I’ve done so many that I can frequently scope them under a fixed fee rather than my usual time and materials arrangement. A typical assessment takes about a week of work, which is spread out across perhaps a month of calendar time to allow for scheduling meetings and reports. Larger assessments, for universities or pharmaceutical companies, can take longer – stretching out to multiple months. The largest assessment that I’ve done was an analysis of blockchain technologies for NASA’s earth science technology office. That one took six months and required extensive travel, including visits to the Pentagon and to the Goddard Space Flight Labs.

Whether it’s advice on a particular technology decision, a recommendation about how to structure a team, or context on how an emerging technology might apply to you, I enjoy doing assessments and I’m happy to help.