We recommend that consultants maintain a list of all the projects they have ever done. Here we share a resource of Project List Tips & Templates to help independent consultants get started or improve their project list.
A project list is a valuable tool that will help you pull relevant examples when a potential client asks you to share your experience.
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Benefits of keeping an ongoing project list
There are a number of important benefits that maintaining a complete, running project list gives a consultant.
- You are able to quickly pull bullet points when client or staffing firm asks for relevant experience.
- You can provide the entire list to clients who want to see the whole of your experience.
- It gives you a valuable business development tool, acting as a helpful reminder of past clients and teammates to reach out to.
When you come across people who might be potential clients, but you are not yet sure of their exact needs, you can provide them with your full project list so they can see the entire scope of your experience. When the document is well-organized, a prospect can easily glance through to the sections most relevant to their needs and see the type of work you’ve done and results you’ve achieved.
For a specific project opportunity, you can customize your project list for the potential client’s exact needs, cutting out anything that isn’t relevant. Aim to keep this document four to six pages long, and organize it by listing the most relevant projects first.
To create your project list, there are a few options to keep in mind:
- Will it be sanitized or unsanitized?
- What format will you use? The typical choices are Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, or Google Docs or Sheets.
- What fields to include.
Some consultants maintain an unsanitized project list that includes details on clients. Others maintain only a sanitized project list that does not include client details. For example, referring to a client as “a top ten global pharmaco” instead of Pfizer.
Consultants also vary in the level of detail they include in their project list. Some include just enough to jog their memory, while others lay out more detail about each project.
A fairly exhaustive project list would include these fields:
- Project start date
- Functional area
- Name of client company
- Name of the key client executive
- Names of other clients involved in project
- My employer at the time of the project
- Context of the project
- Project objective
- What did the team do
- What did I do
- Team members
- Do I have a written recommendation from this project?
- Do I have a sanitized deliverable from this project?
Project List Tips Case Study: How Jay Martin uses a project list
Jay Martin has done an exemplary job of maintaining an exhaustive list of all his projects. With more than 25 years of management consulting experience (including 18 years as an independent consultant), his project list document is 18 pages long and includes details on well over 100 projects.
In Episode 140 of our Unleashed podcast, Martin discussed his process with Umbrex Managing Partner Will Bachman.
“One of the major uses of it is as a repository for everything I’ve done,” Martin said. “Over the years, I’ve worked for more than 100 companies in seven countries on four continents. As you get older, you begin to forget all of the things you’ve done, and the bio serves as an excellent repository to keep track of everything that I’ve done.”
“Within 15 to 20 minutes, I can send the person who’s requesting it a perfectly tailored bio to what they’re looking for to best present my qualifications for whatever assignment they have,” Martin said.
Maintaining the project list
Every year or so, Martin reviews his project list document and adds every new client and project he’s completed since the previous review. That process can be time-consuming, but it only needs to be done annually or even every two years.
“The great thing is, once the work is done, you have access to that, you don’t have to rewrite it,” he said. “For [independent consultants], keeping track of all the different little projects and clients is hard — but once you sit down in the beginning and put it all in a single document, and get your arms wrapped around it, you have the access to that for the rest of your career.”
Martin’s motivation to continue updating and using his Project List document is simple: it gets him business.
“The client gets my three or four page bio and they think, ‘Jay Martin’s the guy’.”
Not only is his Project List a powerful tool for customizing to each potential client’s needs to convince them that he’s the guy, it also builds his reputation as an experienced, prepared, and detailed professional.
“People know if they reach out to me, I’m going to get them something perfectly or close to perfectly tailored within an hour,” he said. “It never takes me more than an hour. One, from a business development efficiency standpoint, it’s an excellent tool to use; and two, from a credibility and selling standpoint, it very much allows you to present yourself on the best foot with respect to the most relevant things — both from a functional standpoint and other things you think the client might be impressed with.”
Project List Tips & Templates
- Jay Martin’s Management Consulting Bio and Project List: Download it here.
- How to do a consulting case study: A useful overview from Jay Martin of how to create consulting case studies. Download it here.
- An Excel project list template: Download it here.
- A Google Sheets project list template: Access it here, and select “File > Make a copy” or “Download > Microsoft Excel.”
Examples of member project lists
Flavio Arbex presents his projects by client, giving dates and bullet-point lists of the main service components he provided:
Laura Robotti maintains a client-ready Word version of her project list that includes a list of her industry and functional experience:
Marie-Pierre Schickel outlines her example projects by brand, and the results she produced for each project:
Amanda Setili gives examples of the projects she’s done for several clients, accompanied by a testimonial:
Angela Thompson lists example projects in a clean bulleted list:
Laurenz Lenkewitz offers a geographical map showing his range of work, with clients and the project he completed for each one:
Cristián Saracco lists his projects by client brands:
Steve Tomlinson maintains a project list in Word that he does not typically send to clients, but can copy and paste examples in to a project bid: