5 MBA Consulting Project Success Tips

Last week, I mentioned my interest in CSUF’s MBA capstone course.  I’ve been looking forward to the course since I attended the MBA information session.  The capstone course (taken in one’s final semester) centers around a student consultant project.  Local Orange County businesses hire students through CSUF as business consultants, who then help tackle problems and develop new strategies for these companies.  Since I work in the public sector, I feel the capstone would provide an excellent opportunity to practice all my newly acquired MBA skills.  Luckily for me, I get to experience the consulting project ahead of schedule; each of my courses this semester requires one.

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I have been assigned to groups in each class and know which clients the groups will be working for.  This past Saturday, my Marketing Management group met with our client and needless to say I thought it was an overwhelming experience.  We met for 3 hours, learning about our client’s challenges.  In particular, the company has numerous marketing channels they use to communicate with their customers.  They want us to determine which of these channels most effectively attract customers, and then develop a marketing plan to entice more customers to their business.

It was particularly overwhelming learning as much information as we could about the client.  We absorbed details about their operations, toured their site, met with staff, and discussed their vision for our project.  After going through that initial meeting, I walked away with 5 tips that will be valuable for future consulting projects.

Get everyone’s phone number.  And email and any additional contact information.  This probably seems obvious, and it should be the first thing a project group leader does after the group is created.  But having everyone’s contact information is immensely helpful for staying in communication with everyone.  As the group leader for this consulting project, I made sure to ask for everyone’s current work situation and their undergraduate and MBA degree specializations.  My hope is those pieces of information will help us down the road when dividing up responsibilities and coordinating meeting times.

Share documents in the cloud.  Immediately after forming our group, I created a group Google account and distributed the log-in information to everyone.  I’ve used Google Drive in the past, and it’s been amazingly helpful for coordinating project edits and sharing documents.  I upload important information there, and it helps us cut down on lengthy email chains that can grow to ridiculous lengths.  Dropbox is another great tool groups can use to help manage their numerous project documents.

Set up meeting schedules.  In my 10-person group, more than half the participants work full-time.  That makes meeting scheduling a challenging task.  Group leaders should find a time soon after forming the group to decide when everyone can meet, and whether it’s easier to meet in-person or online.  Services like Skype make meeting over the internet free and simple.  Our group is planning on meeting for 30-45 minutes before each weekly class session, in order to touch base and find out how each member is doing with their assigned responsibilities.

Remember you ABC’s.  In this case, ABC stands for “Always Be Communicating.”  I made sure to start calling our client immediately after forming the group, and I contacted our assigned coach as well to begin brainstorming with him.  Communicating early and often helps with scheduling that initial meeting, and my talks with our coach help me think through the next steps I need to take as project leader.

Check out other groups’ projects.  Mihaylo’s Center for Entrepreneurship allows consulting students to visit its office and look through previous projects.  I visited the office this past Monday, and was able to get a better feel for exactly what will be expected for our final presentation.  I recommended our group members visit the Center and check out the samples as well.  Hopefully that will help get everyone on the same page when we meet to discuss the project in the future, and each member will better understand what’s expected of him or her for our final product.

I know these tips will be immensely helpful in my other course this semester, and our group has already started implementing these strategies for that project.  I know I will continue to refine these tips as our groups progress with the projects, and I will share additional insights and developments as the semester marches on.

Have you participated in a similar MBA client project?  What tips or strategies did you find most useful when working on your project?  Share your thoughts in the Comments section below or tweet me @orangecountymba.  I look forward to hearing from you!

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2 Responses to “5 MBA Consulting Project Success Tips”


  1. 1 Dave October 6, 2012 at 1:57 am

    Great tips. I’m just starting my Capstone at CSUF, and the client assignment involves all elements of the MBA program – Finance, Operations, Organizational Behavior, IT, etc. It is primarily at the Strategic level, so expect to do a full analysis of the client internally as well as the competitive environment externally.

    I would add another tip to working as a team on Capstone and other consulting projects: try to avoid the “divide and conquer” approach where each team member handles one portion of the project. I’ve seen a lot of projects that show little cohesion and the story doesn’t “flow”. Even worse, I’ve seen a few presentations and papers where two team members directly contradict each other with recommendations! I think it’s important that each member understands each area of the project enough to stand and defend it because ultimately you have to sell the whole package.

    Keep up the great blog!

    • 2 orangecountymba October 9, 2012 at 2:53 am

      Thanks for the advice, Dave! It’s nice getting a fellow student’s perspective on these student consulting projects. That tip about dividing up the project is one I find especially important. Since I’m the group leader of one of my group projects, I’m well aware that my role involves group logistics, communication with group members, and ensuring the final product/presentation is coherent and all the information ties together. For our project, I’m trying to secure an outside student editor who can serve as an extra pair of eyes for reviewing the project. And I know I need to ensure everyone’s contributions to the project tie together in the final product and create a complete product we can submit that’s centered around the recommendations we make to our client. Since this is my first time ever managing a project like this (either in the classroom or professionally), I want to absorb any advice that helps me be the best project leader I can be.


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