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A guide for successful client assessments and discoveries (part 2) - delivery

A guide for successful client assessments and discoveries (part 2) - delivery

Part one of this two-part blog series covered the people aspects essential to successful engagements, especially client assessments and discoveries. We continue the series by covering delivery aspects that contribute to successful day-to-day client engagements.

Delivery aspects


Remote communication hygiene

Sticking to scope

Consistency in deliverables

Making iterative progress



As described, assessments or discoveries are conducted to understand the current state, identify gaps, make recommendations to meet the desired state and embark on a transformation journey. Timelines could be impacted due to lack of (or delayed access to) information, lack of commitment from stakeholders, capability mismatch, complexity of the client’s current state, etc. And, this in turn affects the transformation programs and initiatives that follow.


Recommended good practices


Create a plan

Prepare a weekly plan and agenda. Share it with the client’s core team to keep them updated on progress.

Review the plan

Share the weekly agenda with the engagement team to apprise them of the tasks to be focused on.

Have respective PoCs for each workstream

Identify PoCs for each area/building block/workstream to ensure there is parallel progress made throughout the duration of the engagement (interviews, deep-dives, readouts to share initial observations/recommendations).

Adequate prep


Ensure that the owners/attendees are identified and agreed upon, agenda and meeting material is prepared before all client interactions (status debriefs, deep dives, executive workshops, readouts, etc.)

Regular communication

Regularly communicate and follow-up on RAID (Risks, Assumptions, Issues and Dependencies) during the checkpoints with the core team and sponsors.

Client awareness

In case of any delays, keep the client stakeholders informed.

Remote communication hygiene


Team members may be working across multiple time zones. Ever since the pandemic, most internal and client communication happens over video conferencing tools. Given that such engagements take place over shorter durations like a few weeks or months at most, there is an increased need for collaboration and effective communication. It is imperative that the time spent on team/client meetings and huddles is adequately utilized.


Recommended good practices


Working agreement

Have a working agreement within the team that captures each member’s timezone, core working hours, availability, tools and platform to be used. Respect any preferences indicated/agreed upon and communicate with individuals and the team accordingly.

Non-verbal communication

Use non-verbal communication while in virtual meetings (raise a hand to speak, thumbs up to agree without interrupting the flow, etc.).

Clear agenda

Set a clear agenda of the meetings or ad-hoc discussions, define the duration, frequency and attendees.

Keep track of progress


Use a virtual board/spreadsheet (whatever works for the team) to keep track of the action items and progress.

Work asynchronously as needed

Use digital collaboration platforms to contribute asynchronously to working documents.

Sticking to the scope 


Engagements may span different aspects, covering a breadth and depth of matters across operating models, platforms, product, data and culture. During the interviews or executive workshops, the client may share a direction towards the short-mid-long term strategies and seek a deep dive in to any trends or focus areas. Such interactions can be helpful to make the recommendations more relevant and actionable. But while such client requests should be addressed, it should not be at the cost of the initially agreed engagement.


Recommended good practices


Make appropriate use of client conversations

Engage on a strategic level rather than discuss tactical issues. Understand the top priorities, challenges or pain points to be addressed while having conversations or deep dives with the client.

Gather and benefit from insights

Use the insights gained from assessing client needs to frame relevant recommendations.

Create a roadmap

Create a high-level roadmap of initiatives that help execute the recommendations.

This is tricky, ultimately we want to get the client what they need and that may mean a change in scope or a refocus. But the best way to deal with this is to have very clearly set outcomes up front with the client. Make sure they feel bought in to them. Don't let them be vague. And if they seem to want to shift or you think things need to shift, make it explicit.
Kathy Gettelfinger
Digital Transformation Executive Partner, Thoughtworks

Consistency in deliverables


There are multiple activities performed during the engagement which contribute to building the final recommendations. These include synthesizing survey responses and inputs from interviews, creating first impressions of the observations, writing recommendations and a high level roadmap. Working on all these aspects may seem like a mammoth task. Teamwork, appropriate distribution of tasks and co-creation over siloed thinking help build a coherent narrative and develop well-reasoned artifacts and final deliverables.


Recommended good practices


Share meeting notes

All involved members cannot be part of every meeting or discussion. Sharing notes or key outcomes from client meetings or interviews can provide relevant information to team members working on their respective tasks.


If there is more than one person working on a similar or related task, it will be helpful to pair and evaluate the emerging theme (eg. the key message from an observation or recommendation) before writing it down. It will help avoid repetition and the duplication of effort.

Build common understanding

Review your work with other team members to receive feedback and build a common understanding.

Ensure coherence


Different team members might be working on different tasks. It is beneficial to have one member responsible for ensuring the final deliverable/narrative holds together coherently and does not appear to be individual thoughts in silos.

Making iterative progress


The recommendations made after an assessment or discovery are applicable in a given client/industry situation. These are contextual and are aligned to the business vision and strategy at the time when the engagement was carried out. To unlock the desired value, clients must execute the recommendations within a reasonable time after the engagement is over instead of keeping them aside and moving on to other initiatives.


Recommended good practices


Client readiness and willingness

Discuss with the client to understand the objective of the assessment/discovery, if they have the resources to implement the recommendations or if it is just a check-list activity.

Execution over procrastination

Implement recommendations in thin slices to ensure the project momentum is maintained.

Identify quick wins

There may be procedural procurement formalities involved to begin the next phase. If possible, identify quick wins that can be executed to showcase impact and maintain momentum – ensuring confidence and buy-in to execute the larger roadmap.

Identify allies


Identify allies within the functional teams and other stakeholder groups who can help in securing/expediting the next phase.

Understand the drivers

Understand the drivers that could enable or inhibit the client from moving forward. For example - what are the KPIs on which the client team members are measured, how do recommendations align or compete with other initiatives in their portfolio, etc.

The aspects in this guide are covered to suit the needs of a wide audience - first timers working as part of a team can refer to it as a starter guide, practitioners or experts can refer to it as a refresher and clients can refer to it to better understand what to expect. 


Many thanks to Kathy Gettelfinger, Sunil Mundra, Alexander Klaser and Joao Lucas Santana for their contribution and feedback.

Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.

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