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Date Before You Get Engaged: Use Projects as Auditions

October 26, 2022

Hiring an executive is a major commitment for you and your team—you need to get it right. We’ve talked before about “auditioning” fractional executives: starting the relationship with a project, then proceeding to a longer engagement if it’s a successful trial run.

Many of our clients hire executives for short term projects. Projects like these can fill a specific need or determine whether an individual will be a good fit for a longer-term role. To demonstrate how it works, we’ve consulted some of our fractional executives and are sharing a selection of the more popular initial engagements as a sample.

Finance Team Scalability Assessment

When hiring a CFO, a Finance Team Scalability assessment can be an effective starting project.

This assessment ensures the company has the right data and systems to make strong business decisions in a timely manner. It diagnoses individual team members’ skills and competencies relative to the needs of the business now and 12-24 months down the road. It also helps the CEO create coaching and succession plans for individuals on the team, as well as spot potential needs for executives in new roles or in leveled-up versions of existing roles.

As companies scale up, the role of the finance function changes rapidly. Growth is needed to make good decisions, remain compliant, and provide accurate reporting. Likewise, individual effectiveness at the executive level requires new job-specific skills and leadership competencies. The Finance Team Scalability Assessment will help measure a potential CFO’s skillset and will help the existing team understand their current position.

This project takes 2-4 weeks and generally costs between $5,000 and $7,500.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Assessment

When hiring a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) consultant, you might start with a DE&I Assessment.

This identifies a company’s current stage in their DE&I journey. A potential executive will work with the team to co-create a strategy for moving forward with DE&I, complete with practices, processes, and culture, and include a plan for top leaders to fully engage.

This project generally takes 1-2 months to complete, with a cost between $5,000 and $10,000.

Go-to-Market Strategy

Some marketing executives recommend creating a Go-to-Market (GTM) strategy as an initial project. When launching a new product, looking to enter a new market, or reevaluating a current model, a GTM strategy ensures you’re on track.

This project will support the marketing team in using the most effective channels, targeting the right audience, and tailoring messaging. It will establish key performance indicators (KPIs) on the way to achieving specific marketing and sales goals. An effective GTM strategy can reduce time to market, increase conversion rates and demand, and ultimately drive revenue.

This project takes 1-2 months to complete and costs between $10,000 and $20,000.

Investor Pitch Deck

When you’re starting to fundraise, hire a consultant to help you create your investor pitch deck.

You’ll walk away with a standard, reusable investor deck. It can be used as preliminary reading before an investor call—or as a takeaway after the call—in order to pique the interest of investors, provide information, or clarify your business.

This project takes 1-2 weeks to complete and costs between $2,500 and $5,000.

If you’re interested in learning more, or if none of these projects fit your needs, our Talent Consultants can help. We’ll work with you to find the right project, then match you with executives who can do the job. Email us at

Thank you to Bolster Members Sharon Salmon, Leanne Smullen, Neil Wilks, Shail Khyaraya, Melissa Bruno, Teresa Troester-Falk, and Dan Ramsden for sharing your insights and experience with us.

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-Cathy Hawley, October 26, 2022