Management & Marketing
Developing a proposal that wins the tender for an HR consulting project
Anne Bardoel

HRM80019 Human Resource Consultancy Project is the capstone and applied unit for the Master of Human Resource Management. Students work with an industry partner on a HR consultancy project that the organisation has identified. A consulting proposal is an important step to successfully pitch consulting services to win contracts with new clients. It not only serves as a guidepost for a consultant-client relationship, but it can help convert prospects into loyal, long-term clients. Readymade templates and video content provided by a tool such as Adobe Express is one of the most potent means for getting a potential client’s attention.
Resources
The lesson plan below provides detailed instruction for the delivery of a HR consultancy project. Through this project, students collaborate in small consultancy teams with an industry partner on a real-life HR consultancy project to design a credible and effective webpage. This lesson plan (Commons link) is available to access and download by Swinburne staff. 
This resource is available publicly on the Adobe Education Exchange (link coming soon!)

Problem
HRM80019 Human Resource Consultancy Project is the capstone and applied unit for the Master of Human Resource Management. Students work with an industry partner on a HR consultancy project that the organisation identifies. This unit is designed to give students an experience of being an actual consultant.
As part of their assessment, the students are asked to develop a webpage using Adobe Creative Cloud Express and create innovative content and image options to design a ‘look’ for their Consultancy company via an online presence.
Preparing graduates with digital literacy abilities is important for student marketability once they have completed their degrees. Developing solid digital literacy skills has also been identified as critical for HR professionals. (Khurasiah, Khalid & Husin, 2020). One key motivation for incorporating the Adobe Suite as part of this capstone unit is to partly meet employer expectations about digital skills among our HR graduates (van den Berg, Stander & van der Vaart, 2020).

Project Overview
The project requires students to develop a webpage using Adobe Creative Cloud Express to:
(1) Communicate the value of using their consultancy services, 
(2) Develop client-focused content, and 
(3) Provide a brief profile of each of the Consultants (i.e. students).

Students work in groups which is the predominant way HR Consulting teams work. The project requires digital literacy skills. In developing the webpage, students are encouraged to use photos, icons, logos, personalised fonts, and other customisable elements available via Adobe Creative Cloud Express to project an authentic and professional image of their Consultancy company. This is in line with the web presence of current HR Consulting companies e.g., see https://www.employmentinnovations.com/
Each student is required to develop an accurate profile of themselves and not to invent skills they do not have, but rather emphasise their existing skills and experience from an HR consultancy perspective. This experience assists students to develop a digital template about themselves which can be updated for future use.

Key Learnings
As an educator, there were several key learnings that I identified. First, on reflection, I needed to do a better job of scaffolding the digital learning experience. So, while I had provided enough support on developing the technical digital skills needed to use the Adobe programs (e.g. having an Adobe educator take a workshop in class, providing online tutorials etc.), what also would have assisted students was emphasis on scaffolding in terms of critical literacy. Specifically, in future I will have students develop a storyboard for their webpage as an in-class exercise that we workshop. This would provide an important iterative step for students in developing their digital literacy over the semester.
A personal learning experience was that it took me totally out of my comfort zone. I am used to being ‘the expert’ and facilitating the project provided me with a visceral reminder the learning experience can be challenging for students sometimes. It taught me to embrace feeling a sense of trepidation and be open with the students about my own apprehensions as we worked through the project. Having said this, I now feel so much more confident about using other platforms in the Adobe Suite as the basis for future assessments for this unit and other units I teach. So, my advice to educators who feel they lack digital expertise is ‘jump in, feet first’, as there is nothing like being involved in teaching something to improve your own digital competencies.

Digital Literacies Pillars
A key aspect of digital literacy is having the ability to identify and use technology confidently and creatively – at a general level the project achieved this for students. In terms of the Digital Literacy Pillars, both technological literacy and information literacy were promoted but as discussed earlier, more emphasis needs to be placed on developing critical literacy in terms of reflecting on how digital artefacts can be used for webpages.

Impact Data
Impact was achieved in several ways:
1. I am a member of the Australian HR Scholars Group which holds an annual symposium where the latest ideas in teaching and research in human resource education are discussed amongst senior HR scholars in Australia. The next symposium will be held in November 2022 and I am presenting the key learnings about this project to this senior group of academics.
2. The industry partner – Swinburne People, Partners and Culture – receives a link to the Webpage each student groups develops.
3. Student comments in the Unit Evaluations for HRM 80019 included ‘I developed new strategies regarding a digital presence such as creating a web, and many more.’
4. Embedding a level of digital literacy into the capstone Master of HRM unit.
5. Discussion with other postgraduate teaching staff in the Master of HRM of improving digital literacy in our students by incorporating the Adobe Suite in other postgraduate HRM unit assessment items. In particular, moving from solely requiring written assessment towards including digital platforms

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