IT Consulting can be challenging, especially when you find yourself struggling to show your value in a multi-vendor consulting engagement. Most companies rely on different consulting firms and contractors in order to achieve their technology goals. Although this can be very beneficial to the company, it can also be difficult and chaotic for the consultants. Embracing the chaos is a must-have characteristic for an IT consultant, followed by these three simple rules on how to provide value.
Rule #1 – Understand Your Purpose
Understanding your scope of work and the reason why you are involved in each engagement is an essential part of bringing value to a project. In a previous blog, I talked about how out of scope tasks can be toxic for a consultant. Every customer has their own expectations and needs for each project, which are clearly defined in a statement of work (SOW). Your job as an IT consultant is to help the customer achieve their technology expectations and needs. The first objective of a consultant seeking to bring value to a project is to understand his/her scope of work. Think of the SOW as your reason for existence in the customer’s environment. Every implementation, task, and advice you give must align with the scope of work. Neglecting to live by the SOW is project suicide and will render you as a valueless consultant. Understand your purpose and do not deviate from it because the customer is not a forgiving beast.
Rule #2 – Let Go Of Your Ego And Execute To Perfection
Task execution is where a lot of consultants spend their energy, but often times get it wrong. Each task must be executed to perfection, regardless of how minute you think the task may be. The IT field is already an ego-driven space where consultants fight to prove their intelligence. Elevated levels of competition does not mean that only the smartest people handle the “biggest” challenges. Consultants with an ego think that certain tasks are beneath them and therefore, have negative attitudes when asked to perform such tasks. If you want to provide value on a project then you must welcome every task within your scope. At some point in my career I made a conscious decision to adopt this mindset because it is an invitation to success, as well as increase in billing opportunity.
Rule #3 – Prepare The Customer For Your Last Day
All projects must come to an end, at least for a consultant. The end of a project is equally important as the start of the project. A consultant that adopts this mindset will put measures in place that helps the customer thrive after he/she has finished the project. This means documentation, knowledge transfer, close-out/off-boarding meeting, and any other type of action(s) that will ensure the customers continued success. Another reason to follow this rule is because it will add to your exceptional reputation as a consultant. With this understanding you will increase your likelihood of securing more work from the customer or even obtaining retainer contracts. Your efforts on every customer engagements should reflect exceptional work and preparing your customers for a successful transition upon the end of the project is a great way to solidify your great work.