Engaging new and potentially challenging clients can always be daunting, particularly when an expectation has been set as to what role you will play as a part of a team. Whether consulting and road-mapping potential outcomes and future work, to delivering a full project. In my time working with Kloud, the broader sense of the term ‘consultant’ appears to be at an all-time high in terms of what it means to the professional marketplace. I view today’s Business Consultant as someone who guides an individual stakeholder or group, based on engaging and understanding given circumstances or a proposed business case, to help make decisions on adopting a specific direction – one which is considered the most appropriate or in their best interest.
The client, as we know them, usually comes with high expectations (surely, as they are paying good money for quality service), but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they know what they want right now. Solutions and recommended approaches aren’t always black and white and neither should be the decisions on whether to approach them or not i.e. providing a solution in the present versus future proofing based on projections of desirable future business outcomes.
So, before pulling the panic cord and calling for the chopper to extract you from a project where delivery may be stalling or responsibilities and requirements changing from one day to the next, perhaps narrow the window and focus on the objectives immediately in front of you. When targeting these immediate objectives look at which ones align with your strengths, not only in skills but also in your unique personality. Ask yourself– ‘What aspects of my skills and ability to provide the best services and outcomes for my clients allows for them, as well as my peers, to identify my own, unique brand?’
Business Case Example
A medium-sized business had already taken steps to progress out of it’s technological infancy, by purchasing the necessary software and scoping infrastructure requirements for where it intended it’s future state to be. However, with a limited business case from key stakeholders, time and resources available for business discovery exercises, and ability for IT to meet the support demands of the business, a series of challenges looked to stifle the enabling of these software and infrastructure solutions. From a technical standpoint, the IT staff where highly capable, but required analytical and consulting capability to aid the transition.
However, the CIO remained adamant on the direction he desired the company to head in, and so in engaging with external consultants and allowing an almost agile-like engagement with the various business departments, was able to focus on the larger picture of developing their internal IT as a technological innovation body, as well as a support function, while having the staff engage collaboratively in the transition to the new technological state. The engagement with consultants who had to act flexibly due to the lack of time and business case development allowed for a situation where they were, in turn, able to challenge themselves, drawing on past experience, apply skills outside of their portfolio and self-educate on the solution(s), to deliver the desired outcomes for the project. The end result was inciting positive attitudes towards, and a broadened understanding of IT as well as the community-building effects that these modern technologies could have on the business.
While this specific situation might be nothing new to some consultants out there, the value in strengthening your brand through outcomes that flow into positive effects for a client’s company is something that is not always achieved, but should be a key focus, particularly when offering guidance and advising on a solution.
Applying the most valuable aspects of your skill set to the appropriate situation has the potential to not only yield bigger wins for your project, but also show the client a level of capability and control that allows for an investment of trust, something that in the long-term, is an invaluable intangible between consultant, client, the team (Kloud) and your (Kloudie) unique brand of consulting.
Be sure that, in empowering and promoting your own brand, you don’t forget about the team. Part of your strength and value can be your resourcefulness, not just your individual skill. In a present technological landscape endorsing constant collaboration, there’s no harm in not knowing what you don’t know – just be willing to ask and learn. Know that giving time to self-evaluation and development translates to value added in the long-term, at least in from my experience.