Who will join me on this journey? Finding the right ‘IT’ consultant

09 Jun, 2015

Key takeaways
*Find a consultant that fits YOUR needs.
*The lowest cost consultant is not necessarily the right one for you.
*Good consultants are more than technology experts, they have valuable soft skills to help you be successful.

In today’s IT industry, finding the right consultant for any IT implementation can be time-consuming and frustrating. So how do you find the right one for you?
I’m in consulting now, but I used to be in the client world. I have worked with many different consulting firms over the years, and let’s just say- Not all are equal.
Many of us are used to the regular variations from consultant: Price, location, maturity of skills, etc. But what about the soft skills? Things like: flexibility, patience, understanding, and a willingness to walk with you on your journey.
All companies are on a journey. It could be a journey to be more profitable, or to grow their market share; or maybe it’s to break into a new market segment. In IT, our journeys tend to look inward: how can we be better? how can we stop the madness of operational issues? how can we be more scalable? Do more with less?
The solution is rarely a simple implement some new technology and go. It’s usually a combination of people changes, process changes and supporting technology. Yes, you need a partner that can do the technology, however, people and process changes require more than book smarts. They require consultants with finesse. They require people who have walked in your shoes, who understand the human challenge associated with change, and can be there to support your staff when they fumble, freak out, or want to take their toys and go home.
A good consulting group will spend time, up front, to understand what makes your group unique. Good consultants don’t compare you to other large IT shops and try to convince you that you need to change. They listen to you, and co-create with you. They help you find the path to where YOU want to be, where you NEED to be. Sure, they will challenge your thinking, and they won’t always agree, but they will always support you. They will support you, not because you are paying them to, but because they value the partnership. They value the people, not just at the top, but at all levels of the organization. They will be honest, and they will help you through challenges. They bring a variety of ideas and options from many different places, and they will partner with you to find the “special sauce” that works for you.
Too many large consulting firms come in and tell you they have a plan to take you from where you are now to paradise in few short weeks or months. They want you to know that they have experience, confidence, and can deliver value quickly. That’s good, right? But at what cost? How much of YOU will get lost following their path? Is their path really the journey you are on? Or does it just look like it’s close enough, sacrificing key elements of your culture, just to deliver value a few weeks earlier?
Finding a good consultant that really fits your needs does take time, and it doesn’t come from the RFP. It comes from talking with the consulting leadership, and the potential consultants you will work with. Don’t make a decision based solely on what the sales people say, or what the SOW says. Ask to talk with their senior delivery management, ask if you can meet one or two of their consultants. Good consulting shops will be happy to take this step with you, because they value the partnership. They are also looking at you, to decide if you are a good client for them. Good consulting shops don’t cut their rates just to beat the competition, or cut critical engagement hours. They make sure that YOU will be successful, and they aren’t afraid to explain why the SOW costs are what they are.
So what should you ask? Think of it almost like an interview:

  1. Have you ever had a client that kept changing their mind? How did you address it?
  2. Have you ever met with a group of people who didn’t want to be there? How did you get them engaged?
  3. Have you ever had a client that was frustrated, potentially on the verge of cancelling their implementation? How did you support and coach them?

There are many other potential things to add. Think critically about your organization and what YOU need. Make sure that you get a partner that really wants what you want.
Today’s blog post is written by Michelle Murtha, Senior Engagement Manager, Alcor Solutions Inc. She is a 20 year IT veteran who has worked across multiple industries, in a variety of technologies and platforms.  She is now focused on IT Service Management practices and the ServiceNow enterprise application.  Michelle’s focus is on holistic solutions to IT problems, seeing the challenges in People, Process, and Technology.  She is located in Oregon.

Alcor Solutions Inc. is a global cloud advisory and implementation services company serving clients in multiple geographies across the globe. Our consultants provide advice to leading businesses on cloud platforms, architecture, enterprise service management and integrating IT service delivery. Our clients include global Fortune 500 as well as leading organizations in multiple industry verticals.

Alcor’s focus has been building strong competence on cutting edge technologies and advising clients in implementing them. We have partnered with industry leading cloud and Software as a Service (SaaS) platform providers to bring cost effective, rapid implementation cloud solutions to our clients. We are passionate about our thought leadership and believe that successful IT implementations result equally from good strategy and technology excellence. We believe that balanced advice and implementation requires a multi-dimensional perspective. As such, our consulting team is derived from a combination of experts in IT strategy, cloud technology as well as service governance.
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