Path to Success: Consulting Best Practices

| By: Craig Fulton

The “Oxford English Dictionary” defines consulting as “the action of seeking information or advice from someone with expertise in a particular area.” In the technology services industry, consulting goes one step further to provide customized solutions to customer-specific problems. This involves a process of discovery as each company possesses unique characteristics that affect the nature, type, and origin of the issues that need to be addressed.

Consulting has a unique window of influence with customers that becomes apparent by reviewing their system vulnerabilities and process deficiencies. Effective communication with the customer is imperative.  Clearly defining engagements will help ensure appropriate expectations. With the nature of consulting being one-on-one intensive, the potential for relationship building sets the stage for customer longevity and future sales opportunities.

Best Practice Concepts

To ensure your consulting organization is operating at peak efficiency, follow these 5 best practice tips.

Know the Gap – The first key to consulting is taking the time to identify and confirm between your customer’s needs and your services. Uncovering and documenting the gap ensures there are no surprises, and the value of the solution you provide is clearly stated and understood.

Clarify Success – Clearly define the targeted outcome and process for achieving it.

Understand the Business – Take time to build context for the customer, including the industry and customer culture/norms.

Focus on Value and Results – Even if the customer has no idea what they need, always focus on where you can extract maximum value for them and never lose sight of the execution required for success.

Be Consistent, but Flexible – Often, things change mid-engagement, so make sure you maintain focus and work with the customer if they want to change the scope.

No two consulting engagements are alike, so having a plan in place prior to starting with a new customer is very important. Use these 5 tips as a guide to help you get started.