Real-world consulting best practices: part 2

| By: Craig Fulton

In part 1 of this series, we talked about the importance of benchmarking and identifying/filling gaps. We illustrated these points by sharing real consulting experiences we’ve had throughout our 30+ years in the technology service industry.

Now, we’ll turn our attention to two more consulting best practices you can’t do without: understanding the customer’s business, and being consistent, but flexible.

1. Real-world example: understanding the business

IT consultant Erin helped a customer that had a unique business model. The customer specialized in the manufacturing of drilling components, but acted as a general contractor in the production of products.

They needed a system to track: (1) jobs, (2) scheduling, (3) completion, (4) billing. They coordinated through multiple vendors and subcontractors, and had issues tracking time, expenses, and milestones.

Erin conducted a thorough business review to fully understand how the business operated. During this business review, she met with management members from all departments, reviewed their processes, researched other businesses, and got to know the personalities of key players.

By understanding all aspects of the business, Erin was able to identify several solutions and make sound recommendations to solve the problems.

Why knowing the business matters

If Erin hadn’t taken the time to familiarize herself with the business, she would have risked unnecessarily spinning her wheels and making poor recommendations, which wouldn’t have been a good fit for the organization. Taking the time to learn the customer’s business will be an investment that more than pays for itself in the long run.

2. Real-world example: be consistent, but flexible

A2Z asked consultant Jerry to assist in building out a new service offering. They needed assistance analyzing several products and risks, and then determining pricing for those products.

Together, A2Z and Jerry decided to build their own infrastructure internally as a part of the new service offering.

Jerry was very pleased with this decision as build-outs are his company’s specialty. However, months into the build, A2Z learned of a shared infrastructure that would reduce operating costs and allow them to reduce the price of the offering while still increasing the forecast profit.

This wasn’t favorable for Jerry. However, being flexible, he accepted the change and moved forward using best practices that had been successful in the past.

Why being consistent, but flexible matters

At the end of the day, customers want to know you’ve got their best interests at heart. Because Jerry allowed the customer to shift to an alternate solution that cost less and provided a better outcome, he demonstrated his dedication to the customer’s overall success, increasing his odds of securing a repeat customer rather than just a one-off job.

These are just a few real consulting experiences that illustrate industry best practices. By applying these to your consulting practice, you can increase customer satisfaction and the overall effectiveness of the solutions you provide, which is a win-win for you and the client.

Our next installment in this series will share top strategies for increasing your billable consulting time. You won’t want to miss it! Subscribe to the blog and be alerted when it’s posted.

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