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Consultants – Do Yourself Out of a Job07/10/14

Out of A JobKey to successful consultancy is empowering the customer to continue to do what you have done – and do yourself out of a job.

This blog is guidance for consultants in our industry as well as for those engaging consultants within their organisation.

For the consultants, these are some of the things you should be doing to empower your customer. For those engaging consultants, these are the things you should be looking for in your consultants.

I am sure that we have all seen consultants entrenched in an organisation and the organisation seems unable to operate without them.

At Macanta, we have empowerment as one of our six values. By empowerment we mean being able to walk away from an engagement and know that you have transferred knowledge and capability to the organisation. Yes – we have done ourselves out of a job but this is all about our reputation. I believe that our reputation relies on a customer’s testimonial so I want them to say ‘we were empowered and furnished with the ongoing capability….’ rather than ‘they were here for 12 months and when they left everything unravelled and went back to the old ways of working’.

Remember, you don’t want to give a poor service experience that can be amplified across networks and social channels. ITSM is a small and niche industry in many countries and brand and reputation is key.

Empowerment is all about collaboration, coaching, mentoring and enabling. It’s also about increasing customer loyalty.

Firstly, the consultant needs to listen to what the customer wants. Really listen and understand the customer’s needs. Explore what their drivers are before getting into solution mode and if the customer is already in solution mode, take them back to the problem statement or opportunity and move forward from there. I see many consultants applying a cookie cutter approach or providing the customer with a blueprint (i.e. here is one I made earlier), which just doesn’t meet the customer’s needs.

You need to involve the customer in everything that you do. The customer needs to retain ownership of the outcomes

I have also seen consultants lock themselves away in a room and design processes that no one will ever use. They have not involved the key stakeholders at any stage until delivery of designed processes so there is no internal ownership. This is where regular workshops and customer involvement is crucial. However, you have to be ensured up front that the customer will commit to providing you with the internal resources to enable this to take place. I always have a dependency statement within a customer proposal that states that the customer will make available required resources to retain ownership of the engagement outcomes.

Employees need to be a part of the discovery, design and solution and not feel that they are being ‘done to’ as this just creates resistance to change. Make coaching and mentoring of key employees part of your responsibility.

Consultants need to get the right customer data, input, feedback and insights throughout the engagement and turn them into actions.

Don’t ignore the rest of the business. I have often had conversations with IT managers who believe that they know what the customer perception is and what is needed and don’t want you to engage in a discovery piece of work either because they don’t want to be proved wrong or want to reduce the number of consultancy days (or both!).

If you don’t deliver something that improves customer service (directly or indirectly), what is the definition of your success?

So, the consultant should take all steps to ensure that they can leave the customer engagement knowing that the customer has the capability to maintain (and continue to improve) what has been delivered.

Yes you will have done yourself out of a job but you will get asked back again. Not to mention the referrals you will get.

Empowerment should be key to every consultancy engagement and if you are in an organisation that has engaged consultants but you don’t feel empowered, maybe it’s time to look elsewhere for your required services.