Organizations, throughout multiple industries, are striving to successfully manage their IT environments. Many even find it necessary to invite assistance from some form of professional services organization to help them achieve their goals. I have worked at several of these firms over the course of my career. When we host internal discussions amongst ourselves about the progress we are making (or the lessons learned from working with our customers) we’ve noticed some common themes that, if addressed preemptively, can make our work together much more successful.
The content below is a summary of some of our recent conversations that we’d like to share with everyone.
Making a Decision to Engage the Right Way
#1 – First, do not make the decision to hire a consulting firm without fully engaging your staff. Gather a clear understanding of your pain points. Our mission is to work with our customers and guide them to success. However, one of the common themes we’ve discovered is that the scope of work we agree to doesn’t always align properly with the needs of the organization. Much of this can be avoided if internal communication within the organization is enacted to help solidify exactly why a consulting firm is needed, and where we should focus our attention. We recommend the following methods for getting the right answers:
- Send out surveys which hone in on possible areas of concern and analyze the responses
- Host a series of meetings to personally hear feedback on what’s working, and what needs improvement
- Invite people to submit feedback via email
- If you are the Executive Sponsor of this effort, walk out and ask your fellow colleagues! The personal touch is always appreciated
#2 – Once the decision to invite a consulting firm has been approved, work internally to identify the key roles, along with personnel to fill those roles. These individuals need to successfully convey the pain points needing to be addressed by the consulting firm, and champion the effort once work begins. Some of the critical personnel we always look forward to engaging with include:
- The Executive Sponsor – Accountable for defining the needs of the organization, ensuring a proper scope of work is clearly laid out with the consulting firm, and fostering communication by setting clear goals and objectives for all involved with the project. If they are too busy to engage with the consultant you may not want to bring one in- seriously, they are that important to success.
- For any process related projects, identifying the owners of the respective processes being addressed is vital for success. These Process Owners should not be chosen at random. Instead, we will focus on those who have the most experience within the field, and have significant leverage within the organization to help drive the changes we will formulate (should be the individuals selected). Once chosen, it is critical that the Executive Sponsor empowers these Process Owners to work with the consulting firm to ultimately be the decision maker for their respective process, and provide proper backing within the organization to help drive the necessary change
- For engagements where a technological implementation or enhancement is involved, organizations can greatly assist consulting firms, like ours, by helping us navigate the internal processes of launching a tool or installing a new application. Does your organization require a presentation in front of an Architectural Review Board? Is there a Change Management policy already in place? Will IT Security need to approve an implementation? If the answer to any of these questions is “Yes,” that’s perfectly okay! A great consulting firm’s methodology will always be adaptive enough to conform to your current standards and, by letting them know in advance of what to expect, the holistic team can preemptively prepare for these steps, which greatly increases our collective ability to seamlessly implement the technology involved.
We constantly strive to exceed the expectations of our customers. Our collective experience has taught us that when our clients are fully engaged with us, and can help bring the most correct and empowered individuals to the table, we are able to help deliver the much needed change that brought us to your organization in the first place.
What we’ve discussed here are common themes, based on decades of collective experience from my colleagues who work with organizations just like yours every single day. By laying the foundation for work that is about to commence, customers will be able to maximize their interaction with consulting firms such as ours, and achieve maximum results.