The external consultant is in an unenviable position. We come from outside an organisation with problems and/or plans and advise them how to do things better. In so doing we come up against politics and personalities. We give busy people more work. We threaten fiefdoms and islands of competence or incompetence. Sometimes we find people that are desperate for solutions to problems that are not in the scope of the consultancy.
Why do we do it?
We want to make a difference.
We have skills to offer that most companies don’t need to have on their staff.
We learn a lot from our clients.
We get a variety of work that we couldn’t get otherwise.
We meet lots of people and socially integrate well.
We travel and experience different environments, earning expertise across many platforms.
We get to work within deadlines.
A consultant can help a company with a particular aspect of their business that is struggling or not making progress. We start by getting to know the clients and how they operate. We talk to as many people as we can and devour the contents of their content management systems or environments. Right through the engagement we are still learning new things about the business, the management, the roles and the landscape. We document the weaknesses and strengths, agree a goal state and formulate a plan to get there.
For IntegrationWorks as integration specialists, it is usually about data, and how it is handled, managed, owned, maintained, transformed, transferred, described, synchronised, cleaned, and maybe even disposed of. We come into organisations where integration is an expensive afterthought and leave them with an understanding that it needs to be baked into projects from the start. We help to imbue them with an “API first” mentality that means that no software is purchased or developed unless it comes with integration points and a clear data model.
Our first responsibility is to satisfy the goals of the client for the engagement. Often, however, we are able to suggest additional goals that are of great value to them. Most clients are only too aware of their shortcomings when they come to us. We are often able to point out strengths that they didn’t know about. We focus on the outcome rather than worry too much about what people are doing wrong. If we get the process right, people will find the right way easier than any other.
“Getting buy-in” and “bringing people along for the journey” are clichés but they describe accurately our way of operating. We need to be aware of what people want from their work and help them achieve it across the entire business. The engagement is not only about the CxOs (although they pay the bills) but about the wider team, from management, operational and technical. Even the most disengaged employees can be enthused when they see that they are listened to and can help to make a difference, which is the type of experience a consultant can bring. A successful engagement leaves the organisation healthier and the staff happier and puts rest to that common inter-office tribal warfare. Letting a consultant work with you and create a clean canvas helps everyone.
So if we are invited into your workplace come and say hello. External consultants are not to be feared - we're there for a purpose and we will listen to you and see what we can do to make your work more effective and more valued.
If you would like to meet with one of our technical integration consultants, please contact Ian Vanstone, Global Chief Technology Officer via Linked in