Technology consultants – I’m not a big fan. And I don’t think I’m alone. Sure, some large companies need consultants, but I believe that smaller firms should steer clear of them. Frankly the larger companies don’t really need them either, but that is another blog about how big bureaucratic organizations are often broken and need exhaustive coalition-building meetings and CYA documents to make decisions.
Let me be clear on my definition of “consultants”: people who provide expert advice professionally. They are in the advice business first, and the action business second. What does that mean? In my experience it means too much money gets spent on too many long meetings that result in too much time spent producing too many “thought pieces.” What’s missing? Getting the project done in a timely way. Instead execution happens after delivery of a dusty binder and an additional project bid.
At Waident we respect clients’ time, quickly making great decisions and then executing. And we do it on budget and on time. How do we make this magic happen? I think there are four underlying reasons for our success: intimacy, trust, connection and orientation.
- Intimacy – We get to know our clients, their goals and how they make decisions, which means we don’t need exhaustive meetings to get background for every project. We see the kinds of technical issues the organization faces every day because the problems cross our helpdesk, and are logged and reported.
- Trust – Because we have longstanding relationships with our clients, they trust us to make sound decisions based on our experience across many companies. We don’t need to produce 30-page documents to justify our existence or our recommendations.
- Connection – We work to get the right people in the room the first time and keep the discussion crisp. We only have follow-up meetings if absolutely needed. We provide timely, concise communication after meetings and to track project progress.
- Orientation – We are not consultants; we are a consultative technology management company. It may sound like I’m splitting hairs, but it’s an important distinction. Our product is not advice, it is active management of a client’s technology, delivered in a consultative way.
So are there any good consultants out there? A few. My favorite consultants are more consultative and action oriented, and less prone to wordy treatises on this, that and the other thing. They focus less on reams of B.S. advice and more on driving positive action for their clients.
If you are “stuck” with a consultant, make sure you have someone in the room who has a good B.S.-o-meter, and can help re-focus on action versus discussion, timeliness versus exhaustiveness.