How to be a successful consultant

Man posing in office. Photo.

What does it mean to be a dedicated and passionate consultant? Does it exist a quantifiable method of measuring a consultant’s success or happiness? What does it mean for the companies hiring those consultants? And how does it affect their customer satisfaction?

Written by Jarl André Hübenthal, Senior Architect in Itera

Self-confidence

There are aspects to some of those questions which need to be investigated in order to fully answer them. One of them being how the individual sees himself in the job market and in the company. I would say it starts with the individual and its ability to believe in their work and think positively in regard to their own knowledge. Secondly, I would state that certifications and competence building is a good start for anyone to feel knowledgeable about anything. Sure, it might not be valuable in the long run. But certifications are a way to boost your own and the customers confidence that you understand any specific topic. If you are starting to work with technology that you have barely touched you will not be confident enough to take the right decisions. Competence building can boost self-confidence and awareness about your current skill level.

Technology trend awareness

I have worked for eleven years as a developer, and I would say that in some areas certifications and competence building might not be needed. But even so, I need to be on top of the current technology trends. Technology is changing faster and faster. You can’t know everything at all times but taking certifications or courses might give you a pretty decent birds eye perspective. I would also certainly suggest to read news websites, listen to podcasts and generally keeping up to date.

Team culture

Working in teams is important to leverage each other’s knowledge. There is no value in one single person on the team being a guru on a specific field, so sharing our knowledge has never been more important. Think about it, wouldn’t it be better to share what you know and spread your knowledge, than to sit in your own corner and keep everything for yourself?  It’s safer to have a person on a team that is not irreplaceable. And it’s good for you, when you are not called up on your phone when on vacation. I think the most important values of a team member should be its abilities to work as a team player, its ability to use general and specific knowledge combined when solving a problem, and to deliver what is required. Job security has never been about security. It’s the total opposite. You are prone to be totally replaced along with the system.

Work with the customer

And let’s just be honest, there is not always that many lifechanging green field projects out there. Sometimes you will have to work in projects where most architectural decisions have been decided up front by the customer. The ability to work freely in such confined spaces is important, but it’s even more important to communicate with the customer and be honest about what’s not working and what the customer should change. If you are not honest in regard to this, you will most likely be a miserable consultant working in tight spaces with no freedom. If you do however speak your thoughts, you can rest confident that you have given proper advice to the customer. It’s your job to help your customer succeed.

Conclusion

I would say that it’s probably not possible to measure anyone’s happiness. But you will see it indirectly when a consultant is eager to help, willing to contribute its thoughts about the current state of things, and when he or she is confident that what is delivered is hitting the target. Sometimes we all miss the target, but we can know that we actually tried. It all boils down to whether or not we manage to trust our self, work with the team and the customer, being on top of current trends and deliver what has been agreed upon. Such a person is worth hiring and keeping in the business! Be a positive and optimistic team player, and the rest will solve itself.

Jarl André Hübenthal

Jarl André Hubenthal

Senior Architect

jarl.andre.hubenthal@itera.no