Forays into Consultancy Part 1

Hi


How are you?


Let me tell you a story ! I've always been in IT roles, from 1st line, 2nd line and 3rd line support to Application Support and configuration roles. Back in January of this year, I moved into a new role as a Power Platform Consultant.


Dream role ! I had worked hard to get to this point. I had invested a lot of personal time to come to understand key components of the Power Platform, but really I was only scratching the surface. As a colleague and wise man (who appeared from the consulting shadows) has told me many times, consultancy is about "projects, not products".


My previous roles had been very much reactionary. The product was in place, and it was that and the customer's issues and needs that were the priority for me to help in the situation. The scene was already set, the product already embedded and I just had to work on getting the customer to be in a place where they were happy. Sometimes this was easy, sometimes this was hard. But I prided myself on treating others how I wished to be treated, so I never had any major issues with any customers, in fact it was this element that I have enjoyed the most. Understanding the customer's requirements and translating those into actionable items to solve their problems.


I have come up with the "Consultancy Sweet Spot" Venn diagram:



A Venn diagram showing the interplay between education, a customer first mindset and project scope which helps to determine the Consultancy Sweet Spot
The Consultancy Sweet Spot


What I have learnt so far in my journey in becoming a Power Platform Consultant is that the three key elements (yes there are others, but these are the dominant ones for me at the moment) in becoming a successful consultant are:


  1. Education

  2. Customer First Mindset

  3. Project Scope


Education


In every role I have undertaken there has been an element of learning, whether that be technology or a process, but in Consultancy there are many facets to this. Not only do you need to educate on the technology, in my case the Power Platform (passing PL900 Power Platform Fundamentals and PL200 Power Platform Functional Consultant recently) but also how to convert customer requirements into user stories to then provide the framework for building the solution.


Never before in any other role, have I felt education and continuous learning to be an integral part of my role. Luckily for me, I was passionate about this area of the Microsoft stack before I moved into Power Platform consultancy, so I find the learning part rewarding and I can see my technical skills improving.


Consultancy is a bit like being a Pub landlord, you need to know a bit of everything, be confident and articulate in what you are trying to explain and then specialise in an area, preferably in one where your passion lies.


Customer First Mindset


This is an interesting one and really is probably the most obvious. Being customer centric in any project you work on as a consultant is a must. Whether that is working on something internally or working for an external client. Having a solid process to requirement gathering and translation of those requirements into actionable work packets needs to be repeatable and scalable but with an open mind to allow for change which is outside of your control.


Being a consultant is a fine art of being subtle, but asking probing and clarifying questions to truly understand the customer's requirement. Getting them right first time is imperative to not slip on budget or scope. If there is uncertainty then clarification should be sort to ensure everyone is on the same track.


Project Scope


This is a vital part of consultancy and probably the hardest part to learn especially if you are coming from a reactionary area of IT like I had been in for the last 21 years. I was used to going that extra mile for the customer, and that is still present in consultancy but you need to have one eye on the project scope at all times. Understanding the differences between bugs and changes and how to prioritise these with involvement of a project manager and/or the customer, will help to ensure that the scope is understood by all parties and scope creep doesn't take place.


In summary


Consultancy is an interesting area, I am new to it. I am getting there and I am learning all the time. More importantly. I am getting the space to learn which is nearly as important as the actual learning itself.


I love working with clients and understanding how they tick and how best I can help them achieve their goals.


This is part 1 of a series of my Forays into Consultancy, come back soon for the next part.

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