18 July, 2005

What makes a good consultant?

A couple of weeks ago I found my self in a situation where someone asked me ”what does it mean to be a consultant to you?”. Not at all anticipating the question I answered without really thinking and went on about top of the line technical knowledge etc.

Walking away from this situation I started thinking about my answer and what I think makes a good consultant. And I don’t think technical competence is such a big part of being a good consultant. Then my job would go to India in a blink. Of course you have to be a good software developer to get the gig, but there is other things that really matter to.

I would say the ability to be humble and to listen to the client from their point of reference and not your own. Many consultants I’ve met starts mapping the potential clients words to tech-terms at once. If the client is management, he/she is seldom interested in hearing that ”that is possible with the new WSE 2.0 beta… proxy pattern …”.

Next comes the hard(er) part, the delivery.

  • The regular bulk consultant A delivers what the client said they wanted.
  • The Excelled top-consultant B delivers what a client wants.

It’s of course hard to deliver and every now and then you’ll miss. But you got to aim at trying to deliver what the client really wants. It some times can be as simple putting at date picker at a date field and sometimes it’s a lot more complicated. The point is, if you don’t try you’re never gonna hit that mark.

Another simple thing is to admitting to don’t know the answer for something. Just say it as it is ”I don’t have an answer for you right now, but I’ll take it as homework and get back to you on that”. Dress right for the occasion.

To sum it up, act professional! And remeber who puts food on you table.

Do you agree?

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