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The 10 commandments of IT consulting success

Steven A. Lowe | May 27, 2015
Thou shall surmount epic hurdles in your next tech gig, thanks to these sage tips.

For example, your team knows that HotTechTool2020 would be perfect for this new system. It offers the performance you need, supports all the latest browsers, and could cut development time by half. But it requires new production hardware and takes several months to learn to use well; furthermore, none of the client's developers have even heard of it.

While the hardware costs might be surmountable, the client's developers are comfortable with OldTechTool88 used by the current system, and the client doesn't think it could find enough hotshot devs to keep your newfangled solution going once your team is done. After some discussion, you all agree that upgrading to OldTechTool1999 is a more sustainable path.

5. Respect the client's privacy and reputation

The client may not want their competition to know they're working with you, much less what you are working on. Respect the client's privacy and reputation with silence; never mention the client's name without permission; even then, do so judiciously and to mutual benefit.

Simply talking glowingly about those you're working with at the client site can haunt you, as you never know who is looking to steal away talented people. A conversation in a hotel bar could well lead to your champion being poached, and now your project is suspended indefinitely.

6. Momentum is everything

It takes time to understand a technical environment and to absorb the implications of any change you might make to that environment. Give the client, and yourself, sufficient time between discussions to allow for dissemination and internal discussion, as warranted, but be mindful of momentum. Often when the process slows down, it is because the next decision or commitment is larger than expected or anticipated, so don't wait too long to reconnect. Take smaller steps if necessary, but keep moving.

Suppose your proposal for the first set of deliverables has been submitted, and you're waiting for the patron to approve it. And waiting. And waiting. After several days, you're still being told that the proposal is under consideration, but your grapevine is telling you the patron is reeling from sticker shock and questioning the sanity of everyone involved.

Often this will be because the client has never used an outside consultant before, and the size of the first commitment is scaring them. Re-engage with the client, verify and validate their reactions, and lead them into a discussion of smaller, less scary first steps, to maintain momentum.

7. Communication is king

Efficient, responsive communication keeps the connection strong. Don't waste everyone's time with unnecessary meetings. Don't waste the client's time with unnecessary requests. And whatever you do, don't waste your own time with nonproductive activities, even when requested by the client.


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