Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Perspective on Consulting

When I first got in the consulting game, back in 2004, I wondered why it was consultants had such a bad rap. After spending five years working with a really good group of peers, I still had no real clue why consultants had a bad rap. I mean, I knew our group was an elite group, but I didn't think that others could have been that mediocre. I mean, if our group was as elite (as it's become evident), one really wonders why: A) partners kept trying to reduce our rates; B) customers balked at our prices; or, C) how it was the person that took over our group managed to drive our group into the ground in under two years.

I mean, I get that people always want things cheaper. If they didn't, how would Walmart exist. But, at the end of the day, if you're paying good money, one would think you'd want good results. As with many things, in consulting, you get no more than you pay for. If you go cheap, you get crappy consultants and worse results. As a group, we always performed. We came in and executed. We knew our shit cold. So, we did it quick and we did it right. Usually, we did it quickly enough that we could be done with the work early enough to do knowledge transfer and other supplemental tasks.

As a group, we rocked. Many times we got brought in, it was to clean up the messes left behind by prior, less competent consultants.

At any rate, I left that world behind. It wasn't really by choice (see prior notation about the group being managed into the ground), but that's beside the point. Now, I work for an organization that brings in vendor consultants to do the types of things I used to do for a living. As a customer, I'm now able to see, in practice, just how above-the-norm our consulting group was. I mean, every guy in our group, in addition to being experts at the things we were officially "experts" on, was also clued and flexible enough to help integrate our technologies with other operating systems, applications, platforms, networks, etc. What I see from these other consultants is people who barely know just the things they're "experts" on. If things go wrong with that software, they don't really know how to fix or recover from it. If the environment isn't exactly like they're used to, they have a hard time coping with it. If they need to do tasks that aren't strictly part of their expertness (i.e., anything not strictly the software they're managing), they're at a loss.

Ugh. SOOOoooo frustrating.

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