Today I read a couple of blog posts concerning the qualities to look for in Consultants. The first blog titled “Top 10 Qualities Of A Great Consultant
” listed Does the consultant have non-profit experience
as the first quality. I was ready to fire off my reply, but as I kept reading I realized that this was written for the non-profit sector. The second blog titled “10 Qualities To Look For When Hiring Consultants
” listed several qualities that would be very difficult to “look for” prior to hiring the consultant. It would be very difficult to pose questions during an interview to gage the Consultant’s A Penchant for Facts, Sift and Filter Out, Think Ahead, Precision, Self Discipline or Honest to a Fault
. Also if you do not need the consultant to fulfill a leadership role within the organization or IT business solutions team then Leadership is not a quality to look for in applicants.
My colleague, Jeff Welsh, wrote a two piece blog
on the "Seven Deadly Sins of Consulting
", in which he notes the seven things that a Consultant should never do when engaged at a client. A lot of them are common sense things and some of them come from experience. After reading all these blogs, I have compiled a list of qualities to look for in applicants for a BA role within your organization. Questions can be formed during an interview to help gage the applicant’s ability in these areas.
1. Depth and breadth of experience and knowledge
A review of the resume/CV will show the applicant’s prior work experience. The more senior, critical or strategic activities you wish the consultant to perform, the greater work experience and knowledge you will want the consultant to have. Also, ensure the consultant’s work experience is relevant to the tasks you will ask the consultant to perform. Such as, if you are implementing a new ERP package, find a consultant that has done ERP implementation projects. 2. Dedication to profession and work
The BA Consultant should have great dedication to the BA profession and to his/her own work. A consultant that stays abreast of BA resources, keeps up-to-date on training and/or has achieved BA certification is showing dedication to the profession. Every business person should take great pride in their work and deliverables. The BA Consultant is no different.3. Excellent communication skills and interpersonal savvy
Effective communication is essential for Consultants. Oral and written communication skills are a necessity. Communication to the client should be relevant and timely. Miscommunication and Under communication to the client tend to shorten your stay at the client. One of the posts noted above stated “Honest to a Fault”. Sometimes, blunt honesty backfires and cause greater issues. Finesse and tact should always be practiced when handling sensitive issues. 4. Customer focused
All Consultants, including BA Consultants, should always be focused on delivering value to the customer. During the interview probe the Consultant’s commitment to the customer. 5. Results oriented
The BA Consultant should be dedicated to delivering results. If the applicant’s resume/CV does not show their achievements and results then probe the Consultant’s dedication to adding value and delivering results in a timely manner during the interview.6. Can see the “big picture” and work in the details
Having the “big picture” view, knowing how your activities fit into that picture, and then being able to work in the details of your activities is truly an art. Consultants are often asked to perform the tedious tasks, such as research and document activities that require hours of repeating processes. It is not glorifying or high-profile work, but necessary to be completed. Being able to go beyond customer expectations doing these kinds of tasks is a way to prove your value to the client. While working in the details, not taking your eyes off the big picture and ensuring that decisions are made that keep the big picture in tact is also an art.7. Team player
Personality conflicts are always detrimental to the team unity. Bringing on Consultants that do not work well with the team causes people management issues and divert resources to handle those personality conflicts rather than more productive activities. Derogatory comments about other consultants, or worse the client’s employees, is a fast track to causing team conflict. As Jeff puts it “don’t be a prima donna”.8. Creative thinking
Sometimes solutions to complex business problems require the ability to leap beyond conventional thinking. They require creative solutions that require creative and conceptual thinking. Situational questions can devolve the Consultant’s ability to “think out of the box”. 9. Personal organization
Being personally organized helps deliver results sooner. Having to continually search for documentation or other items can be a great waste of time. Being able to remember meeting appointments and being on time to meetings show a good degree of personal organization.10. Dependable
Being where you are suppose to be at the time you’re suppose to be there is a great attribute for Consultants. Being punctual really is greatly appreciated by the client, so when you are going to be late to work or an appointment communicate the delay. That too is appreciated.
So if you are responsible to bring in consultants to help your IT business solutions staff you have some guidelines to look for when determining who to bring in to complete your IT staffing. If you are a BA Consultant make sure you exceed customer expectations in the areas above and you will have a satisfied customer.