Seven Deadly Sins of Consulting, Part 1.

You have probably heard your parents or grand-parents talk about when they were younger and how they had to walk to school, up hill both ways.  When they shared this story with you it was to prepare you for times when things weren’t so easy and to provide you with their knowledge and advice from their hard earned experience. I wish that someone would have shared the list below with me earlier in my career.  It might have saved me a few grey hairs and sleepless nights.  I have to admit, I have been guilty of a couple of these in the past, but that’s why it’s called experience.

1. Bill for time not worked.  This will be the quickest way to end up out of a consulting gig. Make sure you bill the client only for the time you actually work. This can be tricky if your clients are friends. When you go to a job like this, you know there will be a period of time spent socializing, especially when you first arrive. Don’t bill for this time. Start the billing period when you start working.  Sometimes clients will have celebrations during the day.  If you don’t want to appear anti-social, by not going, just don’t bill.  If there are any questions, ask the account manager to find out. If you are the account manager, ask your client manager at one of your one to one meetings if it’s ok to bill.  Some client’s have a culture where that is part of the expectation.

2. Negotiate rates and make deals with the client.  If you work for a consulting firm, you know there are channels for clients to go though to make requests..  Most firms have some sort of account manager to handle those issues.  Direct the client to the account manager.  I had one consultant that actually went so far as to look in the client’s AP system to see how much we were getting paid and then wanted to negotiate a higher rate with the client.  This particular action did not end well for the consultant and he has not been able to be considered for other assignments in this client even when his skill set was ideal.  Never, ever work out a side deal or moonlight with a client this can comprise your integrity and jeopardize the trust between  you, the consulting company and inevitably the client.

3. Act like a prima donna.  Yes, you’re good, that’s why you have been hired. I actually heard a consultant tell the client that their employees were stupid.  Hello? You are there to serve those employees.  You don’t know what kind of constraints they have had to work with.  Hind sight is always 20-20.  Its always far better to politely make suggestions. You may find out your brilliant idea was considered previously and there was a very valid reason for it not being implemented.  It’s much better to NOT have egg on your face or your foot in your mouth.

4. Miscommunicate or undercommunicate when engaged at a client I believe that the client should know what is going on with their project.  Many times I have had to be the bearer of bad news.  I also like weekly status reports to let the client know what I have worked on and what I’m planning on doing.  If at all possible I like to let them know a percent complete.  Years ago, I heard another consultant tell the client he was “unit testing”.  The client assumed that meant he had all the functionality done and was testing.  The reality was he had about 10% of the functionality done and was testing just that one small piece.  When the truth came out, it was not pretty.

Tomorrow I will finish off the last 3 sins.
To be continued……