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What separates good consultants from great consultants

It’s very common to hear the term “Best Practices” thrown around in the consulting space.

It’s very common to hear the term “Best Practices” thrown around in the consulting space. The term has become an accumulative anchor for not having to recreate the wheel so to speak. The idea being that clients who come later should benefit from what has been learned from proceeding efforts. That may not be what proceeding clients would like to hear, but it is an aggregated reality. These major software efforts aren’t without their pain. So, when someone flippantly says, “The software will do anything you want it to do,” they are running contradictory to the definition of Best Practices. Saying something along those lines is the easy way out and puts the onus back on the client.

Good consultants, experienced consultants, will typically provide clients with a few viable solutions based on what they know about the specific client and their cumulative knowledge of how the software operates in a business application. This is true consulting and can only be applied when a consultant is truly experienced. Good consultants are solid in their knowledge and typically have a wide range of experiences to pull from. So, what separates the good from the great? What makes someone an A+ consultant and someone else a B+?

Having been in this space for 26 years, I have witnessed characteristics that tend to separate the good from the great. While the good can be solid in the knowledge, intelligent, experienced, and have work ethic, they can lack in other all-important areas. We used to have a saying that affective consulting comes down to aptitude and attitude, with attitude being the 80 percent. You can teach someone aptitude, but attitude is self-taught. It’s inherent to the person and it’s the difference between good and great… It’s the ability to adapt and thrive in virtually any situation, under any circumstance. 

Great consultants become symbiotically beloved and indispensable by client team members. They become one with the team and true leaders within the team. Essentially, they are like an expert within the team and 100 percent committed to the greater cause. They have the confidence and finesse needed to overcome virtually any situation whether it be personalities, partner dynamics, timelines, tasks, setbacks, steering committee meetings, or helping with the granular aspects of the software. They can scale in virtually any direction and can do it in an instant. At the end of the day, they have cheery “Can Do” attitudes and will do anything to keep the project on time, within budget, and ensure the staff is adequately trained. When they depart the project, the client is satisfied and confident in the software’s functionality, their overall implementation, and their training. 

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