All Consultants Are The Same, Right?
In part two of his article, a Zone Leader talks about differentiators that are inherit within quality service providers.
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Last month, I published the "Considering Offshoring? Consider These Lessons Learned" article, which provided five lessons that I have learned when attempting to employ offshore or nearshore services to assist with development efforts. One of those learned lessons reminded us that:
"Service providers exist to provide services for their clientele. At the core, they are doing it as a means to generate revenue."
As a reader of this article, one might pose the question...
"Aren't all professional service providers (not just offshore/nearshore providers) in this industry for this very same reason ... to maxime revenue?"
This article is intended to provide an answer to this question.
Yes They Are ... (However)
Indeed, a professional services firm is not successful if they are not generating revenue. Those billable hours not only cover the costs and expenses to maintain employment for the individual performing the service, they also cover the costs to maintain the organization and infrastructure required to run a professional services organization. For those publicly-traded service providers or those with private investors, some level of return is expected for their investment.
But that answer differs in the services received from what I would refer to as "quality service providers."
Consider these three differentiators that are inherit within a quality service provider.
#1 - They Truly Care
A quality service provider becomes engaged with the effort of work — acting as an extension to the team or organization employing their services. In some cases, their level of dedication and focus toward providing the best solution is at a higher level than the internal resources participating on the project. In short, quality service providers truly care about the client and the success of the endeavor underway.
One example can be found when the service provider is given a list of tasks to perform. While some service providers will complete each task as expected, quality service providers take a deeper approach to understand aspects that may not be part of the acceptance criteria. They are apt to challenge design decisions which present concerns.
Experience has proven that a story/ticket/to-do item is only as good as the details provided within. A quality service provider realizes this and looks to gain an understanding at the real need at hand — since such an understanding can help avoid challenges that could be introduced by merely executing against a list of steps.
This also includes putting on a "production support hat" on a routine basis, allowing them to always keep in mind how easy the delivered solution will be to support. Simply executing against a list of expected tasks can yield a solution which is challenging to support, once the feature, application, or solution is delivered for use.
#2 - They Aren't All About the Money
While all service providers are expected to generate income, quality service providers are not focused on maximizing revenue. As a result, what I refer to as the "bait and switch" approach is never at play.
Quality service providers are not focused on winning the project by bringing a team of experts to the table, only to hand off the actual work to those with little or no experience in order to maximize the profit for each hour billed to the client.
In fact, when quality service providers introduce less-skilled workers into a project, they do so with honesty and integrity — most of the time with a far lower hourly bill rate. Everyone understands that skills and abilities vary among workers participating in a project. As a result, the expectation is that a fair rate is attributed to each worker actually performing the work at hand.
#3 - They Have Worn the Client's Shoes
A quality service provider understands the client's point of view, because they have walked in the client's shoes during their career. This is no different than why professional sports broadcasters employ former athletes to provide the color commentary during games. The understanding maintained from being a part of a situation far outweighs simply observing from the outside.
Quality service providers maintain staff that have spent time in their careers working in positions similar to those who are employing their services. As a result, understanding corporate politics, support needs, and corporate interactions are at top of mind as a result of their direct experience.
When selecting a service provider without such experience, the effort of work being tossed to some unknown resource becomes more of a binary effort with no focus on any other aspect outside what is written directly on the task at hand. As such, the "you get what you pay for" principle is very much at play.
Would You Take the Same Approach With Your Health?
I remember watching the sitcom "The King of Queens" and an episode called "Sight Gag" where one of the main characters was in need of vision surgery. The character left her spouse in charge of picking the surgeon and the facility to do the critical work on her eyes. Well, the surgery did not go well.
When she asked her spouse how he found that doctor and facility, he mentioned that he picked the "Vision Village" because he had a "half off the second eye" coupon. He opted to pick saving money over finding a quality service provider. The end result was a disaster.
You can watch the scene from the episode here:
If interested, the full episode can be found at the link below:
While this an episode from a fictional television program, this reality matches what can happen when you opt to select a service provider that doesn't line up with the quality expectations that should exist when employing consultancy services.
Being part of a quality service provider is something that has always been at the top of my list every time I have worked in a professional services role. In fact, my current employer, CleanSlate Technology Group, has a reputation for being a quality service provider in each of the three differentiators I noted above:
We strive to always be fully engaged with our projects — demonstrating the highest degree of dedication toward the success of the project.
We will always place the right workers on our projects — establishing an agreed upon rate which benefits all parties involved.
We have spent a large percentage of our careers in corporate positions, walking in the same shoes our clients are currently utilizing.
This reputation extends back as far as twenty years, when several of us started working together earlier in our careers... at another quality service provider.
While CleanSlate Technology Group will always maintain this focus, we are not the only corporation in the professional services taking this approach. Across the globe there are similar consultancies with the same heart and goals — all willing and ready to provide services to meet the needs of the customer.
Solution providers like CleanSlate Technology Group are not hard to find... you just need to look for the differentiators. Hopefully, this article provides some insight on what to look for and what to expect.
Have a really great day!
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