If you have ever worked for an IT consultancy business as well as a traditional employer, you would know that working for these two is of different nature. Working for a consultancy usually is more challenging and rewarding at the same time. Being a consultant, generally speaking, you work as a part of a team to help a client solve their specific business problems. Each time you go work for a new client, you might not have the same team members which you had on your previous project. Moreover, the nature of client’s business might be very different than the previous ones too.
For consultancy teams at a client site, majority of focus is not on the individual, rather it is on the team as a whole. Having worked on a few projects myself as a part of different teams, there are few things which I observed and personally feel that are very important for the team’s success.
(My) key ingredients of a successful IT consultancy team:
- Technical and philosophical alignment
- Shared understanding and learning
- Unity and coherence
- Thought Leadership
- Continuous communication
Technical and philosophical alignment
Successful teams are technically and philosophically aligned both within themselves and with the client; latter always being the tougher of the two. Philosophically, team members should feel a common and meaningful sense of purpose behind the project they work on. Similarly if a team is technically aligned, selecting a solution or an approach to handling the business problems becomes easier. This alignment promotes unity and coherence among the team members which helps team succeed(I’ll discuss this separately in the next post). This alignment should be analysed right at the start of the project. And then should be maintained throughout the project life.
Shared understanding and learning
Great teams always have a shared understanding of the business problem they are trying to solve. Having all team members on the same page really helps the team in properly understanding and then thinking an optimal solution for the project. Similarly, each team member shares their learnings with the team so that team’s knowledge repository can grow at the required pace.
Another major benefit of shared understanding and learning is that whenever a stakeholder approaches any consultant from that team, they will get the same answers as another consultant would have given them. It’s an ongoing process and teams should be maintaining their shared understanding and learning throughout the project life.
Unity and coherence
I have seen teams succeed in very tough situations because of their unity and coherence. On the other hand, I have also seen teams fail in simple environments due to the lack of unity and coherence. I often think of team members as soldiers and the business problem as a strong enemy. Having said that, the best tool for these soldiers to win the war against a strong enemy is: unity and coherence.
When it comes to making tough choices on tightly deadlined projects, this strength promotes group decision making. And I’m not saying that decisions made as a group always work out well. It’s just that even if seems to be not working, team members do not blame each other for the outcome, rather they work unanimously in handling the situation.
Consultants are considered subject matter experts and thought leaders. Due to their variety of work experiences, successful team members provide optimal solutions for business problems and share their learnings from the previous similar experiences, if any. They are also up-to-date on the industry trends and aware of latest tools and technologies.
Lastly, successful consultancy teams continuously communicate with all the project stakeholders. In my experiences when all team members and stakeholders are not kept informed about the project progress or the blockers at special, it can easily spread negativity. And that’s the last thing you would want to have on a project. There are various platforms for teams to share their message. These include: daily stand-up, sprint planning meeting, story / iteration kickoff, showcase etc.
Hope you enjoyed reading my article. Until next time, Cheers folks.