I used to work with great and not so great consultants in my previous jobs. I was the client, I decided the specifications, I explained and then I let the consultants do their work. This was my modus operandi. I did not have time for more and I would not settle for less. Some consultants understood and our projects were always successful while others did not and wanted to impose their way of working. We only worked together once.
Now that I am on the other side, I can see how difficult it is to gain some clients’ respect. I have come up with the following rules that I call the double 07 rules. This is in reference to James, James Bond but it also covers what I consider being the basis of any respectful relationship.
The double 07 rules:
As a consultant:
- – always be professional. Make sure you obey to the general code of conduct. Do not put yourself at risk as it could follow you throughout your career.
- – be knowledgeable. Ensure you are always a step ahead of the trend. Add value to your client by preparing them for the next steps.
- – be available within reason. Outside weekends and business hours, make sure you are available. Establish an emergency procedure so clients can reach you.
- – be on time (delivery and meetings). Even if all cultures manage time differently, make sure that your professionalism is about being on time and deliver as planned.
- – be resourceful. Always be able to find resources (human, information, website, niche areas…) in all circumstances. Do not think these resources could replace you, you call upon them to complete your services.
- – be on budget. Make sure that what you and your client have agreed is delivered and this includes the financial budget.
- – be approachable. Ensure that everyone involved in your project on the client site can approach you (junior or senior). You will be able to get better support from everyone.
Your client should:
- – Respect you. If you feel or realize that your client does not respect you (payment, resources, the way they talk to you, the way they behave…) make sure you immediately tell them and if this is repeated, end the relationship as soon as possible.
- – Stick to the budget and plan. Your responsibility to your client is to deliver as per the plan and on budget, Ensure this is the same on your client’s side. Late payments and late delivery of information will have a negative impact on your project. If this happens, allow it once, not more!
- – Respect your project (do not extend it or reduce it). Make sure your client does not change the rules in the middle of the project. Projects are normally approved for a certain amount of time, your client cannot change the timing after you start.
- – Not change team and goals in the middle. As per timing, team and objectives of the project cannot be changed after the start. Your role is to ensure this does not happen.
- – Treat you as they would treat an employee (within business hours and following the company code of conduct). You are not an employee however you should expect equal treatment.
- – Remember that there is no hierarchy involved just a specific contract. As a consultant, you do not have a boss, just a client. Do not play politics, be transparent and honest at all times.
- – Remember that once your contract is accomplished, you are free – so communicate as much as possible to explain to your customer to either have a plan B or plan ahead as you need visibility for possible future contracts.
Being a consultant has many advantages for both the consultant and client. Some projects, when the double 07 rules are respected, go very well and benefit both parties. However, if either breaks the rules, then in general the project fails and the consultant loses a customer. It is very important for the consultant to ensure he/she enforces the rules as it is better to lose a customer than to let a relationship go sour. It will be impossible to recover from a bad project and both the client and the consultant could lose energy, money and resources in trying to fix a situation.
I hope this is helpful. For some, it will be music to your ears for others, it could be difficult as the economical pressure is high. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.