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The Art of Process Consulting

The other day I was thinking about process consulting, and more specific what it takes to be a good process consultant. Going through a spectrum of thoughts and ideas, I have tried to list a few of these qualities that process consultant should possess in order to be a better professional if not the best, though best is what one should always aspire for.Process consulting is an art that has to be honed with practice and experience. There are many references to elephants in this column, this is purely incidental, Disclaimer : I did not watch a wildlife series before deciding to write this article.

Listen attentively don’t just hear

Too many process consultants think they know their trade and there is no need for them to listen to what the customer is saying, the consultants kind of pre-empt what the requirement is going to be, what improvement they are going to suggest and more often than not they lead the discussion in the direction of things they already know and are comfortable with, instead of paying attention and thinking ‘why’ does this requirement differ from other requirements? Let us treat each case differently. There is no one size fits all in the IT world.

Be Thick Skinned

Pachyderm is a word I would like to see in every process consultant’s dictionary. When process consultants try to create a new process or redesign an existing process they are suggesting a change in the manner of functioning that most people have got used to. As with every change there will be takers and there will be naysayers, one will face resistance and be mocked at or even ridiculed but those who patiently try to win over the naysayers will have the final laugh. People might turn down your proposals as “too good to be true” or unrealistic, nevertheless, pursue the changes and try to win over stakeholders and bring them to see your point of reasoning.

Don’t promise the moon

At the risk of sounding banal, I reassert that goals should be SMART ( Specific, Measurable, Achievable ,Realistic and Time bound). We fall in the trap of over-promising and under-delivering. A glitzy looking presentation with all promising numbers for ROI and other benefits at the start of the project may please everyone but when the ground work begins the hard reality begins to sink in. I suggest moving with incremental short steps at a time rather than preparing for one giant leap. Don’t try to eat the elephant at once.

Plan and plan well

An activity planned well guarantees half the success, the other half of the success lies in executing the plan well. Schedule, Risk, Cost, Quality all have to be factored in and accounted for meticulously before embarking on the journey. There is no substitute for project management skills unless you are superman.