Five tips: Do better for yourself – and your clients
Not long ago, we were exclusively traditional IT management consultants billing by the hour.
In IT consulting, you see too many clients fail. I’m happy to report that we have delivered every project in our history, on time and on budget. That is because we are special
We saw a pattern: A customer wanted to address a problem. They’d try to come up with a solution that didn’t rock the boat too much. Then they’d buy a shiny new piece of tech or software because the person selling it had convinced them it was just the ticket. Strangely, the reality of an actual IT operation doesn’t look anything like a pristine demo environment.
Yes, that was my dry British sense of humour you heard. I digress…
All too often, products don’t deliver as expected. Many times it was not a failing of the product alone, politics and operational challenges play a big role. The net effect is that too many projects failed and at significant cost.
We thought there had to be a better way to do things.
So we took a deep breath and changed our entire business model. Instead of selling smart people’s time by the hour, or deliverable, we now sell valuable IT insights via a fixed-cost managed service that shields our customers from the complexities of implementing and managing our proprietary software. We still give them access to smart people, it just costs a lot less because we are applying technology that shrinks a very specific problem – allowing clients to mine their own IT data to produce customized business insights.
But we’ve learned a few things along the way.
- You have to understand the problem you want to solve.
From our work as traditional consultants, we came to see that too many IT projects were failing, and too many customers were not getting as much value from their IT as they should. We also came to see that they would get better value and reduce the financial risk with the predictable costing provided by a service than by consultants billing by the hour. We perceived this as a real problem.
- You have to understand current conditions – in reality, not just theory.
We took time to do a hard and serious analysis of the situation for businesses we were trying to help. Years, not months.
- You have to set realistic milestones.
No one becomes Microsoft or Shopify overnight. We set milestones based on our understanding of the problem, the current conditions, and our own capacity to deliver.
- You have to be tenacious but focused.
Moving from consultants to sellers of a service has been hard. But if you believe in yourself and your vision, it will help carry you through tough days. Multiple tough days… including those we have not met yet.
- You have to be able to pivot.
We did. And if the situation changes significantly because of some new factor, we’ll pivot again.
We’ve been able to hold our own fears at bay because our actions are based on values we hold dear. We won’t do things just because a client wants us to do them; we do them because it’s the right thing to do. This is a life outlook, not just a business outlook.
I want RAPA Insight to succeed.
But more than that, I want to live my life with no regrets. I don’t want to wake up one morning and wonder what would have happened if we hadn’t taken that deep breath and leapt.
So far, I’m enjoying the ride… blue skies and turbulence, it’s all part of the journey.
Susan Odle is chief operating officer and managing partner at RAPA Consulting. She has been in enterprise IT for over two decades, is ITIL Foundation V3.5 certified, enjoys anything outdoors with family and music (playing, singing and listening).
Picture Javier Morales