Consulting Best PracticesManagement

Leveraging Priorities for Your Client

If you are working in a healthy-sized consultancy and are hired on to support a client on a project, the odds are actually good that the consultancy is supporting the client with multiple endeavors simultaneously. The best consultants manage their own projects while also keeping an eye on the rest of the portfolio. In a post at Consulting 101, Lew Sauder describes how managing wide priorities can be a help to you.

Wants and Needs

Everyone has their own priorities, but it will be to your advantage if you at least learn what those priorities are among your colleagues. Sauder provides an example of the benefits of keeping abreast of the big picture with a client:

… say you are on a project that is developing a software application. This application is scheduled to eventually provide value to their stakeholders in several months. But a production issue occurs on one of your client’s existing software applications which is impeding their ability to serve their stakeholders. You and your team have skills that could help them resolve the production issue.

You could argue that you need to stay focused on your own project. That is what you were hired to do. But if you have some skills that could help your client resolve the issue, it might benefit your client, as well as your firm, to help out. It may set your project back, causing additional work. But your client may appreciate your sacrifice. And the goodwill you create could be paid back many times over.

Sometimes, teams’ priorities will not align with yours much at all, potentially posing a difficult situation when you need their assistance. It is wise to keep an eye out for risks like these too. Sauder describes an example of learning that a client’s infrastructure team had a reputation for being uncooperative, so he made a point to do unsolicited favors for them in order to build good will. As a result, Sauder’s client’s division received better service from the infrastructure team.

Ultimately, what you might find is that business priorities and office politics are two sides of the same coin. And since one hand washes another, always be looking for how you can help other people accomplish their priorities. They will be inclined to return the favor.

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