Or how to keep your sanity as a Technical Consultant!
The above are of course tongue in cheek (as is the picture below)!
Image: The Omniscient Technical God!
I’ve felt like writing this article for a while now – not necessarily because I see myself as being a good IT Consultant, and certainly not a role model – more of, simply my take on things from observations of the good, the bad, and the ugly.
First things first, being an IT Consultant is a lifestyle choice. IT is constantly changing, new products entering the field, and the only way to keep up is to have a passion for the change and the constant learning. Whilst other people might do the 9 to 5, you’ll be working 24/7 (yes, even in your dreams) thinking about technology, and trying – in vain most of the time – to become the omniscient technical god. Expect to be busy. Of course, no one can be expected to know everything, it’s okay to say “I’ll find out for you” or phone a friend (ask for help.) All at the same time remembering, there is more to life than work (loved ones are especially important,) and don’t take life too seriously.
Another thing about being an IT Consultant is that you’ll definitely need a sense of humour. IT Consultants live by making changes, improving existing systems and IT infrastructures (or at least trying to), and there’s always a chance something might not go as planned. If you fear making changes, and potentially breaking something, then this is not the job for you. That said, IT Consultants, besides what comes with their experience, will do a lot of research before making any changes, back things up beforehand so can roll back in the event of the unexpected, everything possible to minimise potential risk, but there’s always going to be the stressful situations where something will throw a curveball into the mix, and the sense of humour will help you survive those times.
Integrity is massively important. If you see something done wrong (even by a colleague before you), you need to handle the situation and get it fixed, even if it means delaying the project. The most important thing with any successful consultancy is that we’re improving things, not creating problems for future generations to fix. If you make a mistake you have to be honest about it. Honesty and integrity go hand in hand – a good consultant is no cowboy, it’s not good enough just to get something working, it’s got to be done right, and done so that it won’t all fall to pieces after you leave site.
Then there’s the travel. There’ll be a lot of it.
Also, there’s the people side. Consultancy is all about talking to people, listening, trying to understand, and helping them. You have to like people. You have to like to ask questions – asking clients good questions is what it’s all about in trying to reach a high level of understanding. You don’t necessarily have to be a talkative person, taking a genuine interest is all that’s required for the questions to flow. Also, you’re their servant. There’s tact and diplomacy added in too.
Finally, you’re paid a wage (unless you have the good fortune to work for yourself) and “people who pay me always have the right to tell me what to do” . Sometimes, you’ll need to adopt a “let me at ‘em” ‘Scrappy Power’ attitude (from Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo). Learn to take the rough with the smooth. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. And, humanity and humility are very important.
Well, if anyone’s read this far – if so, thank you very much, I certainly didn’t expect it from the ramblings of a slightly eccentric bod – you’ll be pleased to know there’s some further reading, see below!