Consultant 2.0: from specialist to flexibilist

Ordering a headset online with your smartphone, receive it 5 days later on your holiday destination, pay with web based services and get help over the telephone in case of problems. These expectations of customers are daily reality for every retail company.

Al If you fall short of expectations, the client will simply go to your competitor. He will share negative reactions by means of his social media network and in the worst case he will post negative feedback on your own company website.

Redesign of CRM & ERP backbones
ERPWorldwide established retail companies are organized with CRM & ERP backbones (such as SAP or Oracle) that register the customer’s order and accomplish all logistic and financial activities from A to Z. The ERP-institutions, that were built more than 10 years ago mainly to support internal processes, have to be redesigned to meet the customer’s needs. Given the fact that these expectations are no longer written in stone and consequently change with the wind, the redesign is in need of a flexible project methodology.

Agile & Scrum offer a flexible project methodology

The Agile & Scrum methodology is a gradual approach to (re)build the system, test the functionality constantly and release it to the outside world in small pieces while waiting for feedback from customers. This change in ERP-projects has direct consequences for the profile of the consultant and the role of the recruiting company.

Business Analyst: from technical ERP expert to creative architect
The former role of a Business Analyst (BA) who documents the business requirements and converts them to technical specifications is reduced to a minimum. The business analyst has to be flexible in his mindset and be able to deal with changing and unsecure business requirements that can often be interpreted in a two-sided way. The analyst has to translate complex requirements into simple system settings and the design will be an ongoing process of redrawing again and again. The required skills of a BA change from a technical ERP expert to a creative architect with a broad online network to trust upon.

A developer creates flexible building stones
What the developer delivers - nowadays called ‘Code’- is constantly changing from owner and structure. ERP-codes are outsourced to offshore teams who work in the cloud and offer support 24/7. The knowledge of a developer changes into someone who creates flexible building stones which can be used in multiple and flexible ERP-institutions. This requires conceptual knowledge and brings the developer closer to the expectations of the customer. Web based services are released in small pieces and restyled after feedback of the customer is received.

Test consultant becomes unnecessary
The role of test consultant becomes unnecessary and has changed strongly the previous years because of thousands of end users with different insights, skills and expectations. These customers all like to give direct feedback to the developer himself. The conversation partners of the developers are no longer 21 inch screens but a group of users that speak Chinese – sometimes both literally as well as figuratively. A modern developer has to have an open mind, ready to share the ownership of the code with the outside world and be ‘mentally capable’ of changing his weekly deliveries after a long day of work. Even if the feedback to improve your code comes from a 15-year-old student who eats bits & bites for breakfast, the code from a developer for lunch and goes to bed with the idea that he has defeated the intellectual deliveries of a professional. Needless to say that these developer profiles have to be treated with respect and should be appreciated by their professional partners (their selection bureau).

Be flexible
TeamworkThis evolution requires adapted skills from a consultant who has to profile himself differently from everybody else. This means he doesn’t have to be a specialist but a ‘flexibilist’. “It is not the most intelligent of species that will survive, but the one who will adapt quickly to the changing circumstances”, so says Darwin. Given the fact that this will become the new standard, those who hold on to their old-fashioned, original job profiles will fall out of the market with or without grace.

Personal connection with the company

Selection bureaus play an important role in this structural change of profile requirements. The more the consultant and the selection bureau think in terms of this ongoing changing world of the company and its customer, the more companies will react with daily appreciation. This results in an optimized work environment (flexible hours/teleworking), a healthy financial situation (daily rates and payment conditions) and contentment in the working space. Moreover, it also guarantees a personal connection with the company.

Don’t expect to receive and e-mail saying “thank you for the past 6 months in our company and we’ll be seeing you” at the end of your project. You will receive a phone call from the headquarters in the US saying “Hello friend, the whole teams wishes to express its admiration for your work and the way in which you have treated our customers. Enjoy some quality time with your family and stay in touch because in a couple of months we would like to make an appeal on you for new projects that are coming up.”

Let’s be fair, this kind of feedback that you can share with family and friends during a well-deserved drink on a Friday afternoon – that’s what it’s all about, right?


Bron: Wim Coremans