You have just negotiated a huge contract for your company. The accolades have been coming in, fast-and-furious. However, before you are done soaking it all in, you receive an email from your superior to the effect that you have been chosen as the lead implementation consultant of the service you have just sold.
Your brief is simple: assist the client in implementing the product or service you have just sold them. With a smile on your face, you respond, ‘Sure, it will be my pleasure’, and off to the client you go.
But, what does an implementation consultant bring on the table? There are a number of services you should expect, or even demand, from an implementation consultant. Before you allow an implementation consultant to work with you, you need to be certain that they have the requisite qualifications and experience. At the minimum, a knowledge of business analysis is critical for success in this role.
It is also critical that you fully understand the role of an Implementation Consultant, which includes the following:
1. Managing Conflict
During project implementation, conflicts invariably occur. In most cases, these are due to misunderstandings between the supplier and the client. When a customer demands services not included in the contract, this could result in conflict. To make sure the service meets the expectation of a client, an implementation consultant should be able to analyze and advise the client on what is reasonable without spoiling the business relationship already established.
In most cases, such conflicts are resolved amicably when an implementation consultant understands what a particular implementation requires in spite of what a client says they want. To avoid or manage conflict, an implementation consultant should strike a balance between the expectations of a client and the actual reality of a project from a supplier’s perspective.
2. Configuration versus Customization
Before configuring or customizing a system, an implementation consultant must first understand the client’s requirements. They should then recommend the best way to implement the product or service. Attempting to make architectural provisions for every conceivable gap is one of the biggest mistakes an implementation consultant can make. Instead, they should address those gaps through ‘configuration’ and not by ‘customization’.
For instance, with configuration, you can make changes without rewriting the code or having to rebuild the executables. To the contrary, customization may involve rewriting the code with a view to customizing the application to align it with a client’s processes and existing infrastructure.
3. Configuring Business Processes
When a customer buys a product or a solution, they expect it to address or align with their business processes. The value of the new solution or product, therefore, will depend on its ability to improve a business’s operations. However, the new product or solution has its logical process that will survive its lifespan. It can change the way a business operates.
An implementation consultant should be able to guide a client on how they can optimize the use of the new product or solution by configuring it to address the specific needs and requirements of the client. If the new product or solution calls for a change in business processes, an implementation consultant should explain this change and offer to help the client implement it.
The role of an implementation consultant is critical for the successful implementation of a product or solution. As a business analyst, you should be able to effectively guide the implementation of the new system. At the end of the day, an implementation consultant’s role is to analyze the environment within which the new product or solution will operate and recommend how to implement it in a way that does not severely disrupt a business’s processes. Where the new solution or product calls for drastic changes in terms of business processes, the consultant should provide guidance and direction to ensure its seamless implementation.