Idea's space

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Posts Tagged ‘methodology

What is precisely a consultant?

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Team of consultants

Most of companies are contracting consulting services in different areas for specific needs, in IT, tax, finance, marketing..etc. They are using outsourced services for punctual needs, and because they have no in sourced people having the skills for these specific needs. During my career, I had to note that the word “consultant” was used for different type of profiles, and I would say in certain cases because it sounds better.

What’s precisely a consultant ? If I am asking that question, it is after reading a Peter Drucker’s quote saying that “ The true expert is the one who is doing the work. We must accept the fact that the one who is doing the job knows better about it that the one who is supervising, or in any case that he knows a different aspect about it”. It make me remember the first assignment I had as interim manager. We were two selected candidates for a senior accountant ad interim position. Finally, the customer decided to contract my services. The financial director who took the decision explained to me that he was more interested by my profile, because the other candidate was somebody who would explain how to do things, and in my case, I was the person able to do things. I remember a partner from a IT company where I worked some years ago, who used to say that he was not a consultant but a “practitioner”. This view meets Peter Drucker’s quote.

A consultant or an expert is somebody who has several years of experiences and who can give advices or execute missions and projects, based on the knowledges and the practices he acquired. If you ask to a consultant some advices about something he has some theoretical knowledge, you will probably not have an appropriate solution, and you will probably not learn more than if you have read some books about the subject. I remember a customer advised by a consulting company for an accounting software. The advised software did not match with the needs of the company, and the invoice that the consultant sent for the advice was ten times more expensive than the price of the software we had needed. The advice was given by a big consulting company, but I am not sure that the consultant did daily accounting during his career. More generally, there are different ways to obtain a result. But the result is not the only target to be taken into account. The way to reach the target is important. Processes in companies become more complex and need more expertise in order to control them. Some processes, methodologies will be more efficient than others. But only a expert having experiencing these processes will be able to give the appropriate advice. The different processes in a company include sub-processes, and improvements at each level can produce significant results in term of efficiency and profitability.

The most important is not to answer what is precisely a consultant, what are the range of services he is supposed to deliver. A consultant or an expert can only provide services linked to his experience and skills. The experience is another important parameter. In a fast moving environment, people have to adapt their methodology of work and their knowledges. The number of year of experience make that you integrates some processes or knowledge, and you can adapt yourself in a new environment faster than somebody having less experience, you can transpose more easily some methodologies in new environments.

What is precisely a consultant? In any case somebody who will provide the appropriate advices, answers or services to the customer and who will make him satisfied.

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Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

February 10, 2011 at 23:41

Technology and organization

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A time for each thing, each thing on his time.

Few months ago, I had a phone conversation with my tax consultant who was in a bad mood. He told me the difficulties he had to do his job, without being disturbed by phone calls every five minutes, by people asking why they have not yet received an answer to the mail they sent …..five minutes ago !

As I am used to say, technology is a revealer of lack of organization or non-organization. Technology is useful to help us to perform tasks or processes, but it does not replace the basics of organization. A tool helps us to perform a task, but do not condition the way we will do it. Let’s take the example of e-mails. E-mail is a revolutionary invention giving us the possibility to transmit information to everybody worldwide in a short time period. This way to send information is much faster than if you have to send it by post. Does it mean that you have to jump to your electronic mailbox each time you receive an e-mail? Are you checking every five minutes at home if the postman put some letters in your mailbox? As manager, I am not sure that your core business is to read and dispatch mails during all the day. A time for each thing, each thing on a time.

Most of the time, technology is seen as the solutions for nearly everything. Such confusion makes that the results level is not the one expected. Technology does not mean methodology. The methodology defines how you will perform a process, the technology is the tool you will use to perform the process by applying the appropriate methodology. If for instance, you have to perform the financial closing of a company, you will process to the closing operations following a determined methodology based on the elements in your books, and you will use an accounting software to proceed to these operations. To use an accounting software does not mean that you have not to learn accounting rules anymore.

Other example: you want to organize a meeting. By organizing this meeting through conference call will probably take less time and save money, than if the attendees of the meeting have to travel to a location, but it does not mean that you have not to prepare an agenda with the different points you want to discuss during the meeting. If you do not communicate any agenda before the meeting, the attendees are unable to prepare it and the time consumed will be a pure loss.

We have to be aware that technology is only a processing unit giving us the possibility to go faster and to achieve targets with higher results and better quality. Technology provides added value if the processes are clearly defined and if methodologies are implemented.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

September 14, 2010 at 19:10

A manager, mentor and creator of inspiring environments.

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A manager, a mentor and a creator of inspiring environment

All of us we probably remember a manager we were pleased to work with, giving us the opportunity to develop talents and to achieve goals. All of us, we can note that when we finished our studies, we only acquired basic knowledge in the discipline we choose. At that stage, things only begin. In an ongoing fast moving environment, we have to learn every day by acquiring useful experience.

What is precisely experience? An efficient experience is not only a range of accumulated performed tasks, but the realisation of projects and assignment with concrete results and the knowledge acquired through the processes. A part of the acquired knowledge is the result of our own question we are putting to ourselves, but also the shared experience and knowledge by our colleagues and managers.

Recently, I put a question about the criteria of a good job. Somebody underlined the fact to work in an inspiring environment as a criteria of motivation, environment where colleagues and managers want to share knowledge with each other, which means a real team spirit, environment where each member want to be part of a collaborative process, and consider only personal success with team success. Everybody can contribute to such environment, but it is the manager responsibility to create it and to make it work. A manager is responsible of a team, with people having several competences and capabilities. The point is to create an environment where the people can demonstrate their talents, and create more added value than the sum of the individual talents. It is important to create a collaborative process, a dynamic where each team member can share knowledge with all the team members, where the seniors can share their own experience and recommendation and teach the juniors. Here I am not only underlying the combination of competences in a team, but also the level of competence and experience of each member. The importance of a balance between seniors and juniors is critical, for the reason that as senior, we do not only acquire knowledge, but we developed also methodology of work through several experiences. Methodology is a key factor in a project, in an assignment. Knowledge answers to what I have to do, but methodology answers to how have I to do it.

The manager has to play a key role in the acquisition of methodology by his team members. It is obvious if he wants to delegate processes and see these processes done on an efficient way. He can reach such results if we share his own experience with his collaborator, giving them the opportunity to work autonomously. Personally, I remember managers advising me and contributing to make me important steps in productivity improvements. They gave me small tips giving influence on my career direction, revealing talents and capabilities.

I think that a manager has to be a mentor, has to inspire and to build inspired and enthusiastic teams. Considering the fact to share knowledge and information, he clearly subscribes to a sustainable and long terms view of the organisation. He clearly understands this quote of Peter Drucker: “We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.”

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

September 6, 2010 at 22:07