Monday, April 18, 2005

The joys of being a consultant

If there's something constant throughout my career as a consultant is that more often than not I'd be bullshitting a customer about my current work until I had enough time to go and check how things *should* be done.

I call that "Creative Consulting".

Today I must have had one of my best performances ever regarding some of my XSD files. Let's just say that I have no clue why they were working, but hey, if it's not broken don't fix it, right?

Well, they weren't exactly working in this case. Hence the reason for my creativity to be put under stress.

But it worked. And I've now checked out how it should be done. And it's in the mail. And it kind of confirms what I told the customer during my creative consulting session.

Which brings me to another topic that also defines the fine line between Consultants and Great Consultants: it doesn't matter how good you are, but how good people think you are. Those of you who know me might recognise that sentence, as I have been using it for the better part of my life (and looking better than I really am, some will argue) :-D.

Of course, you must have enough knowledge to back up your claims, but you don't need to be a guru to be considered one.

So, when everything goes wrong, make sure your documentation is perfect. I mean, spotless. Abuse visio drawings. Use UML (those who don't know it are always impressed). Choose nice, modern fonts that are easy to read on screen. Make sure you have an "Executive Summary", at the latest, by the 4th page and that it is no longer than 1 page. Include an Excel graph on it. I mean ALWAYS include an Excel graph on it. If really not possible, a visio drawing then. It must have a strong visual element or managers will not read it.

The end result of doing this is that managers will always defend you. Someone who can make such good documentation can not possible be wrong, can he? ;-)

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