3 Lessons Learned in My First Years of Consulting
by Amanda Wilkie, Consultant
It’s hard for me to believe, but I recently celebrated my second anniversary as a consultant. Moving from CIO at a Top 30 firm to consulting has been an exciting transition. Since so many accounting professionals are making a shift from being compliance-focused to become more consultative, I thought I’d share some reflections from my last two years.
Subject matter expert vs. facilitator
As a CIO, my role was 100% strategic-focused subject matter expert. The firm expected me to drive change and process improvement through innovative technology solutions. As a consultant, sometimes I’m the subject matter expert, and sometimes I’m the facilitator.
When I go out on a Technology Consulting engagement, I’m the subject matter expert. The firm is leaning on me to analyze their existing technology ecosystem and make recommendations that will help the firm align its technology with the firm’s strategic goals.
But it’s a whole different story when I go on a Lean Six Sigma engagement. In that case, nobody knows the firm’s processes like the people who perform them every day. As a consultant, I don’t know what the problems are until I’ve spent time talking to people, learning about their processes and needs. Rather than telling them what needs to be done, I help them map out their existing processes, evaluate what is and isn’t working, and identify improvements that are customized to the firm, its people and its culture.
As a consultant, I need to be agile enough to shift between those two roles between engagements and even within the same engagement.
Consulting is a team sport
In our work at Boomer Consulting, Inc., we have consultants who specialize in talent, technology, process, growth and leadership. But we all appreciate the connection between these areas. An accounting firm has people who specialize in auditing, client accounting services, tax, technology and more, and your team collaborates to deliver the services your clients need.
Consultants don’t have to be experts in every one of those areas, but they do need to build relationships with their team. Your team members are your bench who will support you when clients need assistance in areas outside of your expertise.
As your firm develops its niches, it’s crucial to understand the profession you’re serving, not just your own role in serving that niche. It helps you become a better consultant. But you can’t be an expert in all things. Strengthen relationships with your team, be a resource for them, and call on them when you need help. Nobody expects you to have all the answers, but you should know where to find them.
Consulting is about the long game
As a technical expert in an accounting firm, you likely spend a lot of time focused on billable work. But in consulting, it’s less about every minute being billable and more about the long-term payoffs.
Consultants spend much of their time building their thought leadership: speaking, writing, and even sharing our own content and the content of others on social media. We read a lot to widen our perspective of a particular niche or industry. We work on building relationships and networking.
If a consultant only reaches out to their clients or their network when they’re looking for additional business, that’s not the foundation for a good long-term relationship. Consulting work doesn’t lend itself to hourly billing. The value you provide has nothing to do with how long it takes you to do it, and a lot of your time will be spent on developing thought leadership and building relationships.
It feels like it’s been two weeks since I joined Boomer Consulting, Inc., rather than two years. I was lucky enough to be a part of the Boomer Circle communities before I made the switch to consulting, so I had the opportunity to learn from talented and experienced consultants in a peer networking setting before becoming one myself.
Are you looking for a clear path to take you from compliance to consulting?
The Boomer Certified Consultant Training program helps accounting professionals build on their current successes and get proven strategies to become a true consultant and thought leader in their niche. If you’d like more information on the Boomer Certified Consultant Training program, contact Megan Bloomfield at firstname.lastname@example.org or schedue a call Today!
Amanda Wilkie, Consultant at Boomer Consulting, Inc., has a computer science background, but she’s not your average geek. With two decades of technology experience, Amanda has spent 13 years driving change and process improvement through innovative technology solutions working across firms of varying sizes in the public accounting profession. She has held strategic leadership positions in firms ranging from Top 50 to Top 10 including her most recent role as CIO of a Top 30 firm. Amanda is a recognized expert in the profession who regularly speaks and writes on blockchain and cryptocurrency and their impact on the profession.