The Effect of On-Site Champions on Successful Engagements

A lot of things need to be in place for an engagement to be a raging success. When I say raging success, I’m talking about a home run; the type where the client can’t stop talking about how great the consultant was and the consultant never felt like it was work because it was so much darn fun.

Sure, proper planning, subject knowledge, and management buy-in are all important. But I want to focus on an aspect of successful projects that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. I’ve found that every raging success requires the presence of an on-site champion with the warrior spirit to get the project done. When I say on-site champion, I’m not talking about the manager who hired us. I’m also not talking about the CEO, who’s probably on board with the manager. I’m talking about a full-timer in the trenches who will be intimately involved with the project when Steffen Consulting is long gone.

This will probably be the on-site staffer who handles most of the transition.  In our engagement section we attempt to make the point about how much we care about the transition. The transition is a perfect barometer for how smoothly the project went. It’s a measure of how much we understood the underlying issue, how well we documented things, and how user-friendly we made the interface. This is helped along greatly if there is someone on-site with whom we can partner throughout the process to hammer out the gritty details.

The transition is also a measurement of our people skills. All of the knowledge, technical skills, and planning don’t matter if the client and the on-site champion can’t relate to each other. We know how tough it is to have a consultant in who asks questions, suggests changes, and pulls staff from their regular jobs. At Steffen Consulting we’ve negotiated this hurdle many times. We get over it by listening, by empathizing, by being patient, and by paying attention to the client’s corporate culture.

Be sure, we take as much pride in our soft skills as we do in our hard skills. Cultivating a great working relationship with the on-site champion and other members of the client staff is just as important as exchanging technical knowledge. We rely on both of these often disparate skill sets to get the job done right. We value each client relationship highly, but we pay special attention to the relationship with the on-site champion and work with all of our clients to identify this aspect of the engagement early in the process.