Lessons Learned: The Value of Experience in Consulting and Choosing the Right Partner

I’ve been in the consulting space, in one way or another, for far longer than I care to admit. Suffice it to say; I’ve grown increasingly uncomfortable with the number of college Seniors who were still in diapers when I first became a consultant. While I echo the sentiment of J.M. Barrie in that “I’m not young enough to know everything”, there have been some important lessons I’ve learned over the years that have become the foundation of what I look for in an employer and the expectations I set for my teams.

First, consulting is a relationship business. Be yourself! While I don’t exclude myself from the pool of consultants who have made this mistake, it’s important to remember that there is no real “consultant” persona. It’s something you do, not who you are. When it comes down to it, your role is to help a customer achieve an outcome. This goal does not require speaking in airport codes or obtaining a certain loyalty status. It certainly does not require you to have all the answers. It does demand that you be honest with customers and put their needs before your ego. That you understand you can’t possibly have all the answers (and you shouldn’t). Lastly, that you aren’t paid to be right; you are paid to get it right.

Second, and tangentially related, avoid the person with an answer to every question. True wisdom comes with experience. Experience comes with failure. There is no shortcut. Logically, it’s possible to grasp many things in life, but many situations must be experienced to be understood (looking at you baby-induced sleep deprivation).

So why the life lessons Dr Phil? At Black Diamond, our motto is “Experts Only”. We believe this so thoroughly that if you go to the Black Diamond website, the first menu you will see is “Our Experts” followed by “Our Team”. I’ll wait, go check it out. Cool right? When I was given the opportunity to come to Black Diamond to bring to life a next-generation managed services offering, this very fact swayed me to leave an ecosystem in which I had seen success and take on a new challenge. In fact, I looked at every partner I could think of in this space and the past ecosystems I had worked in and could not find another example.

The amount of experience within the Black Diamond hive mind shows itself throughout the organization. You’ll see it when a consultant tells you they want to discuss a specific use case with our COE to confirm their thinking. Also, when you understand how our Summit program has been developed and staffed in a way that fosters efficient communication and quality work through flexibility methodology and a level of expectation that matches the rest of our consultant ranks.

The most tangible place you will see this is in the quality of our Utility Bundle. These products help augment your OneStream experience in ways that are rooted in countless customer engagements and management of our OneStream instance. We’ve built these tools based on experience, wisdom, and sometimes lessons learned from failure. Additionally, the managed nature of thecode base ensures quality through one unified QA and code review cycle, that is in the instance of Partner Place ,managed by OneStream themselves. This simple fact allows Black Diamond to put the power of upgrades in your handswhen you are ready, via simple upgrade packages that have been tested for every variation and use case of the code base. At Black Diamond, we’ve heard from our customers that quality, ease of upgrade, and self-reliance is key when considering add on packages and have developed our utilities with that in mind.

Experience is everything at Black Diamond. If you aren’t partnering with Black Diamond, ensure you ask these questions to whomever you partner with.

  • Is my solution being designed by a team with decades of experience or by a few consultants who may or may not understand that they don’t know everything (outside of airport codes)? Do they know what they don’t know?
  • After I go live, do I still have quick access to a team of experts who understand the platform as well as those who implemented it? Is the methodology flexible enough to adapt to what I need and not what is easiest for my partner to manage?
  • Will I require another consulting engagement to make any upgrades to my implementation so I can take advantage of the new OneStream functionality or can I upgrade them myself without having to touch a line of code in a process that is overseen by OneStream themselves?

Whomever your partner is, take a little advice from a little known philosopher named Confucius. “He who knows all the answers has not been asked all the questions.”


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