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You’re a consultant and find yourself on an overseas assignment. What could go wrong? Quite a bit! Here are my three simple suggestions to help make the assignment go a little better.

“Could you just…?” “Why don’t you join us” These are the little comments that creep in and could undermine your IR35 status. As you get to know your client and their team you can find yourself adopting behaviour that the Inland Revenue classifies as becoming “part and parcel” of the organisation and therefore defines you as an employee and no longer complies with IR35 legislation.  IR35 Compliance needs to become a way of life for consultants!

The world of recruitment works at a faster pace than ever before as applicants use mobile apps on the go. Recruiters understand the need for speed. Experience shows that the best people don’t hang around for long: they have good contacts and a great track record. The best talent moves quickly and clients know their value and hang on to them. The difficulty often lies in persuading the hirer of the urgency of the situation:

In our work we often have to help clients in recruiting for either project or operational resources. One thing that a consulting background has instilled in us is the need to recruit the person rather than recruit the skill.  But surely, a ‘good’ CV helps to identify a good candidate for a particular role? In fact our experience from helping to recruit many permanent and contract staff is quite the opposite. CVs that demonstrate a large list of very relevant skills often are not what they seem.

You don't need to be a professional facilitator to carry a few colourful items in your briefcase that make your meetings and presentations more interactive and effective.

Here are just a few of the things our consultants carry in their Facilitator Kits:

Getting Your Technology Right Golden Rule 1: Ask the supplier to prove the technology works

If the supplier can’t show you the same technology working at another client, then you need to be careful about what you are committing to. It may sound like a small upgrade, but IT systems invariably take much longer to stabalise than anyone predicts. You need to avoid turning into the supplier's test environment.

Requirements Management Golden Rule 1: Write down analysed requirements, not what people said

Always write down the requirements in a way that you know can be delivered (don’t cut and paste from any old document) and play back 1 by 1 to the business and explain how they will be delivered – write that down as well!

IT Supplier Management Golden Rule 1: Provide leadership from the top

Significant projects and programmes involving external suppliers will only deliver if there is top level sponsorship within the organisation. Overall responsibility for delivery must be allocated to a single senior accountable individual. Public sector projects have the concept of a Senior Responsible Owner (SRO), it is good practice for an equivalent to be appointed within a private sector project/programme. One of the commonest causes of private sector project failure is lack of accountability at senior level.

Project Planning and Estimating Golden Rule 1: Don’t go into too much detail

Planning is critical – but if you plan an IT project to too much detail you’ll spend most of your time managing the plan instead of managing the project. You need to find the right level of plan that ensures you are on top of the project and your team understands what they have to do when.

Effective Teams Golden Rule 1: Start off on the right foot

Many teams are not effective as they are merely a bunch of people with individual skills brought together. If all of your team don’t have the same understanding of where your project is going from the start, they’ll remain as individuals just working in the same room. Make sure your team has a common understanding of what the project is doing and how their contribution will help get there.

Business Engagement Golden Rule 1: Engage with the unsung heros – the real users

Primary Stakeholders are usually individuals who represent an area or department such as HR or Marketing. Although they may be influential they may not be aware of the practical problems that are being tackled and overcome on a daily basis by the ‘coal-face’ staff. Battle your way through to get access to those unsung heros.