Being a SAP consultant and working for implementation or support projects, the main parameter that measures our performance is how happy our customer is with our work. The managers are always on a lookout for any appreciation or positive feedback received from the clients that can validate the success of a project and the customer service. However, at times in the rush and pressure of service delivery we tend to forget thinking from the business point of view. Listed below are a few pointers which I believe that every consultant should keep in mind when dealing with clients / end users.
1. Understand the issue/requirement with an open mind
One mistake that many consultants tend to make is to immediately start co-relating the business requirement with the system configurations that they know or have done earlier in that area. We need to understand each requirement or incident from an open mind and first try to understand the business process that’s driving the requirement or issue. Only once this is understood clearly, you would have a better idea of how to transform this into SAP. In case a particular business requirement just cannot be met by any possible method then explain the same to the client with proper reasoning. The client would appreciate it if he knows that you have tried all possible options to achieve it first instead of saying no to it straight away.
2. Ask relevant questions only
Being a functional consultant, clients expect us to be aware of the basic business processes of the industry and how they are mapped in the system. So while resolving an issue or configuring a new requirement when you ask the user for certain clarifications, make sure that your questions are relevant and related to the topic. Avoid asking extremely basic questions or repeating the questions which have already been answered by the user earlier.
3. Provide Progressive Updates
Whenever you are working on any incident or requirement that is complicated and time consuming, keep providing time to time updates to the user on the same. This will keep the user assured that you are working on it dedicatedly and are making significant progress. However, make sure that the updates are meaningful and not sent out only for the sake of writing a mail. Any update should clearly point out how much work has been completed and the target date by which you are aiming to complete the remaining.
4. Do not promise timelines that cannot be met
When resolving critical issues, consultants tend to give out timelines that they haven’t thought through properly. This is one habit that can annoy the client very much. Whenever you are working on anything critical, firstly assess if you know the solution to the problem. If you do, then estimate how much time would it take to resolve and deliver and then accordingly update the client. If you do not know the solution already and need to do some research or tests, do not promise any definite timeline. Let the user know of the complexity of the issue and the possible side effects if the solution is delivered in haste without being sure. Assure the client that you wish to deliver an error-free solution for which you need to extra time. Any client would prefer a solution delivered with some extra time instead of one that causes further issues due to undiscovered side-effects. However, keep the client updated on the progress even though you have an extended timeline.
5. Explain the client in business language instead of technical jargons
It should always be kept in mind that the people to whom we deliver our solution or give updates are end users who may not know the technicalities of SAP. Thus, when communicating with the business users, make sure that you do not use technical jargons or try explaining configuration concepts as they won’t understand it. Always simplify your communications by explaining in business process language which would be easier for the clients to relate to.