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4 Pillars of an Oracle Consulting Career

The 4 pillars on which I have built my own Oracle Consulting Career are:

Position Yourself, Package Your Experience, Promote Yourself and Partner with the Right People

Position Yourself

When I say position yourself, I mean, exactly what do you know about Oracle? Can other people understand exactly what you do? Can you explain it in a single sentence? If you are short on skills, what are you missing? How can you get those missing skills?

Package your Experience

You have some experience in Oracle, but can you communicate that in your resume or profile? Have you really thought hard about what you can do, and where you might fit in a project team?

Promote Yourself

A lot of consultants think promoting yourself stops when you start a new role and starts again when you finish up. They couldn’t be more wrong. Promoting yourself is an everyday activity both with your current & potential new employers.

Partner with the Right People

As a consultant you need to partner with your client, with other consultancies and with end client staff, in order to succeed. This article will tell you the important points of interacting with these people. It will also tell you what is expected of a consultant, and how to be retained by a client.

One of my managers said the most memorable thing about me was that it was obvious that I really cared about what I was doing. I think we’ve gotten too far away from that in the consulting world. Some consultants have one aim in life, to maximize their billable time. We should act with integrity, respect the clients you are working for, and the people you are working with.

Pillar 1: Position Yourself

When I say position yourself, I mean, where do you fit in the Oracle consulting Marketplace? Exactly what do you know about Oracle? Can other people understand exactly what you do? Can you explain it in a single sentence? If you are short on skills, what are you missing? How can you get those missing skills?

Large Oracle projects require many different types of consultants, here are the three most common types.

  • Functional Consultant or Business Analyst
  • Technical Consultant
  • Database Administrator

The guiding rules for a Functional consultant are to Design, Communicate, Deliver

Functional Consultants perform the following primary tasks:

  • Solution Design
  • Gather Business Requirements
  • Problem or Issue Analysis
  • Support
  • Change Management
  • Testing
  • Configuration

The best functional consultants have the following attributes

  • Logical/Analytical
  • Customer or Client focussed
  • Good Verbal & Written Communication skills
  • Ability to express ideas, solutions and concepts to people from different backgrounds
  • Can plan & drive projects & tasks to completion
  • Thorough and disciplined in approach
  • Understanding change and it’s impact on people
  • Technical appreciation

Technical Consultants depend on two core skills, writing Structured Query Language(SQL), and using SQL in Procedural Language(PL/SQL)

Technical Consultants perform the following primary tasks:

  • Design & write Reports
  • Interfacing with external systems
  • XML for data transmission & Reporting
  • Workflow
  • Data Conversion
  • Business Intelligence Tools

The best Technical consultants have the following attributes:

  • Logical/Analytical
  • Solution Focussed
  • Thorough testing skills
  • Functional knowledge
  • Toolset Knowledge
  • Application knowledge
  • Good Verbal & Written Communication skills

The above is not meant to be a complete list, there are many skills & personality types required to work on large Oracle projects. The best functional & technical consultants I have learned from, and worked with, are strong in most of the above areas.

I mentioned above explaining what I do in a single sentence. At the moment my single sentence is “When my client decides to buy, sell or merge part of it’s business, I implement the system changes to make that happen”. I change this sentence frequently, depending on whom I am talking to. You can compare the above skills and personality attributes, to your own skillset.

Pillar 2: Package your Experience

You have some experience in Oracle, but can you communicate that in your resume or profile? Have you really thought hard about what you can do, and where you might fit in a project team?

I am an Oracle Ebusiness expert. It’s very obvious to anyone who looks at my LinkedIn profile, or cv, exactly what I do. My LinkedIn experience is a long list of consulting roles, most with Oracle EBusiness in the title. The details vary according to the role, and my experience level at that time, but most of the roles have “Oracle Ebusiness” as the subject area.

Nobody can be in any doubt what I do. This makes it easier for people I don’t know, to approach me with offers of work. This happened to me in 2010, when I was approached by a new client via LinkedIn, who wanted to check my availability and interest for a new contract. The role and offer were good, so I ended up working there for six months.

If you think about it from a recruiters point of view, what do they see when they look at your profile? Is it really clear what you do? What role types do you want to be contacted about? Does your profile reflect this? Let’s try something, using LinkedIn People search, search for the term oracle eBusiness consultant + your country, where do you appear in the results? Does your profile make it obvious to recruiters what you are good at, is it clear where your experience is?

If you consider a typical Project Life Cycle, it might contain the following:

Project Initiation

Kick Off

Define Project Goals

Define Project Metrics & Success

Define High-Level Scope

Assess

Gather Business Requirements

Analyze Requirements

Define Detailed Scope

Design

Analyze Requirements List

Use standard features or customizations

Re-use existing components?

Design & Configure new components

Create functional specifications

Create Configuration

Develop

Review Functional Specifications

Determine feasibility of Functional Specifications

Recommend Alternate Solutions

Estimate Timelines

Develop Components

Testing

Review User Requirements

Review Functional Specifications

Decide Testing Scope

Test Configuration

Test new components

Change Management

Analyze User Requirements

Decide Process changes required

Agree changes with the Business

Document Changes

Create Training Materials

Hold User Training

Cutover

Define Cutover Activities

Define Cutover Sequence & Dependencies

Create Cutover Task List

Assign Responsibility for Cutover Tasks

Agree Cutover Timetable with project team

Execute Cutover Plan

Post Go-Live

Create Post Go-Live Support Plan

Provide User Support

Gather Statistics on System Performance

Diagnose Issues

Manage Issues to Resolution

Stabilize System

Handover

Review System Performance

Agree System Stability with Business & Support Teams

Handover to Support Teams

Assist Support Teams

Review

Review against project Goals

Review Budgets

Decide Lessons Learned

After Reviewing this project plan & phases:

  • Have you had some experience in some of these phases/tasks?
  • In which phase will your skills be most in demand?
  • Are you ruling yourself out of some phases due to missing skills?
  • Considering the skills you have, what phase will you start and end your involvement with the project?

Pillar 3: Promote yourself

A lot of consultants think promoting yourself stops when you start a new role and starts again when you finish up. They couldn’t be more wrong. Promoting yourself is an everyday activity both with your current & potential new employers.

Within your Current Client

For many years I worked as an Oracle Consultant in companies across Europe. I interviewed well, and I was successful in gaining most of the roles I wanted. I worked hard & delivered in the roles I had, and gained an excellent reputation with other consultants & also with the recruiters who placed me. This was a good start to my consulting career, but since I started writing about consulting, I started to think back about my career, where I could have done things differently.

Looking back now, as some projects ran to conclusion, I was depending on my direct line manager, to provide more work for me. I had spent time building up a reputation within that client, but wasn’t actively exploring other possibilities within the same client. I could have done more to let other managers know I’m coming available, and I’m sure I missed out on some opportunities due to this approach.

Very early in my career, I let my recruitment agent handle extensions, instead of developing my relationship sufficiently with my direct manager, so that I could have this conversation myself. Nowadays I make sure I have a good relationship with my direct manager, so I can bring up the possibility of future work on a frequent basis, perhaps once per month.

Most managers appreciate that consulting involves looking after your future pipeline of work, and will be flexible in allowing you to approach other managers, provided you finish the job you were hired for. As an independent consultant, or a member of a large consulting firm, it is perfectly acceptable to talk about extra future work with your direct manager, or other managers in your current client. Courtesy dictates you probably should ask your direct manager first, before other managers in your current client, but you are entitled to express a preference if there is a choice available.

Within potential New Employers

  • LinkedIn
  • Your Network
  • Industry Organizations/User Groups
  • Consulting Partners

LinkedIn: This is the easiest way to interact with potential employers without leaving your desk. Both potential employers & recruiters search LinkedIn for candidates when roles come up. How does your profile look to potential new employers? Is it up-to-date with the latest skills you have picked up? Do you contribute to LinkedIn Groups, or answer Questions from other LinkedIn members? Making the extra commitment to spend more time, and actively contribute on Linked, marks you out as a more interesting candidate.

Your Network: As you develop your network, are you staying in touch with people. If you have worked on a successful project with other consultants, they are very likely to recommend you to their current client. Have you let them know you are coming available?

Industry Organizations/User Groups: There will be industry organizations operating in your area, these are good opportunities to keep your knowledge up-to-date, and find out what people are doing in your industry. For instance the Oracle User Group is an excellent source of what is happening in your industry.

Consulting Partners: I also try to stay in touch with consulting partners from larger consultancies. As an independent consultant you could be hired to provide specialist expertise, where the consultancy has no available staff in that area. Working in a collaborative fashion with consultancies can lead to a future pipeline, where both you and the consultancy recognize the strengths in each other.

Pillar 4: Partner with the Right People

As a consultant you need to partner with your client, with other consultancies and with end client staff, in order to succeed. This section will show how to interact with these people. It will also demonstrate what is expected of a consultant, and how to be retained by a client.

One of my managers said the most memorable thing about me was that it was obvious that I really cared about what I was doing. I think we’ve gotten too far away from that in the consulting world. Some consultants have one aim in life, to maximize their billable time. We should act with integrity, respect the Clients you are working for, and the people you are working with.

Consulting involves forming meaningful relationships with your project colleagues. There are very few roles where you are the only consultant on site, working on your own to achieve a goal, without any interaction with client staff, people from large consultancies and other contractors or consultants. Very often I have been working for large corporations, in big project teams. Frequently I have worked people of all different personality types, ages, experience levels & nationalities.

In a typical Oracle EBusiness project you will have team members from various groups;

  • Permanent Staff
  • Independent Consultants
  • Large Consulting organization

The Project Sponsor, Subject Matter Experts from Operations, Operations Steering Group Member will likely be permanent staff. Project Management personnel may be from large consulting organizations. The functional leads could be Independent Consultants. The technical team members will frequently be offshore large consulting organization personnel.

So to work as part of a large, mixed team like above you need to be able to work effectively with people with different skillsets, backgrounds, goals, objectives and motivations.

There are some people to watch out for though. After a while it is possible to differentiate between people who are with the client for the long-term, and people who are temporarily hired, who wont be retained. There are people who the management trust, having worked on previous projects within the same client, or in different organizations.

In summary, there is a type of consultant that this client likes.

Have a look at your project team, who has been there for multiple projects, who makes a good impression? Who do the management ask their opinion? Who are in positions of responsibility? What is the behaviour of these consultants? It’s very likely that they know what the client expects, and operate according to these guidelines.

These are the people to follow, the right people to partner with, the ones to stay close to. If you want to stay with your current client, you just need to be the type of consultant that your client likes.

So for more great information on Oracle Consulting…



Source by Aidan Duffy