As a Microsoft Partner Consultant, or MPC, my goal is NOT to take away your employee’s job from them. I am on my journey to be the best version of an MPC, that I can be. When reviewing opportunities for work or positions I need to fill, this is my outlook. This article will show you how to find, and keep, those true die-hard “techies” who love what they do and will make a difference along the way.
Being an MPC is not your average day job. The daily duties involve balancing a wide range of skills while keeping a specialized focus on the Microsoft stack of technologies. An individual working as an MPC must keep up with emerging technologies while maintaining or replacing legacy systems. This role involves managing people and keeping up with expectations, not just technical skills. A “people person” must transcend to think logically about problems and solve them in a creative and timely manner. If this kind of employee interests you, this article will help you find them.
Consulting as a Trade
We commonly think of a trade as a career that involves mechanics, plumbing, or welding. While consulting is not a part of the manual labor workforce, I propose we have a lot more in common with these trades other than blue-collar employment. Let us look at the definition of a trade from a trade website: https://work.chron.com.
A trade consists of:
- Manual labor jobs that require a specific skill set or training
- A consultant specializes in a technology, platform, or system
- Many trades provide on-the-job training
- A consultant learns almost all the skills of their work through experience on projects
- Go to a vocational school
- Consultants do not have a specific vocational school
- Technology boot camps and other specialized training does exist
- Hit the ground running in less than two years
- New hire consultants can move quickly through an organization given they are continuously working on projects and growing as a professional
Clearly, consulting is its own professional trade. Microsoft Partners know this more than any other organization. Partners in the Microsoft ecosystem specialize in a specific Microsoft technology , therefore hiring specialized employees is required. This high level of expertise can really shrink the talent pool for recruiters. Those that have experience in Business Applications get requests from recruiters on a regular basis. A way to overcome this narrow approach is through a cultural change of viewing employees as crafters of a trade on a journey. This cultural shift will open the talent pool and allow hiring to be more about the individual’s fit to the company rather than just their fit to a certain job.
Consultants as Crafters in a Trade
This cultural change is about the practice’s approach to growing internal talent and retaining employees. Instead of hiring an ideal fit for a job description, HR can leverage this new internal structure to fit talent in groups based on current skill with a clear path forward for growth. We can call this “the trade approach” to professional development.
Here is an example of what the “Trade Approach” looks like:
- Little or no job-related experience
- Knowledge learned in classroom is applied in real life situations
- Expert craftsperson who started out as an apprentice
- Has one or more certifications
- Knows trade inside and out
- Instructs, oversees, corrects, and supports apprentices
- On-site supervision
- Completed Journeyman and Apprentice
- Additional schooling like a degree
- Multiple certifications
With this structure in place, the growth of the employees becomes dependent on the employees themselves, by helping others or seeking assistance from those with more authority. Hiring becomes less about the amount of skill a prospect brings to the table, and more about the character and determination a prospect has.
Skills of the trade
When hiring, there are clear skills outlined in each job description. As a hiring manager it helps to know which skills can be learned and which skills are part of an individual’s character and work ethic. Functional and technical skills are those that can be learned. Soft skills can be learned as well, however, they tend to be more natural characteristic traits that one has developed over the years.
Functional vs. Technical
The following is a simple list of Functional Skills vs. Technical Skills. This terminology is helpful when management is trying to determine if a candidate is more of a functional or technical consultant.
- Requirements gathering
- Customization through configuration
- Requirements gathering
- Documentation (technical docs are different from functional)
- Customization through code
- Integration design and build
- Infrastructure/Networking foundation to help anticipate impact to system
SIMPLY PUT GOOD TO KNOW: A functional consultant handles configuration without code. A technical consultant handles custom development based on designs by a functional team member.
Consultant Soft Skills
A simple search on the web will find a long list of soft skills typically required of a candidate. This lists a few that may get missed during hiring interviews.
A consultant should understand and apply the following:
- Project management practices – differentiating between Agile and Waterfall
- Project Managers, Program Managers, and Scrum Master are not the same job
- Project Managers – in charge of planning and execution of overall project
- Program Manager – oversees purpose and status of the projects in a program. Ensures program goals are met by providing decision-making
- Scrum Master – facilitates the work performed, eliminates obstacles to the completion of tasks and achievement of goals
- Understand how to guide the client to the best decisions
- Continuously working to balance needs of the company with the demands of the client
- Building relationships
- There should be a sense of trust with the client, as if the relationship is a valuable friendship
- Honesty is key, always deliver what is promised
TIP: If you can’t deliver go back to negotiations and learn how to promise less
Indicators Prospect is on a Journey
There are certain things to look for in a resume and during interviews that will indicate a prospect is not just looking for another job, but they desire to share their craft with your organization.
Journeyman and Master level consultants have one or more of these:
- D365 Certifications – more than one
- Other Certifications – Lean, Six Sigma, Business Analyst, Technical
- Experience in diverse environments and software combinations (Not just MSFT)
- On-going learning – continuously growing
- Learning on their own time
- Mentoring others
- Involvement in the community
- Passionate about technology beyond their focus
Investing in a Microsoft Partner Consultant is a process that takes time and finding the right fit for your company is an even lengthier process. By considering a candidate’s technical skills, as well as motivation and drive, your company will be off to a great start. However, it’s not about HR figuring out who to hire based on a job description. It comes down to companies needing to realize how the overall culture can spark a growth within consultants.
About Dynamic Consultants Group
Founded in 2013, Dynamic Consultants Group has become a global-leading consulting firm for Microsoft Partners. We offer our clients full-service consultations from CRM and ERP implementations, to data migrations and more. We have helped over 150 companies achieve success. Our consultants specialize in revenue-generating strategies through implementation and integration of Microsoft platforms. We are known for their ability to tailor services and products around their clients’ business models within their industry, as no two companies are the same. As Microsoft Partners, we assist in establishing a trajectory of growth for our partner network. We can help partners increase profits, reduce costs, increase relationships, build customer loyalty, and instantly scale business on demand.