How can you tell if your prospective Integration consultant knows what he’s doing?
Or: “but the sales rep TOLD me that he would be great!”
Look for, and evaluate, the following:
If there is difficulty communicating with the prospective consultant . . . even a little bit of difficulty, you need to find someone else.
You are paying (presumably) a significant amount of money to have an expert come in and address your problems, if that expert can’t entirely understand those problems, the chances of addressing them drop dramatically.
Really good consultants are master communicators, they not only understand the overt “to-do-list” messaging, but they catch an awful lot of the subtext of your communication with them. (a lot of the “nice to haves” and “it would be great ifs”) These types of communication require someone who understands the nuances of your conversations with them, and if you are having trouble understanding them, it’s a safe bet that they are having at least as much trouble understanding you.
Good questions to evaluate a consultant’s communication skills are often “story problems” where you give the consultant some information, and ask them to then give you feedback on what they heard, and additional information that they would need to solve the presented issue. This will allow you to evaluate their understanding of your communication.
Understanding Your Unique Business Needs
Integration solutions are not one size fits all, period. If your consultant comes in explaining that they have already done this before, and they already know what needs to be done, you should take that as a major red flag.
Integration tools are, as a rule, extremely flexible; and allow solutions to be created in many different ways. This is both a strength and a weakness. While you can create A solution many ways, typically there is only one BEST solution, and determining what solution is best is the consultant’s job, based on your goals for the project.
Determining that “best solution” can only be accomplished by the consultant listening to, and understanding your unique business objectives before architecting an integration answer.
Good questions to explore a consultant’s abilities in this area typically explore the consultant’s intended approach to the project, the time spent in discovery and design; and the amount of participation your team will have in those processes.