Technical Consultant

Written by Super User on . Posted in ERP Domain.

Technical consultants are the experts with knowledge of code, coding standards, and the software implementation lifecycle. Technical consultants do not need to be domain-specific like finance, human resources, manufacturing and procure-to-pay, etc. Their main role is to make customizations, extensions, modifications, localizations or integrations to the existing product and to develop reports. They have training and experience in software engineering and development.

Technical consultants start their career after graduation usually by working for an IT company or joining the IT department of any product or service company. They have a technical career path that matures into IT leadership roles.

As software systems grew in complexity over the past few decades, large teams began working on large software projects. ERPs have replaced the in-house development of core business processes. Domain-based and functional-area based best practices started to come into play. All of these changes created new dimensions and new career paths for technical consultants and posed their own challenges.

In today’s competitive world, to be successful in an IT career, an IT consultant must possess the following skills:

  • Technical Skills – Technology and Trends
  • Functional Skills – Conceptual and Business Skills
  • IT Leadership Skills – Management and Leadership Skills

If you want to develop yourself as a consultant, it is important to learn how to pursue your continuing professional education. Understanding the challenges and some of the resources available to acquire these skills will improve your ability to exceed customer expectations and move up the corporate ladder.

Resources for building technical skills

Good technical consultants recognize that their technical skills are important no matter what area they are helping clients with. Technology is changing at a very rapid pace and you need to keep your technical skills up to date with changing technology. As you progress in your career, you need to focus on more strategic roles, and for that you need to maintain a wider range of technical knowledge and tendencies. As long as you continue to invest in your training, you can always grow in terms of technical skills.

Resources for building functional skills

As you progress in your technical roles, you are expected to gain more functional and business expertise. Acquiring this expertise involves understanding how organizations operate to achieve their goals and determining the courses of action an organization needs to take to achieve those goals and objectives. IT Functional Consultants are the experts with knowledge of business concepts and processes with an understanding of business flows with the added ability to analyze underlying software functionality against business expectations. In IT implementations, two types of knowledge experts are needed, one of the business experts who provides the knowledge about the current business process and its expectations from the future automated system. These expectations are converted into software code by technical experts who specialize in various technologies and understand terminology and computer language.

To acquire functional expertise, you must acquire three skill sets as defined below.

  • Business processes and flows – Knowledge of how business activities are conducted to enable their integration into IT systems.
  • Concept knowledge Understand the why of business processes. Why are certain business activities performed, what is the logic or business need to perform these activities?
  • Domain Knowledge – Knowledge of the industry, its challenges and its benefits.

You can acquire some of this knowledge by browsing the functional guides of the software being implemented. This provides you with enough information about the product features and how certain business processes can be a solution in a particular software or ERP product. However, they fail to provide you with the conceptual knowledge and technology independent knowledge.

The Chartered Technofunctional Institute has made available huge video and text tutorials on its website to help technical professionals gain functional and domain expertise. Most of the resources available are the best in the world and are offered free to everyone.

You can select the function in which you want to acquire new skills and knowledge such as finance, distribution and manufacturing, etc. Then you can walk through the various processes that make up that function and gain mastery of a particular area over time.

If you follow all the lessons available in any business process (like the general ledger), you will acquire both conceptual and functional knowledge and also understand the best practices that belong to a particular process area. The best thing about their tutorials is that they are very comprehensive and available on demand and are not dependent on any particular technology. Therefore, whatever your technology like Oracle, SAP, PeopleSoft and JAVA etc. You can learn the underlying business and functional concepts.

If you are already a good technical consultant, these characteristics and skills will challenge you to become better. If you aspire to be a good technical consultant, this article provides a roadmap for things you should consider and work on right away.