Doing Right By Clients: Honoring the Consultant-Client Relationship
By swearing the Hippocratic Oath, doctors pledge to first do no harm. This means prioritizing the well-being of their patients above all else. An old boss told me that every person should try to live by the same principle, no matter their vocation. That’s how doing what is right became my guiding light as an IT consultant.
Problem Solving and Consultant-Client Relationships
The consultant-client relationship mirrors that of a doctor and their patient. Lives may not hang in the balance for IT, but both relationships involve deep subject-matter experience and shared decision-making. Most importantly, these types of relationships require a high degree of trust to be successful.
Few patients can say that they fully understand their doctors’ every decree. Still, we trust that our physicians and other healthcare professionals use their years of education and training to inform each recommendation.
A similar thing can be said for a successful consultant. As their friendly, neighborhood IT strategist, our clients trust me to bring specific knowledge and experience to the table. Just as doctors have continuing education requirements, I stay up to date on the latest technologies and best practices—so clients can focus on other aspects of their business.
Prioritizing Client Needs for Effective Consulting
Now, it would be naive to say that every IT consultant prioritizes each client’s needs. While working at another managed service provider (MSP), I worked with a client organization whose business model was to purchase and resell overstock and secondhand technology. Selling hardware at a markup is a huge revenue stream for traditional MSPs. The previous provider attempted to force the client’s hand by refusing to complete new projects on hardware they did not sell. The provider was frustrated by their lost revenue; the client was frustrated by the MSP’s lack of flexibility.
I inherited an unstable infrastructure that had been pieced together by many different hands. I knew the client deserved better, and they were willing to trust me to build it for them.
My vision was a streamlined system that could scale and provide a repeatable support experience.
There was no direct monetary gain: they didn’t buy any new hardware, and improving the system meant fewer future support tickets (and fewer billable hours). But I could rest easy knowing that I, as an engineer, delivered the best solution possible.
When I finished implementing the new system, the client took one look and said, “All it took was one conversation about making this work?” Not quite. Yes, it took one conversation, but it required the right mindset to bridge the gap.
Consultant-Client Relationships and the Pliancy Ethos
That was the last time I was allowed to honor a client’s needs over profitability in that job. I eventually left that MSP; in fact, I stopped working at MSPs altogether. When I met Marcus, Pliancy’s founder, I realized that he was building a team whose approach to IT consulting aligned with mine.
It’s about more than just a business model or a paycheck. It’s an ethos, a constant search for better understanding, and I can confidently say I’m empowered to prioritize excellent service over the bottom line.
If I can leave you with one piece of advice, it’s to expect more from your IT consultant and the consultancy process. They shouldn’t have to supplement their services with hardware sales. Instead, you should feel confident that they are a trusted advisor and a steward of your systems. Your consulting team should commit to doing no harm—or, even better, they should commit to doing what’s right.