Consulting

My First Month as a Consultant

What I'm learning and doing in my first 30 days and some advice to you.

I already wrote about my first week on the job as a Consultant with Slalom and now I’m back again to document the first month. I actually had a lot of people reach out about the first post, so I’m happy that this has an audience and that I’m helping! And on that note – if you have a specific question about getting into consulting, feel free to ask it in the comments and I’ll cover it in a future post!

So… consulting. I’ve always thought of consulting as this magical thing that takes special skills and I was actually really nervous to jump in. Like, do I have what it takes to be a consultant? Can I be someone’s trusted advisor? If these last 30 days have taught me anything, its that I can absolutely be a consultant, and a good one at that! I’m finding that I’m using all the same skills that I already had and used every day, and not only that but the trainings that I’m doing to learn about the world of consulting have all been things that I am comfortable with already.

My First Project

I don’t know if everyone’s first project would be this, and I actually don’t think its a typical project for Slalom even, but I am embedded on a 12 month contract with a local company to just be their Salesforce Platform Manager and Architect. This is great because its what I’ve been doing already for the last 5 years and so I have a lot to offer in this role. But its also more than what I was doing in the past. Before I had a very established org where yes we made a lot of changes and enhancements, but it was 10+ years old and was pretty set. The org I’m working with now is new, relatively clean and it’s like the whole world is a possibility. I get to make recommendations on process and standard operating procedures – and document all those things. Documentation is one of my favorite things in the world, and it is super cool to be able to document such a baby org and then work that practice into the culture so that it is an ongoing activity. Some examples of things I’ve done with my customer this month:

  • Started documentation and more importantly, created a structure for documentation
  • Prioritized, cleaned-up, and re-wrote the backlog
  • Setup processes around sandboxes
  • Met with various teams to see how they use Salesforce currently
  • Met with executives to understand the vision for what future state architecture could look like
  • Started a capability gap assessment
  • Fixed a lot of low hanging fruit in terms of quick win type tickets
  • Wrote some standard operating procedures
  • Outlined the roles and responsibilities of a Salesforce team

That seems like a lot for the first few weeks on the job, but I’ve been having so much fun doing it. If you know me, you know that I like to just dive in and get stuff done, and that’s what I’m doing.

Support Systems

A really cool perk from the consulting world is the amount of support you have. Not only do I have a team at this customer, but I have my whole Slalom team and within that team other teams – all people that I can tap into whenever I have questions or need advice. And beyond those teams, there is the entire Salesforce Partner ecosystem and the Partner Community of other consultants and people super willing to answer questions and lend a hand. Its like the whole Trailblazer Community multiplied. And speaking of the Partner Community…

I learned this week that THERE ARE EVEN MORE TRAILHEAD MODULES AND CERTIFICATIONS available for Partners. Well, they are called Accreditations. And I want them all. And speaking of certifications…

Certifications

Working for a Salesforce customer, certifications weren’t required and didn’t give me a leg up in terms of advancement, compensation, etc so the ones that I had were purely because I wanted them and were goals I set for myself. At a Salesforce Partner, certifications again aren’t necessarily required per say, but they are definitely encouraged. Certifications help create more trust with customers and show that you know what you’re talking about. A definite perk is that I can expense or get a voucher for any certifications I want to take! That’s awesome because I’ve mostly paid for those myself in the past. And, fun fact, I think I heard that the San Diego Slalom Salesforce team is like the most certified! So I’m super happy to just keep adding to the number. Since I started I’ve earned:

  • Service Cloud Consultant
  • Advanced Administrator
  • Sales Cloud Consultant

And now that I know about the partner Accreditations, I’ve signed up for a Digital Engagement exam to put my chat geekery to the test! I’m actually pretty excited about that one! And since my goal is to get my Application and System Architecture certifications, I need to make time to finally pass Platform Developer 1.

Tips For YOU

So after a month, do I have any advice for you on the wonderful world of consulting? Maybe:

  1. Its a team sport.
    Being a consultant is not just you doing a task. You aren’t going to be a solo admin type role (at least working for a Salesforce partner). To be effective, its clear that you should and need to work with the team. Your customer’s teams, your office’s teams, and Salesforce teams. Teamwork makes the dream work.
  2. Don’t think you already don’t have the skills.
    In the 4 or 5 trainings I’ve done this month because I didn’t think I knew how to be a consultant, the things that were discussed were soft skills. Communication. Feedback. Organization. Time Management. These are all things that you know how to do already. These are the things that are transferrable from other roles and other industries. Maybe you have more to learn on the technology side? There’s no better way to learn than on the job.
  3. Take advantage of the resources.
    I’m not gonna lie… Slalom has a ton of resource and I could be here for 10 years and probably not look at them all, but I’m looking at as many of them as I can. I’ve found templates that I don’t need to re-create, documentation that I don’t need to re-create, answers to questions that I would have asked that someone else already did. People on the team that are experts in change management and I’m the worst person at saying “no that needs to wait until the next sprint”. The Partner Community. Like, TONS of things. At a customer, yes you’ll have resources, but like… not like this.
  4. Freelance.
    I might have mentioned in my last post, but when I was unsure about the consulting world, I decided to do some freelance projects that I worked on evenings and weekends just to dip my toes in the water and see what it was like. It was like this – projects I knew how to tackle and people I knew how to work with, because I already have those skills. But, freelancing is really how I proved it to myself.
  5. Talk to a recruiter.
    Honestly, I never would have applied to a job at Slalom. Not because of anything in particular except that I had no idea I wanted to be a consultant. The recruiter that stalked me on LinkedIn for over 6 months was actually really great – Uriah. When I stopped ghosting her and made myself open to a conversation, she really opened my eyes. She prepped me for everything, set my expectations of everything, made the role clear, and helped me see value in myself. If you are even thinking about consulting – just talk to one of those people who keeps sending you InMail. You might not accept an offer with that company, but the conversations will definitely be worth it.

Anyway. Its been about 30 days and I’m happy as a clam. I feel supported, valued, and productive, and who can ask for anything more? I’m super excited to see what next month brings and the 6 months after that. Consulting for the win!

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