One of the questions that I’m regularly asked by people is ‘what do I actually do’. Well, that’s a good question, after all. Usually I’ll say something like ‘I look out of windows, and think about things’. It’s more exciting to them than what I actually do!
When I was interviewing in the consultancy world, I came across all of these wonderful titles. Technical consultant, Functional consultant, etc. I had to try to understand what they meant, as I’d like to think I have skills across the entire project lifecycle (though I’m not a developer).
So, with that in mind, I thought it might be good to do a post on what exactly a Functional Consultant is (as that’s apparently what I am…)!
The general statement goes as follows: ‘A Functional Consultant is there to be the liaison between the client and the development team. They listen to the client, understand what they’re trying to do, and facilitates the development of the product’.
Hold on – I know what you’re about to ask. This sounds similar to a Business Analyst, right?
That’s true, to a point. But there are functional (if you’ll excuse the pun) difference.
A Functional Consultant has strong product knowledge, understands the product/s on a (very) technical level – how it works, why it works that way, any limitations, etc. This can be quite specialist at times, depending on the product at hand. They know how to take advantage of native system functionality, and how it can support the client and their needs. This then allows them to best advise the client on the right solution that they should be going with.
They also have the understanding, ability and knowledge to take what the client needs, create ‘user stories’ from this. The aim of a user story is to provide the full package and information for a specific feature, that is able to be understood both by the client as well as the development team. This will therefore include high level detail, as well as go into detailed specification/s that are required for the specific feature to be able to be developed and work.
By doing this, they remove the need for continual back and forth between the client and development team during the development process.
There is also more to the role of the Functional Consultant. Because of their experience and in-depth product knowledge, along with the ability to understand and analyse what the client actually needs (as opposed to what is currently in place), they are able to up-sell, cross-sell, and increase the opportunity that they’re bringing to the client. Of course they’re going to be bringing in revenue by doing this, but they’re also then able to provide further value to the client overall.
This will then lead to a better professional image, further opportunities, and potentially even to act as a favoured advisor to the client (which is of course an amazing place to be in!).
So, how would YOU describe your role?