“Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.”― Steven Wright
The concept of a “Trusted Advisor” refers to an individual or firm that provides expert advice, insights, and recommendations to clients to help them speed up reach time and take advantage of previous experience.
If you’re in an IT leadership role, you know first hand how many priorities you juggle on a daily basis. From leading and developing a team, interacting with peers, or simply responding to customer requests, time is always at a premium – Using a good trusted advisor can make a big difference.
Here are steps and considerations to help you pick a suitable trusted advisor
First , qualify the advisor and understand what they have to offer:
Advisor Type One – The Connector – “I know a guy…”
Not all Trusted Advisors are equal – by far! Some simply understand what providers are available and will “connect” you or setup a meeting. This type of advisor often does not understand to any great depth the topics. They repeat what is crafted for them in sales guides. They often have never lead a team of engineers, configured a system or presented to an executive team. Their value to the providers is a high activity of outreach (calls/emails) and in making the introduction. After that, the provider takes the wheel and leads the process. They are usually not qualified to properly vet the solution against a company’s current environment, which may lead to problems wheb trying to implement. Their value after the initial introduction is greatly reduced and they often select the provider who pays the best or that they know.
Advisor Type 2 – The Seasoned Leader
This type of advisor is the one most desired. They not only know how to connect you to available providers but also bring years of experience, technical knowledge and often times executive leadership to the table. They don’t get paid any more but often times add a per hour charge to their services (may be refunded upon a signed deal). The benefit with this advisor is a much greater depth of understanding of technology. They often have overseen many deployments and will help guide installations to success as an added free service. They often bring coaching and guidance to IT leaders or build presentations for you that will build creditability to your resume and often help get you promoted internally. What is most important to this type of advisor, is the relationship and the success of the deployment overall.
Next, it important to understand how your Trusted Advisor is compensated.
Everyone needs to feed their family and a Trusted advisor is no different. If things are set up properly, there’s very little cost to you for their services. The solution provider that is selected as the best fit for the organization, will compensate the advisor for their time.
Vendor Neutrality: Ensure that the advisor doesn’t have conflicts of interest, such as affiliations with specific vendors. You want unbiased advice.
Industry Experience: While not always a must, it can be beneficial if the trusted advisor has experience in your specific industry. They’ll be familiar with common challenges and best practices.
Communication Skills: The advisor should be able to communicate complex ideas clearly and be willing to listen to your concerns and needs. A good advisor is both a talker and a listener.
Flexibility: The world of technology is rapidly evolving. Ensure your advisor is adaptable and stays updated with the latest trends and technologies.
Cultural Fit: The advisor will work closely with various members of your team. It’s essential that they fit well with your company culture and values.
Long-term Vision: Ensure that your advisor isn’t just looking for quick fixes but is considering the long-term health and strategy of your organization.
Transparent Pricing: Understand how the advisor charges for their services, be it a fixed fee, hourly rate, or retainer. Ensure there are no hidden costs and that you get value for your money.
Credentials and Continuous Learning: Check if the advisor has relevant certifications or credentials in the technology domain. Additionally, see if they invest in continuous learning to stay updated on current trends.
Confidentiality and Trust: Given that they might have access to sensitive information about your business, ensure that the advisor is trustworthy and willing to sign confidentiality agreements.
Personal Chemistry: Finally, trust your instincts. If you feel uneasy or uncertain after meeting with a potential advisor, it might be a sign that the relationship isn’t the right fit.
In conclusion, picking the right trusted advisor requires a combination of research, careful consideration, and listening to both your head and your gut. The effort invested in making the right choice will likely pay off in the long run as you reap the benefits of informed and strategic technological decisions.