Wednesday, December 21, 2011

CRM Consultants need a deep and broad skill set

I am SO TIRED of getting pinged by headhunters with NO IDEA of what it takes to be a good CRM consultant trying to put people on projects for junior rates. This morning I got pinged by someone looking for a SENIOR lead for a CRM v4->2011 upgrade project, and they wanted to pay $50/hr! I made that on my first job right out of school!

To be a successful CRM consultant a person must have skills in:
Windows Server
Active Directory
SQL Server
Exchange (and other mail servers)
Web and Network protocols
Firewalls and Security
Microsoft .NET and software development
Client side products such as IE, Office, etc.

As well as soft skills in business analysis and design, application architecture, project management, communication, project documentation, etc.

Further, with the current trend of the “consumerization of IT”, you also need to know a lot about the competing platforms such as Apple, Linux, etc., and of course the entire range of mobile devices that people might want to connect to their IT network and CRM.

If you a CRM consultant and have expertise and actual project experience in all these subject areas, as I do, then PLEASE DO NOT work for $50/hr! If you do you might think you’re being competitive by cutting your rate, but really all you’re doing is diluting the rates for all of us and marginalizing your skills and experience. If you cannot sell your services for a decent rate, then please go find a job in another industry. I have worked far too long and hard on my skills and experiences to not be fairly compensated. In thinking of a fair rate for yourself, note that a Microsoft Partner will likely charge between $150-$200/hr for a senior CRM consultant.
Oh and by-the-way, passing certification exams DOES NOT make you a CRM consultant. The exams are sets of questions that can be easily studied for, and in no way prepare a consultant for complex real-world project implementations. The only way to prepare for projects is to actually work on several projects and face the myriad variables that will be inevitable in different businesses and IT environments.

If you’re a customer implementing CRM or considering an implementation, or a head hunter looking to staff a CRM project, PLEASE take the time to educate yourself as to the skill set a good CRM consultant needs to have (send me a note and I’ll be happy to help you). Ask meaningful interview questions, a question like “When working with plugins how does parent pipeline mode differ from child pipeline mode” is meaningless and can be looked up in the SDK in a second. A better question is to ask “Tell me about a challenge you faced on one of your projects where you were forced to use plugins, and how did you implement the plugins to successfully meet the project deliverable?”

The key here, fellow CRM consultants, is not cutting your rates, but providing real VALUE for the rates you do charge. I have seen many projects fail when a customer brings in the cheapest rate they can find, and they end up spending far more money in the long run to bring in a truly experience consultant to fix the project.

If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur!! - Red Adair