After a year of working at Capgemini, I was excited to finally be on a project where we would be implementing a system. But the first time working with clients and being expected not just to ask questions, but to have answers (or at least, Google hard enough to find acceptable answers) was extremely daunting, and made me believe I wasn't fit to succeed. In order to gain the experience and confidence I needed in a short amount of time, I knew that I had to take more initiative to gain a deeper understanding of the project and its nuances.
Below are a few key ways to expand your knowledge and experience beyond your level and job description.
- Invite yourself to meetings- After you gain a handle on your project objectives, start looking for more opportunities to expose yourself to additional client sessions, even if they aren't in your role's scope. The more you learn about what other teams on the project are doing, the more information you’ll have to either complement your current project strategy, or use for future projects when you grow into a more functional role.
- Understand what your team is doing- Too often in a system implementation (or technology consulting in general) do we silo ourselves from our teammates into technical vs. functional, developer vs. analyst, or so on. Truthfully, everyone on the team should be supporting each other with their day-to-day roles. In order for this to work, however, it’s important that every team member have a solid understanding of each others’ roles. It’s typical to have daily status calls with your team to give updates to your manager, but as a rising staff consultant, it can be really helpful to schedule ad-hoc meetings with team members if something that they’re working on sounds interesting to you. Regardless of where you fall on the technical spectrum, knowing the system platform, basics of its configuration, and the programming languages being used for any custom development can enhance your understanding of how the system intertwines with the business processes of the client.
- Become a Subject Matter Expert (SME)- After all the requirements have been gathered, you as a team member are bound to find some gaps between client needs and cumulative team knowledge. Wherever there is a gap, or a need for someone to become more well-read on a certain subject, take this opportunity to volunteer to become that person. Perhaps no one on the team is that familiar with the mobile platform of the system application, or the behavior of a legacy system. This was simple to do as a testing lead on this project because I was able to gain a lot of exposure to Capgemini’s standard defect management tool. Eventually I was looked to as the client-facing SME for using this tool to execute test plans and manage incoming defects for the entire 12-week implementation.
Once I was able to not only perform the work that came with my role, but gain more exposure to client-consultant meetings, learn more about what my team was doing, and become a SME in a tool, I was able to gain the confidence I needed to ask the right questions and propose solutions that would ultimately help the end-user of the system.