Photo Credit: @samuelzeller
Located between developers and the client, a Functional Consultant’s role is to listen to the client, understanding difficulties with their existing solution, while hearing their motivations for migrating to a new one.
This sounds similar to a Business Analyst, right? This is where a Functional Consultant differs.
“Bridging the gap between client and developer”
A Functional Consultant has strong product knowledge, often in a specialist area, and understands the product on a technical level, its limitations, and how to take advantage of out of the box functionality. It’s this technical knowledge that sets a Functional Consultant apart, allowing them to best advise clients on the right solution to meet their needs.
The split between Functional and Technical focus for a Functional Consultant
Being able to translate business requirements into technical tasks is another differentiator — a Functional Consultant can write detailed user stories that both the client and developers can understand. This allows developers to task out stories, that would have previously required a back-and-forth with the client.
“The consultative, relationship building approach”
The combination of analytical aptitude and detailed product knowledge, means Functional Consultants can spot up-sell/cross-sell opportunities. When advising on the best approach for an already defined business requirement, there are occasions where the client will mention legacy systems, perhaps even a third-party system, that they are using to manage a business process.
It’s situations like these where a Functional Consultant has the opportunity to provide a consultative experience for the client, and advise on how they can streamline their business processes, by using the same product/product family as the current project.
Contoso Ltd. is in the market for a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. They have done their homework and landed on Microsoft’s offering — Dynamics 365 (Customer Engagement).
While taking requirements for the new CRM system, the Functional Consultant hears of an integration that is required as part of the project. It is to marry up a legacy reporting tool, with the new Dynamics 365 CRM system.
Here is a perfect example of where a Functional Consultant’s wider product knowledge will benefit the clients experience, as a conversation can begin around alternative reporting tools that integrate with Dynamics 365, such as PowerBI, a product in the same Microsoft family.
The job of a Functional Consultant is to make life easier for both the client and developers, by acting as the translation layer between the two.
This enhancement to communication gives improvements to development velocity, as well as improving company image, by having product specialists in the room, for quick answers to technical questions, and helpful conversations around solving business problems.